Summer camps in the St. Louis area that have announced they will hold in-person summer sessions are enacting strict safety protocols to help ensure the health of their campers. In addition to limiting enrollment, camps are cancelling field trips, enacting strict cleaning protocols, taking daily temperature and symptom checks, and installing measures that allow for social distancing.
Last week, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said he expects many summer camps to open in June. Detailed safety guidelines for summer camps, developed using CDC protocols and with the assistance of the Gateway Region YMCA, were announced on May 22 and are available at stlcorona.com.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson announced that summer camps in the city will be allowed to open provided they follow safety protocols, including designing activities to allow for social distancing, holding no field trips, no overnight or residential camps, no aquatic activities, proper use of face coverings when social distancing is not possible, providing at least three opportunities for hand washing throughout the day, staff use of face coverings, detailed cleaning and santizing procedures, and limited enrollment. See the entire list of safety guidlines at stlouis-mo.gov.
While some organizations and schools, such at the Saint Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, Whitfield School, The College School, Washington University Pre-College Programs and others, have opted to cancel in-person summer camps this year, others are busy formulating plans for how they will adhere to required safety protocols. Others have decided to offer online, or virtual, camps. Both online and in-person camps can be found in our searchable 2020 Summer Camp Guide.
Those offering in-person camps include The Gateway Region YMCA, The Magic House, Miss Kelly's Gym, COCA, YMCA Camp Lakewood, Little Medical School, Sweetology, Fox Performing Arts Charitable Organization, Yucandu Art Studio, Artscope and many others.
Ron Heinz, owner of Code Ninjas of O'Fallon, Mo., says summer camps will begin as planned on June 1 and follow strict social distancing and safety guidelines. "We have reduced our capacity below half to maintain social distancing in our center. We will be taking the temperature of each camper with a non-contact thermometer prior to entering, and record each temperature each morning. We will be doing the same for instructors and staff," Heinz said, adding that all staff will wear masks, and campers will be requested to do the same. Campers and staff will be required to use hand sanitizer stations frequently, and strict cleaning protocols will be followed. "We are doing everything we can to make our camp the safest camp that we can. While having many safety practices in place we are also doing everything we can to ensure we provide a fun learning atmosphere as well," he said.
Parents are registering their children for camp, Heinz added, and some weeks are already full or close to filling up.
Artscope, which holds summer camps in Tower Grove Park, has also enacted strict guidelines for their in-person camps. Emily Kohring, Artscope's Executive Director, said safety precautions include screenings for symptoms and daily temperature checks, no non-essential staff allowed on the camp grounds when childen are present, campers will be kept in three separate groups of no more than ten and stay with the same instructor throughout the week, art supplies will not be shared among groups, field trips have been cancelled, and campers will not be allowed to use the playground or fountains. Campers will also stay outside all day, using the indoor facility only for hand washing, bathrooms breaks or air conditioning breaks when needed.
"We are taking our responsibility very seriously," Kohring said. "We're strictly following the guidelines laid out by the CDC and the City of St. Louis for summer camps. We have a large outdoor space outside our cottage with lots of shade where we can properly social distance and offer a beautiful natural setting where kids can feel relaxed and have some fun." Kohring added that camps will likely open July 6.
For details on in-person summer camps at The Magic House see our recent feature.
Family Attractions Plan Reopenings
Some family attractions, such as the Saint Louis Zoo and the Saint Louis Science Center, have announced reopening dates. The Saint Louis Zoo will open June 13, and staff and visitors over age 9 will be required to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines. Timed reservations will also be required to enter. Additional protocols may also be put in place.
The Saint Louis Science Center has announced it will open to the public on June 20. In a news release on May 27, the Science Center outlined a few of the safety measures and operating guidelines they will follow once they open. They include:
Learn more about the Science Center's reopening plan at slsc.org
The Magic House, its satelite location MADE for Kids, Sandcastle Beach and summer camps will all open in June. See our full story on requirements for reservations and extensive safety protocols here.
The Missouri History Museum and Soldiers Memorial Museum announced they will open to the public June 20 with enhanced safety measures, including operating with 10 percent visitor capacity, requiring advanced tickets, and reduced hours (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) The History Clubhouse at the Missouri History Museum will remain closed. Protective face coverings will be required for all visitors over the age of 9.
Play Street Museum in St. Charles has begun the process of reopening by offering private playtimes for one household at a time. Families can reserve 75 minutes of private playtime in the museum for $99. Learn more about these limited opportunities and make reservations at psmstlouis.com.
The St. Louis County Library will begin offering curbside service at all branches beginning June 3. This contact-free service allows library card holders to reserve and pick up books, movies and more. Curbside service hours are Monday through Thursday from 1 to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
The library's Summer Reading Clubs for all ages kick off June 1 and are taking place online only.
Six Flags has not yet announced a specific opening date, but has made public some safety measures they plan to enact when they do open. These include requiring timed reservations, screening attendees for temperatures when they enter the park using contactless thermal imaging, touchless bag checks, attendance caps, and requiring all guests over the age of 2 and all staff to wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth during the time they are in the park. These and other guidelines were announced by Six Flags Communications Manager Sharon Parker in a video posted on YouTube.
The St. Louis Aquarium announced it will reopen June 8 with new physical distancing protocols, reduced capacity and timed ticketing requirements. Advance reservations will be required, all staff will wear masks, and guests over the age of 9 will be required to wear a mask as well. Visitors will be required to follow a one-way flow through the aquarium. Find more details at stlouisaquarium.com.
The St. Louis Wheel will also reopen to the public on June 8. In addition to social distancing markers, gondola loading and unloading cycles will be space to allow for physical distancing between guest, and gondolas will be sanitized between groups. Employees will be screened daily for COVID-19 symptoms and will be required to wear masks. Guest are being requested to wear masks and will be required to take a survey to confirm their health. Union Station's outdoor attractions, such as the mini-golf course, will be open but the Wheel Park playground will remain closed. For more details, go to thestlouiswheel.com
For details about in-person and online summer camps, see our searchable 2020 Summer Camp Guide.
The Nine Network is producing two hours of literacy and math instruction for prekindergarten through fourth grade weekdays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. The grade-appropriate instruction is taught by local educators at home, and is available on your St. Louis PBS station, channel 9.
Kids can work on existing gym skills, learn new skills or just play around during Open Gym at Miss Kelly's Gym. Space is limited to 10 kids per session. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
Purina Farms is bringing the best of the farm to your home every week! You can virtually explore Purina Farms through videos featuring the animals, dog trainers and others who work there, as well as the pets who work and play at Purina Farms every day. Each day of the week features videos on a variety of topics including animal connections, training tips and responsible pet care advice for kids.
The Magic House is bringing innovative, hands-on learning to you at home with its #MagicAtHome series of interactive, instructional online presentations. The Magic At Home series of activities includes lots of fun projects that you can make at home with common materials. The easy-to-follow directions mean your kids can make paper sculpture, do shaving cream marble painting, create make-your-own flowers, go "fishin," make TP roll animals, make salad spin art and more.
The Science Louis Science Center is continuing to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning through its online Science @ Home series! Visit the Science Center's web site or social media channels for DIY science experiments that can be done at home, Amazing Science Demonstrations from the Science Center's Energy Stage team, connections to local scientists, astronomy updates from the McDonnell Planetarium, live chats and more. Content is designed for all ages.