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Special to The News-Courier—
BROWNWOOD—The Texas 4-H Conference Center in Brownwood is making changes to its various summer camps as a means to protect attendees and camp workers from the coronavirus.
Texas 4-H is the youth development component of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, an educational outreach agency of the Texas A&M University System. Each year, the center offers a variety of fun and educational summer camps focused on helping youth develop important life skills.
“We are still planning on having camps this summer,” said Cari Snider, AgriLife Extension program specialist, Brownwood. “Registration is online, and we are actively accepting registrants for these camps.”
Snider said to make the camps safer for attendees the center has enhanced its cleaning and sanitizing efforts, altered some camp activities to provide more personal distance, changed its dormitory and dining arrangements, established social distancing practices for the attendees to better protect themselves and others, plus made other necessary adjustments.
“We will be increasing our cleaning procedures and implementing social distancing practices,” Snider said. “Dorm rooms will have less occupancy and more space between bunks, and we will be taking steps to disinfect rooms between uses.”
Snider said camper groups will also be created by dorm assignments instead of ages as in previous years. “They will have specific counselors assigned to their dorms and groups so they will have less contact with other campers,” she said. “And in some areas, our staff will be wearing appropriate personal protection equipment when social distancing isn’t possible.”
Additional protective upgrades and procedures will be put in place, said Melvin Atkinson, executive director for the center. “We are planning on a mobile check-in for the camps in that campers will check in from their vehicles to minimize contact with others and eliminate non-campers from making contact with others,” Atkinson said. “We will be replacing our HVAC filters with a higher MERV13 grade.”
The Texas 4-H center is an American Camping Association Certified Camp, so many safety and precautionary procedures are already in place, he added. “Our procedures are very good, but we are tweaking some things to go that extra mile to provide additional safety measures for our campers and staff,” he said.
Atkinson said some of the actions the Texas 4-H center has taken include:
- Having center staff and nurse coordinate with the local health department on plans and COVID-19 monitoring and response.
- Operating the camp at less than 50% capacity.
- Providing additional information to parents and campers on COVID-19 concerns and health protocols.
- Moving the medical clinic to provide more space and better response to any potential problems.
- Limiting shared equipment and disinfecting between users.
- Assigning equipment to specific groups with no sharing between groups where applicable.
- Adjusting recreational activities and the camp’s traditional dance to maintain distancing.