Classes at the New Orleans JCC Pre-K and Nursery School officially begin Monday, August 31 with smaller groups and enhanced safety procedures. These procedures were put to the test over the summer as we hosted a smaller-than-usual, but especially meaningful summer camp.
“Hearing laughter throughout the halls really brought the JCC back to life,” said Amanda Taylor, Early Childhood Camp Director. “Not only did we give the families a small bit of normalcy, the families also gave the JCC more than they will ever know...a reason to keep planning and moving forward to the lovely days ahead.”
Parents, teachers, and students throughout the country face many uncertainties as schools adapt to learning in a pandemic. But however schools continue operations this fall, the JCC camp team feels confident that students of all ages are up for the challenge.
Assistant Camp Director Brigid MacArthur-Thompson said new safety procedures may have altered day-to-day camp activities, but “it is totally possible to have an amazing time without dwelling on the differences that have come because of Coronavirus.”
Brigid also shared that campers were more resilient and adaptable than expected. “They were better at wearing masks and keeping their distance than a lot of adults I know,” she said.
Amanda added, “Not once did any of them fight or complain about wearing masks or not having field trips.”
Already shining examples of resiliency, campers exemplified empathy to those impacted by COVID-19. “Kindness and love are more important than ever,” Brigid said. “And kids have a lot to share!”
“There were so many times this summer when our campers wanted to work on projects to raise money or collect donations to help people in need. It was so inspiring to see them wanting to help others while experiencing their own difficulties,” she said.
Patience and empathy for others will be critical this school year, and a lot can be learned from children, whose imaginations and ingenuity help them adapt to changing situations.
“It is easy to look at all of the things we weren’t able to do this camp season, such as field trips and big group gatherings, but it turns out that camp was just as fun and special without those added fancy things,” Brigid said.
Amanda viewed these restrictions as an opportunity to plan with intention, instead of packing schedules with back-to-back activities to keep campers busy.
“Children were able to get back to the ‘roots’ of being a kid,” she said. “We were able to strip everything away and get back to ‘why’ we are really here...the kids. Just watching groups play in the rain and laugh together made me so happy.”
Summer camp proved to be valuable not only for the campers, but also the camp staff. Speaking of her experience, Brigid said, “I know that I will remember this summer very specifically for the rest of my life.” We hope the same can be said by students and teachers when reflecting on the 2020-2021 school year.
“When our campers think back on this year when their lives were completely disrupted and changed, they can think of camp at the JCC as a safe haven and a consistent source of joy in their lives, which couldn’t be stopped even in the midst of a global pandemic.”
A note about safety: Through our partnership with Children’s Hospital New Orleans, we are receiving consultative guidance from a team of COVID-19 Medical Experts, involving pediatric infectious disease specialists and physicians dedicated to school wellness initiatives just for kids. For more about our policies for the upcoming school year, visit nojcc.org/ns-covid.