Summer camps prepare for students to arrive, address staffing shortages and Covid-19

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As summer campers prepare to pack their bags, the camps themselves are juggling everything from annual preparations to staffing shortages and rising Covid-19 mitigation strategies.

YMCA Camp Minikani in Hubertus opens June 19 and will host approximately 450 kids a week. Camp Whitcomb/Mason, a Boys & Girls Club camp in Hartland, will host anywhere between 90 to 120 campers per week.

"The countdown is real," said Sarah Carlson, camp director at Camp Whitcomb/Mason. "We're already projecting higher numbers than last summer, which is fantastic."

High attendance numbers means a need for more camp counselors. While Carlson says the camp is in good shape in terms of staffing, the search is still on to fill a few more counselor positions.

"We would love to have more counselors, either for day camp or overnight programming," Carlson said, indicating she hopes to hire five more campers. "Now that families are more comfortable, kids are coming to camp. We've seen our registration numbers increase dramatically over the last couple of years, and this year especially. It's just finding good, awesome, seasonal staff to come and work here and make sure that camper's experience is phenomenal."

Another challenge camps are preparing to face for the third straight summer is Covid-19 mitigation strategies.

At YMCA Camp Minikani, campers will be required to receive a Covid test upon arrival. They will also be required to wear masks when indoors and not with their 'camp' families.

"If they're with people outside of their seven or eight people that they're sleeping with overnight, we'll ask them to mask when indoors so that way we can kind of mitigate those risks and make sure we're doing what we can to keep everyone safe while they're here for their week or two," explained AJ Laughlin, director of administration at YMCA Camp Minikani. "We are not requiring vaccines. We are strongly encouraging, because the more people with the vaccine, the more closely to our normal programming that we can get."

Despite the hurdles that have been presented leading up to the summer season, both directors are confident their staff will be able to provide a fun, safe experience for all campers.

"We have this saying, 'Camp will happen,'" said Laughlin. "At the end of the day, June 19 will come around and we will operate and it will run the same magic as it always has."

"We are getting kids who did not come in 2020 or 2021 back, so that's very cool," Carlson said. "I'm very, very happy. We've got even more staff than we had last summer, so I'm anticipating a great summer when it comes to our staff team."

For more information on Camp Whitcomb/Mason, visit its website here: https://www.bgcmilwaukee.org/our-locations/camp/

For more information on YMCA Camp Minikani, visit its website here: https://www.minikani.org/

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