Summer camps on MDI filling fast

MOUNT DESERT–It didn’t take long during an early registration period to fill the limited amount of openings for the 2021 summer season at Camp Beech Cliff.

Anyone at this point looking to sign a child up for one of the 10 sessions on the summer schedule will be added to a waiting list.

After closing for the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns, the camp will be limited to 80 fewer campers for each weekly session than they were able to host pre-pandemic.

In order to make sure campers can maintain the recommended three feet of distance and be able to share a covered building in the case of inclement weather, attendance at Camp Beech Cliff will be limited to 190 campers instead of the usual 270 per week, according to Executive Director Debra Deal.

Other restrictions for this summer season at Camp Beech Cliff, which follows CDC guidelines, include small groups of kids, no free choice activities, mandatory masks on campus and off-campus trips are prohibited.

Most of the other summer camp options on Mount Desert Island are also forging ahead for the summer season with restrictions in place. Families and campers are encouraged to continue with self-screening practices that have been in place throughout the school year in response to the pandemic. These include not participating if a child is showing symptoms associated with COVID-19, washing hands frequently, coughing into one’s elbow and mask wearing.

The Neighborhood House in Northeast Harbor has decided to offer limited programming with shorter day sessions that will take place either in their great hall or outside. As with last summer, use of Mount Desert Elementary School, where summer camp is normally held, is prohibited.

“Everything’s going to be stand-alone programming,” said Matt Hart, community relations director for The Neighborhood House. These programs will be 60-minute sessions and registration is expected to begin in May.

Harbor House Community Service Center’s Camp Max was one of the few options for working families during the summer of 2020. It will continue to be an option this summer for the first 26 children who are entering second through sixth grade and sign up for each week. Harbor House also provides a summer camp for children who are three to those who have completed kindergarten. Registration opened at the beginning of March but there are still spots available.

In Bar Harbor the YMCA was the only other summer camp option for children in 2020 and their Camp Cadillac is happening again this year for children entering kindergarten through sixth grade. Groups, divided by age, will be limited to between 10 and 12 campers.

“We have spots open but we are filling up quickly,” said Taylor Walls, who is set to replace Jared Erskine as the childcare/youth development director after April 2. “Campers are expected to sign up for the summer based on what weeks they want for the summer, 10 weeks total. Each week is a different theme. In our specialty camps we have 10 kids per week. Some of those are completely full with a wait list.”

Summer Festival of the Arts, which takes place July 12 – 30, is providing both virtual and in-person components this season. Registration begins on May 1, with a limit of eight children for each of the in-person age groups. There are three age groups divided by those entering first and second grade, children entering third and fourth grade and students entering fifth through eighth grade. Virtual classes will not have a capacity limit. A location for the in-person camp sessions will be announced at a later date.

Registration for College of the Atlantic’s Summer Field Studies for Children is now open, but many of the sessions are already full. There are eight, week-long sessions throughout the summer and they vary with four or five days of participation. Capacity for each session is limited this year because of the pandemic to between six and 10 kids, depending on the age and field study focus. Groups are divided by grade level with one for those entering first and second grade, third and fourth grade, fifth and sixth grade and seventh through ninth grade.

“I am encouraging parents to still register to be put on the waitlist,” said Renee Duncan, director of the summer field studies program. “We do move through the waitlist as parents are figuring things out with their schedules.”

Most of the camps provide a discount for children whose families reside in Hancock, and sometimes Washington, County year round and some provide further financial assistance for campers who qualify.

To learn more about, see updates or to register for a spot at these summer camps, visit their websites.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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