Northern Michigan Summer Camps Cancel Season Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Walloon Lake was an idyllic dream Wednesday afternoon. The lake sparkled in Caribbean blue hues while a soft breeze rustled the tall trees near the shoreline.

In a place as gorgeous as this, it’s heartbreaking to think thousands of summer campers won’t get to enjoy it this year.

Camp Daggett on Walloon Lake in Petoskey has served boys and girls every summer for 90 years. 2020 is the first time since World War II that they have decided to scrap their season all together.

Like many camps around the country, Camp Daggett is trying to navigate operations during this pandemic. Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp has also nixed their summer season, and Spring Hill in Evart has canceled at least some sessions in June.Img 4456

The American Camping Association released an 82-page guide on safe operations, but even then, some directors feel the experience wouldn’t be the same.

“You can’t run a summer camp very well if…you can’t do team building activities if you have to be six feet away,” said Camp Daggett director Nathan Fleshman. “If we can’t do those things while also maintaining our high quality programming things that we felt that cancellation was in the best interest of everyone.”

Some summer camps have decided to move some activities online. Fleshman says while that has potential, nothing can replace the smell of the bonfire and the memories you make face to face.

“That wasn’t a route that we felt would be appropriate for you know what we do in our mission,” said Fleshman. “[Our camp] is a chance to connect with one another connect with nature.”

These cancellations create new hurdles for working families. Northern Michigan mother Rachel McGinley usually sends her two boys to day camp every year, but now those plans are up in the air.

Her five and six year old have been going to a childcare center every summer since they were 12 weeks old.

“They’re a second family and I’m a firm believer it takes a village to raise a family and they’ve helped raise our children,” said McGinley. “My husband and I are pretty resilient and so we’ve got a plan and we’re kind of figuring it out.”

Camp Daggett is refunding all families this year and many  are already looking forward to summer 2021.

“I think it’s like 90% or something have decided to just hold their registrations over till next summer,” said Fleshman.

Categories: Coronavirus