Summer camp operator says govt should have given camps more notice

The late-night announcement by the government on Sunday that summer camps on New Providence and Grand Bahama are prohibited caught many camp organizers by surprise and left them scrambling. 

Allandra Russell, the coordinator of Bridge the Gap Summer Camp, said yesterday that her camp was in its fifth and final week. 

Russell said she learned about the new law when she woke up around 4 a.m. yesterday. She said a friend sent her a message after 11 p.m. on Sunday. 

“I was shocked because there was no prior knowledge of it,” she said.

“I know, initially, there was some mention of recreational activities but there was nothing specifically mentioning summer school or that of summer camps. 

“At 4 a.m., I was looking for parents’ numbers and WhatsApping about 35, 40 parents to inform them of what I found out.”

Russell said she had two parents who she could not reach who showed up at the camp. 

“They were really, really shocked by it,” she said. 

The amendment to the emergency powers law was released at 10:20 p.m. on Sunday. 

On Friday, Minister of Health Renward Wells announced several new restrictions to fight off a surge of COVID-19 cases. 

He did not mention that summer camps were prohibited.

Russell said the government should have given camp organizers an earlier warning. 

“At least when they would’ve done their communication on Friday, that should have been said right then and there,” she said.

“I’m thinking they realized they might have missed it and they rectified it by putting that out on Sunday night. 

“Parents have to go to work. So, you have these parents who have to go to work waking up to a message that, hey, there is nowhere to take their kids.”

She said she will have to issue refunds to parents.

The camp provides students with a blend of academics, literacy and numeracy skills, and extracurricular activities, she said. 

Russell said she was expecting roughly 40 kids, ages three to nine, to take part in the camp this week.

Campers who were set to start Ardastra Gardens’ “The Great Garden Escape” camp yesterday were turned away. 

An official declined to comment.

Bahamas Rowing, the governing body of competitive indoor, outdoor and coastal rowing in the country, which was holding a rowing summer camp, said it was discontinuing its camp as well. 

“In compliance with the new updated COVID-19 orders, The Bahamas Rowing Summer Camp will discontinue with immediate effect,” it said on its Facebook page.

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the assistant editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to assistant news editor in December 2018. Education: College of The Bahamas, English

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