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Without word from the state, summer camps get ready to open, brace for the worst
(Boys and Girls Clubs of the Austin Area)

It's been six weeks since area schools closed and students transitioned to "distance learning" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Now summer camps are wondering if they'll be next.


Summer camps were not included in the first phase of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's plan to reopen the economy.

"I say it's the backbone of reopening the economy because workers have families," said Joan Altabelli, vice president of Extend-A-Care YMCA, which offers school, daycare and summer camp programs across Austin.

Without clear directives, however, many local summer camps are planning for multiple scenarios.

"We have a plan in place if the 10-person gathering ban is still in effect," said Robert Fowler, chief program services officer for the Boys Clubs of the Austin Area. "If, by some miracle, things reopen tomorrow, we are ready to go."

The local nonprofit serves over 8,200 members across Travis and Bastrop counties.

"Ninety-nine percent of our families will return to us for the summer, so we know that parents want [their kids] to go to summer camp," Fowler said.

In case in-person camps are not an option, BGCAA staff are considered virtual programming. "I call it reality camp," Fowler said.

Austin Sunshine Camp, which offers overnight programs to children in foster care or whose families qualify based on their household income, announced April 16 that it would offer its first two sessions of the summer online. Word on the remaining six is expected early next month.

Neuron Garage, a summer camp with 12 locations around Austin, is "cautiously optimistic" and is preparing to host campers starting June 1 while awaiting official guidance.

The organization has updated its protocols as a result of the pandemic, however, and will increase cleaning, implement screenings and limit class sizes to 25 campers. It is also offering full refunds—including deposits—in the case camp cannot proceed.

Like almost every industry, summer camps—and the schools that host them—are financially impacted by the pandemic.

Extend-A-Care YMCA—which is only able to provide child care to essential workers under current state rules—is burning through its rainy day funds.

"It's an absolutely devastating impact to us," Altobelli said. "We have no income coming in."

Laura Colangelo, executive director of the Texas Private School Association, said private schools across the state are eagerly waiting for the governor's word on summer camps

"Frankly they get a lot of revenue from those programs," Colangelo said.

Across Texas, private schools are reporting an average drop in enrollment of about 20% due to the pandemic. Camps could be one way to offset some of those losses, but only if families choose to pay for them.

"A lot of parents do use these camps for childcare, so [virtual programming] is not going to solve that problem," Colangelo said. "That's why we really hope they can meet in person, but if they can't, then I imagine schools are going to try anything they can to stay engaged with the community and to make up some of that revenue. They're just going to have to be really creative about how they do that."

Popular

Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway