Possible rollbacks could delay western Washington summer camps again

As the coronavirus pandemic marches on, there is a growing concern among youth summer camps that the virus could keep them closed for a second year in a row.

As so many counties are preparing for a potential rollback in phases, some worry camps will not survive.

"This pandemic took me out a lot," said 13-year-old Maxwell Clauson. "Being able to come out here and learn new people... it was incredible."

The teenager said his life was changed by last year’s camp because he got a chance to see the world from below the shoreline at Edmonds Underwater Park.

"It’s like a whole new world opens up," he said.

"The ocean, it helped save us," said diver and Clauson’s camp instructor Annie Crawley.

Students and staff socially distanced and wore masks, but being underwater meant coronavirus stayed out of their way.

"We need kids out of the houses and off of their games and in nature," said Crawley.

A summer SCUBA camp has advantages over other summer camps that take place on dry land.

"We believe we can operate safely in any phase with protocols in place," said Carrie Lawson with Camp Sealth.

RELATED: CDC: Children’s summer camps should continue social distancing, mask-wearing to prevent COVID-19 spread

The camp on Vashon Island missed celebrating its 100-year anniversary due to the pandemic. Now, officials there worry another rollback could mean another chance to celebrate will be missed.

"Two years in the row of closures honestly would close a lot of camps and negatively impact camps across the state," said Lawson.

Camp Sealth says plans have been developed to maintain social distance and ensure students are tested before arrival. Administrators hope the state allows the camp to operate this season no matter which phase of opening.

"I hope to do this the rest of my life," said Clauson.

Clauson has signed for SCUBA camp again this year. His instructor believes there are lessons at the bottom of the sea that can instill a sense of leadership and respect for the environment. Lessons vital for our youth regardless of how a virus dictates what happens on land.                                                            

"I’m still running SCUBA camps," said Crawley, insisting 2021’s camp will continue.

The summer camp organizations that spoke with Q13 News said they had established plans to ensure staffers will be vaccinated. In addition, many added it would be too soon to determine how vaccine availability for children under the age of 16 would affect 2021’s operations.

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