Friends Summer Camp Update

Katie Bryan, Staff Writer

Is Wilmington Friends Summer camp going to happen this summer? Can everyone go? Yes! From Mighty Munchkins (3-4 years old) to middle schoolers, students will enjoy the camp that Friends has to offer this summer. However, there are some changes.
What is the camp like? The camp is mostly made up of kids who go to school at WFS, but anyone is welcome to apply. This means that Friends kids get to make friends with campers they do not know. The camp lasts from 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM with a 12:30 lunch that splits the day into two shifts, morning and afternoon. The campers have a lot of freedom to do what they want, but there are also planned activities and sometimes trips in the afternoon. Some examples of the trips are bowling, swimming at the Arden pool, ice skating, and playing games at Bellevue state park. Some of the kids’ favorite activities are using the bubble machine, sharks and minnows, and playing on the Friend’s playground. Each week has different themes and activities such as, ‘team building’ and ‘cooking’.
Even amidst the pandemic, the camp managed to still be held last summer (2020). Although, like most things in 2020, they had to make changes because of COVID-19. The number of campers decreased by one-third and mask-wearing was enforced. The camp usually starts close to the end of the academic year (the first week of June), but they opened July 6th instead. The campers were still able to go on fun trips in the afternoon, but they were not able to go ice skating, which is something both the campers and the counselors look forward to. Another change was they were not allowed in the wrestling room because of ventilation and proximity concerns. Everyone attending the camp had to submit daily screening reports. Even with the added stress and struggle due to COVID-19, the camp persevered.
Vivian and Zoe Mooney-Doyle said, “(We) like how nice and funny all the counselors are.” Camp counselors are a big reason why the camp is so much fun. They host all of the games in the morning, and they help bring the campers to and from different trips. Gianna Martinelli, a camp counselor for two years, said, “It’s the best job ever if you like kids.” They spend about 6 hours a day hanging out and playing games with the kids. This summer, because of the coronavirus disease, they had to enforce that the kids wore masks and set aside time throughout the day for hand washing. Martinelli conveyed that a big part of her job last summer was telling kids to keep their masks on and to wash their hands more than usual. She mentioned that at the beginning of the summer mask-wearing wasn’t normalized as much as it is now. There are two kinds of camp counselors, counselors in training (CIT) and regular camp counselors. To be hired as a paid camp counselor, teenagers have to do summer as a CIT. Even without the pay, a lot of teens enjoy the experience because the campers make it fun.
This summer the camp will start closer to the end of the school year. Mask wearing will still be enforced, but they plan to open up some of the other rooms to use. The biggest change between last summer and this summer is the number of campers who signed up. In the kindergarten group, there were only 12 kids last year, and this year there will be 16 spots open. This means more work for the counselors. Carlos Charriez, the director, described his job as, “running around like a chicken with its head cut off.”
The campers, the counselors, and Carlos Charriez are excited and ready for Friends Camp!