Summer Recreation Program FAQs

The information below is compiled from some of the most commonly asked questions about our Summer Recreation Program. 

Schedule

Camp will be offered for three (3) weeks: July 15 - August 7, Monday - Friday, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM at two locations and a morning session or an afternoon session at other locations. Also, we will have a Teens Only location.

Campers must be enrolled for the full three (3) weeks. Enrollment for less than three (3) weeks is not available. You may choose your camper’s actual attendance schedule but are responsible for fees for the full three (3) weeks.

Why are we only offering a 3-week option?

As you can see from this lengthy document, there are a lot of details that go into programming this summer. It is too much to orient new waves of participants and families throughout the summer.

By limiting the number of individuals over the summer, we significantly reduce our circles of exposure.

We are prioritizing filling a childcare need over an enrichment need (but you do not need to be working/in need of childcare to be eligible to enroll - we understand that families have many reasons they may be looking for youth programs this summer).

Who is eligible to enroll?

Children ages 5 - 17 may be enrolled in camp. Children have completed kindergarten / have not graduated H.S. to be eligible.

You do NOT need to be an essential worker to enroll your child in camp. Please see the section in this document on limitations on who we feel we can best serve this summer.

Cost

Summer Program will be Free.

What will campers be able to do?

Summer 2020 will be amazing and magical!

For returning participants who know and love Summer Recreation, many favorite activities and experiences will be the same, and some things will look very different.

All participants will be able to build a fort, play kickball, enjoy making a piece of art, play outdoors in the sun, play silly games, interact with your friends and still have adventures this summer. Unlike other years, these activities will happen within a schedule that ensures that shared areas are either sanitized or sufficiently vacant between groups that viral transmission from surfaces is not a concern.

We will not have “choice time” (our morning free play period) because we cannot allow groups of participants to mix. But, time for unstructured free play in designated areas within the groups of 5 children will still be an important part of each day.

Instead of gathering for an all program morning meeting, individual groups of 5 will start their days with a morning circle to greet each other and get ready for a great day of programming.

We are not offering specialty camps like “Basketball”, “Soccer” or “Baseball/Softball”.  All participants will enjoy a wide range of activities over our 3 weeks together.

Who are the staff?

One of the strengths of Out-of-School Time Programs is our amazing staff team! Each group of 5 participants will be led by 1 adult staff who has significant experience. While we love welcoming new staff each summer, this summer’s team is 100% experienced staff who know programming very well.

Recreation Services Supervisors will be on duty to provide administrative and logistical support to all groups. When that is not possible, we will have qualified staff available to assist as needed.

How will participants be grouped?

We plan to serve 60 participants throughout all program sites. Each group will consist of 5 participants and 1 program staff throughout the program. There will be no mixing between groups at all, such that children and staff are only exposed to those in their immediate group. Each group of 5 participants will NOT have shared arrival, dismissal, lunch, or play time with other groups.

Siblings must be in the same group, regardless of their age difference. Most or all our groups will be mixed ages, 5 – 12, or for the teens, 13-17. Out of School Time Programs routinely runs programs with mixed age groups, and we are looking forward to sharing this format with more children!

We will do our best with friend requests but given the group size limits and requirements to keep siblings together, we may not be able to honor all requests.

What health measures is Summer Programs taking to protect participants and staff?

The State of NM, NM Department of Health, Center for Disease Control (CDC) and City of Las Cruces have provided guidance and direction for programs to follow.

Each group will have their own indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, as well as their own arrival/dismissal spot. There will be no interaction between groups of 5. Even on rainy or thunderstorm days, each group will have their own classroom and sets of art supplies, games, etc., to maintain separation between groups. Shared outdoor spaces will be enjoyed on a scheduled rotation such that significant time passes between groups of users, and equipment that can be disinfected will be.

We will be following all recommended cleaning procedures, including cleaning of bathrooms, door handles, and any high touch surfaces throughout the day.

All staff will wear a mask when indoors and when within 6 feet of campers or staff when outdoors. Current health guidance allows for masks to be removed when outside and at least 6 feet from others, and for the safety of our staff working in the summer heat, we will be encouraging staff to take mask breaks outside, when they are at a safe distance from others.

Participants and staff will wash hands with soap and water frequently, and hand sanitizer will also be available in all activity areas.

We will have contact less drop off and pick up for participants. Parents will not be allowed to exit their car at drop off or pick up.

Participants and staff will be screened upon arrival and no one will be admitted with a temperature of 100.4F degrees or if they display symptoms of COVID-19.

The City of Las Cruces will recommend routine COVID-19 screening for staff who appear healthy. Staff who feel sick or who have a temperature will stay home (and will contact their doctor for guidance on testing), and we have plans for back-up staff.

Is it safe for children to attend camp?

Strict adherence to all guidelines for the operation of programs does not guarantee a risk-free camp environment. All participants and staff are at-risk for being exposed to coronavirus and contracting COVID-19. Our operations are intended to minimize and contain that risk as much as possible.

We know that some children are being harmed by social isolation at home, and that some families are being harmed by lack of access to childcare. In deciding to offer our camps, we are weighing the risk of coronavirus against the many other ways our community is at-risk of harm right now.

