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Parents scramble to fill the summer camp void

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — “People are panicked. There’s the people who are grieving over it and the people who are panicked, because they do need to work,” Katy Mann said.

Parents across central Indiana scrambling to figure out child care over the summer months. Many families with school age children rely on summer camps for child care, but many of those options are moving to virtual camps or canceling all together with uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

The Girl Scouts of Central Indiana is the latest to cancel day and resident camps.  

Mann, who is the founder of Indy with Kids, said she is working to help Indiana families navigate this unprecedented summer.

“Wouldn’t it be so awesome to have an entire summer where you didn’t have to go to work and you could just really spend time with your family? Yes, but it’s not the reality for so many of our Indiana families,” Mann said.

She said some camps like Carmel Clay Park and Recreation camps are spreading out across the city to provide smaller camps at several locations, instead of a big camp all together. Others like the Indianapolis Art Center are holding virtual camps.

But online camps or those with limited hours, may only help certain families.

“It’s not that people don’t want to go back to work, what do we do with all these kids and how do we keep them healthy and keep our families protected from all the potential illness out there and how can we go back to work when we have no childcare for our kids?,” Mann said.

Nicole Ramey of Avon just starting working full time and is disappointed to receive notifications that plans for her son are falling through.

“We used school camps as like a fun thing to do, but because my husband was supposed to be gone all of June and most of July, I was planning on utilizing them a lot,” Ramey said.

Ramey’s son is 11 years old and has asthma, so leaving him home alone all summer isn’t ideal.

“I’m blessed to work for an amazing company that is very family-centered but I don’t want to push that too far,” Ramey said. “Right now, it’s OK, but I’m nervous to see what’s going to happen.”

Mann said she’s seeing the most cancellations for June, but many organizations are on hold when it comes to July.

Just this week, the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana announced they will not hold day or resident camps, but will offer Lead Your Own Adventure Days starting June 12 and camp properties and that option may expand to activities for troops in July.

Local boy scouts leaders have canceled all in-person summer camps for 2020.

As of right now, the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis is waiting to make a final decision, but is opening temporary childcare sites starting next week.

If you are looking for options to keep your kids busy this summer, check out backyardsummercamps.com. It’s a free resource powered by Indy with Kids. Mann also suggests teaming up with family and neighbors to find kids safe and healthy care over the summer months.

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