HONOLULU(KHON2) — Looking for something fun for your keiki to do this summer? Summer programs will be open. But spots are limited and things will be different than in years past.
For parents, summer programs are a welcome option to get their keiki out of the house after being cooped up for so long. It’s also a great way to allow kids to interact with their peers in a safe and controlled environment.
A Honolulu resident and parent named Shaina just enrolled her 10-year-old daughter in the Kamaaina Kids Summer Program.
“Ever since the whole COVID thing, she wasn’t able to be around her friends and couldn’t really see her cousins or play with her cousins. She was really bummed about it, but when I told her that I signed her up (for Kamaaina Kids) she’s more than excited to see everyone, to meet new people. She’s very happy,” Shaina said.
Lisa Ontai, the vice president of marketing at YMCA Honolulu said they are super excited to be welcoming back all families for their summer program.
“We’re offering the summer day camp at all six of our YMCA branches including Camp Erdman,” Ontai explained.
Kamaaina Kids public relations supervisor Kelsea Lickert said they are offering their summer program at a number of locations, including their newly opened space in Windward Mall, but she said space is still very limited this year due to social distancing guidelines.
“We’re having to limit the number of kids per location, which is making availability to families a little more difficult.”
Lickert and Ontai urge parents to sign up soon because space will fill up quickly.
They also want parents to be aware that some things have changed this year.
“It is going to look a little different. We’re following state and city guidelines so the children are wearing masks,” Ontai explained.
Staff members are also required to wear protective masks.
And other safety protocols have been put in place.
“Every child, every staff member that comes into our facility — we are doing temperature checks. If you have a temperature of 100.4 or more, we’re asking you to stay home,” Ontai said.
Sanitization measures have been beefed up as well.
“We are sanitizing the classrooms, equipment, that we’re using. We’re washing hands every hour, every time we do a new activity. So we really just ramped-up all of our sanitary precautionary measures in our programs,” Lickert said.
Activities will be limited to the program location.
“It’s not going to look like past years where we have these kids out on the water or at Bishop Museum and Sea Life Park because of all the restrictions right now,” Lickert explained.
Because field trips are not allowed, the staff are being extra creative and finding ways to give old games a new twist.
“All of our activities have been formatted to allow for social distancing. You’ll see that even in our arts and crafts activities, they’re going to be at opposite ends of the table. Our outdoor activities have all been modified so that they can keep their distance. Even a simple game of tag. You’re going to see them playing with pool noodles,” Ontai said.
Camp Erdman’s overnight camp will be closed but they are offering a day camp starting June 15th through August 7th.
Ontai said the camp will have all the fun elements of Camp Erdman, including archery, climbing the alpine tower, and water play.
The goal of both summer programs is to help families by keeping the kids active and allowing the parents the space they need to work or get other things done.
“I’m sure some parents are going a little stir crazy having their kids around full time and if they need a break. We understand and we support them and we’re here for them in that way,” Lickert said.
“As for the kids, they’re absolutely used to having a schedule outside of the house, so for 4:41 them to have an outlet where they can go to a program, be with people their age, where they can make friends, that’s what we’re here to do provide these engaging activities and an avenue for kids to make friends and practice social emotional learning.”
Financial assistance for summer programs is available through the state’s Child Care Connection Program. Ontai said it can provide up to 100 percent of financial assistance for six months.
The city and county also has a COVID-19 Hardship Fund, which is providing $500 in childcare per month, per family.
Ontai said both are need based. For more information about financial aid for summer programs, click here.