Summer camp plans interrupted by coronavirus

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BENTON, Ill. – Camp songs might sound different this summer thanks to COVID-19.

“The summer camp industry is about a $4 billion industry,” said Andy Brown, owner of Camp Manitowa in Benton, Illinois. “There are over 7,000 summer camps in the United States. So, collectively, all of us are completely devastated by what’s going on right now. We work and plan for 10 months to be ready for these two months we get to deliver our program. So, we don’t take this decision lightly at all. If there was any we would could safely operate our programs, we would safely do so.”

With social distancing and mask rules, summer camp organizers have faced a daunting decision.

The Saint Louis Zoo Camp canceled for this summer. Day camps and sleepaway summer camps are looking to return in 2021.

“We’re making our property available as a small retreat, cabin getaway facility,” Brown said. “We’re now listed on Airbnb. We can provide a safe, social distance for your family. We have rustic cabins and yurts all the way up to a lodge and central air. And it’s a wonderful opportunity to spend time in the country.”

The lost summer is a bummer for boys and girls and parents. That’s why camps like the Boy Scouts Across Missouri and Camp Manitowa are making a pitch to families to consider holding their own family camp.

“We love you and could not wait to have you at camp this summer,” Brown said. “And I guess the one message is we’ll be back in summer 2021 and beyond.”

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