Island Grove pool, town sports camps ready to open
Spring 2020 will go down as a bust when it comes to fun, but this summer should have more opportunities for Abington kids and families to have fun around town.
Island Grove will open for swimming Wednesday. And signups are underway for a host of town sponsored sports camps.
The activities will take on a different form at times, in an effort to keep people safe in the ongoing battle against COVID-19. Families looking to enjoy the Island Grove pool, for example, will have to sign up for a time, in order to avoid overcrowding at the beach. And some of the sports camps that traditionally take place in side may happen outdoors.
“It will be a test, but it will be good to get people outdoors,” said Kelly Johnson. Abington’s Parks & Recreation director.
The popular swimming pool at Island Grove will open Wednesday for members only. Traditionally, the pool offers day passes for those who would rather not buy a season pass. This year, with the need to monitor guests and limit the number of people on the property at one time, day passes aren’t being offered as of now.
A membership costs $75 for residents and $100 for non-residents.
In order to abide by social distancing guidelines, only between 14 and 17 families will be allowed at the Grove at any one time. Members can reserve time through the department’s website, similar to making a tee time. Johnson said they are trusting families will only reserve times they definitely will be at the Grove, and not reserve blocks just in case.
“We are asking people to be mindful, that if they register for the whole day it’s because they’re truly going to be staying the whole day,” she said.
The rec department has hired extra staff who would normally be working at the Eager Beaver Day Camp to help answer questions and check in members. The snack shack will be open for only selling prepackaged drinks and food; no hot dogs and popcorn this year. Lifeguards have also been trained and certified on COVID-19 specific modifications.
Johnson said guests will be asked to follow many of the traditional social distancing guidelines. People will be asked when they arrive if they’re feeling unwell. Groups need to set their blankets and chairs at least six feet away from others. Masks shouldn’t be worn while swimming, but should be worn if guests are unable to maintain a six foot distance. Guests are also being asked to not congregate on the narrow docks, and instead use them only for walking and jumping into the water. A full list of rules is available on the Parks & Rec Facebook page.
The season is also going to be slightly shorter, with the pool closing August 12, due to the college-age staff having to return to school earlier.
Sign ups are ongoing for a number of town-operated camps — but not the full roster of traditional offerings.
Johnson said they are looking at the possibility of holding the indoor sports — specifically, basketball and volleyball — outdoors, where social distancing guidelines are looser. All camps will likely feature smaller groups of kids working on individual skills as opposed to group games, she said.
The golf camp is being offered for the first time this year. Abington High School Golf Coach Tim Hill, who will lead the camp, brought the idea to the recreation department. Johnson said she had heard from parents in recent years inquiring about a golf camp and that it is already proving to be one of the more popular offerings.
The popular Eager Beaver, Lego and Arts camps will not take place this year, however.
The Parks & Recreation Commission voted back in May to cancel its Eager Beaver Day Camp. Commission Chairwoman Rory Manning said after discussing it with camp directors, the board decided that state health guidelines would have likely resulted in an unsatisfactory camp experience. Kids would have had to work separately on projects, avoid hugging or high-fiving their friends and favorite counselors, and equipment constantly disinfected. In addition, the camp doesn’t have space to safely shelter dozens of campers indoors in case of a sudden thunderstorm.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions we had to make,” said Manning. “We were trying to figure out ways to make it happen, but it just wasn’t going to be fair for kids and it wasn’t going to be fair for the counselors.”