Do campers need to wear masks or distance from each other?

Each group of 5 participants and the staff member will operate like a family unit. Per guidelines, children are NOT expected to keep physical distance from one another within their group of 5. Of course, we will enforce hand washing and other good hygiene measures, but we will not prohibit children from interacting within their group. Unnecessary, excessive contact (like games that involve hugging or wrestling or whispering into ears) will be redirected to other ways of playing, but participants should experience social interaction within their group as mostly normal.

Staff and participants will wear a mask when within 6 feet of others. We ask that you send your child with a mask, we will emphasize and ensure the proper use and safe wearing of the mask.

What happens on rainy days?

We will operate as usual in the rain, enjoying primarily indoor activities!

If there is a strong chance of inclement weather, we will text parents/guardians by 7:45 AM to let you know that we recommend keeping your child home if possible.

During these storms, participants will be indoors in their assigned areas (remaining in their group of 5 part. and 1 staff). However, because the risk of COVID-19 transmission is higher when indoors, we will recommend that participants who can stay home on those days, do so.

Staff will always wear masks when indoors. Participants should be sent with a mask and asked to wear (recommended, for inclement weather days). We will require participants to wear masks when indoors on inclement weather days and strictly enforce their proper wearing and use.

What happens if there is a COVID positive case?

If a child presents with a fever, cough, or other COVID-19 symptoms, we will contact the Department of Health and follow their guidance.

There will be a lower threshold for sending a participant home for relatively mild symptoms like persistent coughing or sneezing. While these may be allergy induced, coughing and sneezing can be infectious and even mild illness or allergies may result in the need for a doctor’s note to return to the program.

If a child, staff person, or household member of a program participant or staff person has a COVID-19 positive test, we will notify the Department of Health and follow their guidance for cleaning, closure of individual groups, and notification of families.

Families and staff are requested to notify the Summer Program staff immediately of any COVID-19 positive case in their household while program is open.

What we ask of you as parents

We are in this together! We are on your team, trying to give kids a healthy, normal-ish summer. We need all enrolled program families to be on board with the following:

The Summer Program will not monitor, judge, or act on each family’s level of social distancing from others outside of the program. However, we ask that as much as possible, if you choose to enroll in the program that you choose to make our program the primary exposure your family has to others (not including essential workers in their workplace). Families who plan to have regular playdates and other non-essential direct contact with others outside of our program are more likely to put a whole group at risk of exposure and possible closure. For us to stay open, we need families to limit your exposures as much as you can.

We will all have new routines to learn. We will need parents to read the information we send and comply with all guidelines and directions. We cannot do this without all of us on board to participate in communication.

If you got this far in the FAQ, WE can do this!

We have some small requests for supplies you will need to provide: a water bottle for your child with a covered mouthpiece, a face covering, no open-toe shoes, a hat, and a SMILE.

We are limited in who we can serve this summer

Out-of-School Time Programs believe including all children and families is core to our mission and central to the identity of who we want to be in our community. Our reality this summer is that we cannot fully achieve all parts of this mission. We strongly considered not running any programs at all because we cannot offer them in a way that is accessible to all children. We have chosen to offer Summer Recreation for the limited number of children that we can serve, believing that doing what we can for some is better than choosing to close and do nothing. Please know this was the very hardest part of our decision to open. This is what we can do now. We will continue problem solving and working to do more for families and future programs.

Children with medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and compromised immune systems are recommended by the CDC to not attend day camps. Children who live with vulnerable household members are also recommended to not attend day camps. Please speak with your doctor about our program if your child or any household member has a chronic medical condition, or if you have a household member over 65 years old. We will not restrict children from registering for the program if they have a chronic medical condition or live with an at-risk household member.

Children (with or without diagnosed special needs) who are very sensitive to change, prone to inflexible thinking, or who routinely need individual support for social interactions, safe choices, and/or activity participation may not be best served in the program this summer. Of course, this will look different for each child, and some participants may enjoy and benefit from the changes to programming. Things to consider as you think about what does and does not work for your child:

Our routines will look very different from what your child may remember or be expecting.

We have no flexibility with activity choices and schedules.

Participants will still enjoy almost all the usual recreational activities, but their choices between preferred activities and play areas throughout each day will be substantially limited.

Participants will need to stay with their group, and group activities and use of specific spaces are scheduled and not flexible due to the need for disinfection of spaces between groups, per CDC regulations.

Adults will be wearing masks, and we know that may make understanding and interpreting communication and social cues very difficult.

How to apply, and how we are determining acceptance                                                

To apply: Complete the online registration process or pick up a drive-thru application and return by the deadline date. Applications for children in the same household will be kept together in the lottery.

We will be offering enrollment to applicants by lottery:

On July 7, we will conduct a lottery and will notify the families of the children selected in the lottery that they can enroll.

Completion of the Family Orientation will need to be by the Parent/Guardian/Child for completion of enrollment. More information will come to those that have been selected.

Why are we doing enrollment by lottery?

We may have a high demand for available spots and need to provide every family a fair opportunity to get in.

We know that many families have complicated work and distance learning schedules right now, and do not feel that offering registration on a first-come basis gives equitable opportunity to register to all families.