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ST. LOUIS – Summer camp counselors are expecting to be busier than last year as the world slowly returns to normal. Still, the CDC has COVID guidelines it wants camps to follow.

Approximately 20 different branches of the Gateway Region YMCA send kids to summer day and sleep-over camps. The Y wants parents to know they are doing everything they can to keep your children safe this summer.

Simone Jack said she is very protective of her children.

“With the COVID thing going around, I don’t feel comfortable sending them to no summer camp until everybody is vaccinated,” she said.

Last year, the Gateway Region YMCA limited the number of kids attending summer camps to about 1,400. A big drop from the usual ten thousand youngsters. The number is on the rise for the summer of 2021.

“We’re hoping for at least 5,000. That would be great. We are extremely excited this is a great opportunity,” said Laurie McTearnes, who is in charge of summer camps for the Y.

Parents have been calling the Y registering their kids. Aneta Lavene said she feels more confident about involving her kids in summer activities with other children.

“The groups are smaller these days there less chance of exposure,” she said.

The CDC has issued guidelines – kids must wear masks, social distance, and use hand sanitizer. Health experts are being a little more lenient this summer, kids can go swimming again and take part in field trips, although they have to take precautions on the bus.

“Make sure windows and ventilation are open, make sure all the children are wearing masks,” McTearnes said. “It’s going to be similar to the way children are transported during the school year.”

She says they received positive reviews from parents from the summer of COVID, that could be why a local survey shows 64% of parents want their kids to go to summer camp.

“This year we feel much more comfortable, the guidelines in place, and she’ll be wearing a mask in camp,” said Rachel Welchans, mother of two.

If COVID has been tough on your family’s budget, the YMCA wants you to know they never turn away a camper. They raise money every year to help families that may need some help.