JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– With children at home for the rest of the school year, the prospect of summer camp has never seemed more attractive — for everyone in the family. Unfortunately, amid ongoing coronavirus concerns, one popular Colorado camp has already made the decision to close for the summer. Others may follow suit.
“Towards the end of March, it just started to become obvious that things were going to change. It didn’t make sense to move forward with the summer as we typically know it,” said Tommy Feldman, the owner of Camp Granite Lake in Coal Creek Canyon.
Feldman started the camp 15 years ago. The closure is a first but he says he risked losing the camp for good if he had to shut down in the middle of the summer. No matter how small the chances, it’s a risk he didn’t want to take.
“We just decided that we could be ready for what’s next better, if we just if we stopped planning to do what we’re going to do and start planning for something else,” Feldman said.
Feldman says he had to lay off his entire summer staff and while some of the area around the camp will be open for hiking to families already enrolled for the summer, he’s finding ways to connect with the kids online.
“We have some virtual things planned for the summer and we’re just getting ready for when we can all be back together again,” he said.
The business of summer camp, he says, isn’t easy. He has spoken with other camp directors who are still struggling with the decision to open for the summer.
“Camps have this unique thing- they just run for one season so to lose the season, is to lose the year.”
Feldman says over the last 15 years they have been able to build a community of returning campers and he says because of that, Camp Granite Lake will be able to weather the storm.
“We are seeking out a lot of good will from the families who have already enrolled for the summer who have paid some of their money and it’s a sacrifice across the board.”
While there is no real precedent for how to move forward, Feldman says he’s confident for the 500-plus children Camp Granite Lake sees every summer, this is temporary.
“At Camp Granite Lake, we’re going to put our arms around each other around the campfire,” he continued, “We’re, you know, looking at ourselves in this larger picture. We don’t want to make things worse and we really want to be there for kids and families.”