MILLBURN, NJ — The coronavirus pandemic that has affected everybody's lives in some form has also posed a particularly vexing set of challenges for the operators of summer day camps.
When summer camps are permitted to open on July 6, in accordance with Governor Phil Murphy's directives during Stage 2 of the state's reopening process, camp owners like Greg Bartiromo, who runs the Fundamentals Sports and Day Camps in Short Hills, will be taking on the new guidelines with special care.
"It's going to be very different," Bartiromo said. "Over the years, we have had a six-hour camp day. We are probably not going to have classroom time the way we normally would. We will have a three-hour session, but lunch and indoor time are going to be challenges. We have a rain plan, but we are going to try to keep the kids outside as much as we can. We'll stress exercise and interaction with social distancing."
A sports-based camp that emphasizes character-building, Fundamentals Sports and Day Camps have been operating for 20 years. No year, however, has been anything like this one.
Bartiromo said. "The core values of what we do will still be there. We have planned for many of these challenges, and we know camp will be a quality experience for all the campers. Our goal is much more than just getting the kids better at sports skills. We stress getting them to appreciate teamwork, compassion, understanding and all of what sports should be about."
Bartiromo has been an elementary school physical education teacher. He has an M.A. from Columbia University in Movement Science and Education, and he stresses how kids move and how to teach them better ways to move around. Bartiromo formerly coached varsity ice hockey at Livingston High School, and he was the phys ed teacher at Far Brook School in Short Hills for many years.
After the initial impact of this summer's new camp guidelines sank in, Bartiromo went about figuring out how he and his staff could effectively incorporate them for this year.
"We found out the regulations two weeks ago," he said. "We have since put plans into effect to create the best possible camp for the kids. But we do believe in our core values, and the kids need to be out playing and socializing more than ever. We meet daily as a staff, and we talk about (the challenges) all the time. We know that that now more than ever kids and their families want this--to be able to laugh, run around, play games and teach them stuff that they have missed over the last few months.
"If anybody can do it, we can," Bartiromo said. "We believe in our team and in our ability to put on a great program for kids."