Parents left scrambling for summer alternatives with many camps closed

Palm Beach County school district cancels summer camps; Boys & Girls Club hopes to reopen
Posted at 9:35 AM, May 18, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — For so many parents, summer camp is a source of childcare, but families are now looking for other options because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I miss it. They miss it, too," said Ruthie Smith, who looks after her three grandchildren and two stepchildren.

Smith has been in charge of the virtual learning, the laundry and all the meals for all five children while in self-quarantine. She, like many, are hoping summer camps can open safely.

"It's a whole difference for kids to get out and experience the things kids need to experience with their peers around and other people," Smith said.

The School District of Palm Beach County has canceled all district summer camps because of the pandemic, and families who already paid will automatically receive refunds. The district is working with schools and after-school program directors to issue refunds over the next few weeks.

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"One of our major concerns is the fact that parents are going to have to go back to work as businesses open up and kids need a safe place to go," said Jaene Miranda, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Palm Beach County.

The Boys & Girls Club is hoping to reopen and provide parents an alternative. It usually serves 2,000 kids daily during the summer, but with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and social distancing, that number will drop to about 570.

"With the guidelines being provided to us, it's a 9:1 ratio for staff to kid," Miranda said. "We were typically operating a 1:20 ratio."

The school district is still working out details as well and will notify parents. The Boys & Girls Club is hoping to reopen in mid-June, but it is still waiting on a decision from its board.

WPTV has also learned the Children's Services Council is working with the county's Youth Services Department and the Early Learning Coalition to brainstorm a plan for summer camp.

"To have this place or any other Boys & Girls Club to not reopen, I don't know what they would do," Smith said.