WAYNE, NJ – With so many aspects of our daily lives going ‘virtual’ because of fears of COVID-19, the news that something has gone ‘actual’ comes with hope,nostalgia for the old days before the pandemic, and that sense of worry that seems to pervade the air around us.

The Wayne Boys and Girls Club began actual summer camp this week, inviting children of all ages to their facility on Garside Avenue in Wayne. As with all aspects of our lives, there are new rules to follow in the new normal.  All aimed at keeping everyone safe.

Strict drop off, safety, and cleaning protocols are enforced throughout the day and they use Ultraviolet Light Cleaning Technology after hours several times a week. The Boys and Girls Club invites you to learn more about their enrollment and safety procedures on their website.

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B&GC Director of Resource Development Devon Maloney talked about some of the difficulties the club has had to face during the pandemic and why the summer camp is so important.

“As a non-profit, we take any money earned in enrollment in our programs and put it back into scholarships for families with hardships who would not be able to access our services.” she said. “Because of COVID-19, we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place.  There are so many more families, applying for scholarships and on the other end of things, for us, we’ve taken a tremendous financial hit by not having enrollment dollars.”

“But our programming is more important than ever because this is all about the Mental health of the kids,” Maloney said. “Some of our hardship scholarships are for families who may have had a death in the family, or an unexpected diagnosis, or a house fire; now add COVID-19 to the list.  The stress that these families have been living under and the effect of the kids living in these households with those stresses has been immeasurable. We have to step in and get them back into a safe, comfortable, social environment as soon as possible.”

The B&GC opened their doors as soon as they could, according to Maloney. “While it's been challenging, we have parent-after-parent coming to us saying: ‘My kid is smiling again. He's excited to wake up and go to camp; he's not sitting on the couch in front of the screen as much; he's talking about school again.’ We’re getting so much wonderful feedback from our parents because these kids have been just hammered mentally.”

The programming is different than what would normally be offered, but the state of New Jersey has rules that the B&GC must follow. In response, they have used a lot of creativity to keep their camps fun.

They have developed indoor/outdoor activities, crafts, and STEM activities, social recreation, tech time, sports, and more all while adhering to the new social distancing and health guidelines. 

Field trips are on hold for now, but they are replacing these with new and creative activities such as interactive virtual field trips, fun outdoor games and contests, make your own camp shirt projects, creating their own non-contact group greeting, dance parties, relays, body language games, large board games, and more! 

With a big smile, Maloney said: “We are open and very excited to be back here and to see these kids so excited to get out of their houses and back to playing and having fun.

Enrollment is still open. Visit the B&GC website for more information.