Overnight summer camp struggles during pandemic

Overnight summer camp struggles during pandemic

GOOCHLAND, Va. (WWBT) - So many industries find themselves struggling in recent months, especially those that depend on summer income. Under Governor Ralph Northam’s guidelines, overnight summer camps remain closed, including Westview on The James in Goochland County.

Under normal circumstances, kayaks and canoes would be out on the water, as campgoers frolicked amongst the grass. But instead, they sit untouched at the campgrounds.

”With COVID-19, we’re just not able to operate as normal this summer,” said Camp Director Bobby Boyd.

Boyd says that’s the harsh reality for overnight summer camps like Westview, closed to the 1,400 kids that were meant to be here this season. But they’re not the only camp struggling right now.

”Everybody is trying to do things differently; some are trying virtual camps, some have just suspended completely, and some are trying a day camp program,” he said.

Unfortunately, Boyd said Westview’s location in a remote part of Goochland makes it hard for parents to justify making the trip to drop-off and pick-up their campers for a day-program, as so staff has tried other means.

”We’re actually one of the first camps to announce that we wanted to do virtual camp. We really started going in that direction, but the feedback we got was that this wasn’t the camping experience that campers wanted,” Boyd said.

Boyd says the camp has tried every financial lifeline they could, including federal loans, but that was mostly to maintain the 780 acres of land. Now, they’ve turned to crowdfunding, launching a campaign to offset the debt or risk closing altogether.

“It was really tragic that we had to suspend when everything was looking so good at the beginning of this year. But that’s just how things are. We’re just rolling with the punches. We’re off to a pretty good start with that but we still need help,” Boyd added.

The camp launched the $100,000 campaign late last month to help make ends meet. On its page, Boyd wrote:

“Because of COVID-19, we have had to suspend summer camp in 2020. We have also lost many groups which help support our operations. We have done all that we can to cut back on expenses, such as reducing full time staff (from 7 to 4), cutting expenses across the board, and postponing several important maintenance and upkeep projects. We have managed to reduce yearly expenses by over 50% this year; however, despite these cuts, we anticipate losing roughly $200,000 in 2020! Any donation helps us, and during this time of need we simply ask that you consider giving back to help this wonderful camp that we all love.”

The page can be found here.

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