Virginia summer camps call for help from state

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 5:41 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - Summer camp is celebrated in stories and songs as a rite of youthful passage.

But, like school and graduation, it’s canceled by coronavirus.

“We’re in a really critical, we’re in really quite a critical state here,” said Allison Ryals of Camp Caroline Furnace.

Speaking in a Zoom conference, camp operators explained that they operate almost entirely in the summer, meaning the shutdown also shut down all their income.

“I can’t speak for everybody, but for most camps, the last time we received income was in the spring or summer of 2019,” said Camp Mont Shenandoah’s Ann Warner. “This year nobody’s received any income or very little income.”

They explain that aid for more conventional, year-round businesses was not available to camps because of various technicalities, and without it, the results could ruin them.

To ensure kids have someplace to return, this coalition of camps is hoping for state help.

“What we need for Virginia summer camps is a grant, a grant for the overnight summer camp industry,” Tom Powell of Camp Caroline Furnace said. “We’re asking for 75 percent of each organization’s average revenue over the last three years. That’s the kind of grant money we need to survive over the next two years.”

Warner bluntly said, “There are camps this year that may not survive due to this.”

Silencing the squeals and songs of campers not just for a year, but forever.

“Camp has got to be there,” Ryals said. “Camp has got to be there to remind us how it was to live in community. We will all need that reminder.”

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