Because of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Richmond Parks and Recreation has transformed its annual summer camp program to an at-home summer camp.
"We knew pretty early on the summer camp we normally have wasn't going to happen," said Mason Chamblee, museum and recreational programmer for the department.
Despite not being able to hold summer camp in-person as 59 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Madison County as of Friday afternoon, the parks department wanted to still serve the people of Richmond. Two cases are new, and 49 patients have recovered, the health department reported.
"We really wanted to get something out there to the public … something to keep them interested, just entertain them and help them pass the time," Chamblee said.
Traditionally, it holds an in-person camp each summer, and Chamblee said staff at the department is said they won't see kids this summer like normal.
"It's sad that we can't be out there, doing all this, getting to meet these kids in person," Chamblee added. He explained most years, the same children come back after attending the camp previously. "You get to know people."
At the same time, Chamblee said he's excited to be able to offer the program.
"It kind of gives kids that are at-home during the summertime something to engage in, something to do," he said.
So from Monday through the week of July 30, families can request free kits the parks department has packed with activities, crafts and other items for children. Additionally, there will be weekly online activities and information posted on the department's Facebook page, @richmondkyparks.
The department will follow all COVID-19 safety procedures while organizing the pick-up of the at-home kits.
Chamblee said the department wanted to provide the kits because the summer camp is a "huge benefit to a lot of people."
The kits, he explained, include different themes with each week. For example, one week is ocean week and another week is picnic week.
"We're trying to hit a couple different areas, just so a 5-year-old can get just as much out of them as a 10-year-old," he said.
Elizabeth Eversole, program coordinator, had been researching and working on the activities for the Summer Camp At Home program for a month to a month and a half, Chamblee said.
"It's a great way to reach out to the kids," Chamblee explained. "We're also really happy we get to provide some kind of service, something people really do want and enjoy. … We're always going to want to find ways we can engage with people regardless of the situation around the globe and in Richmond.
"Overall, we're pretty excited we get to bring this to the people of Richmond."
In addition, Chamblee said the department plans to evolve and adapt during the summer to meet needs for families.
"We're here to serve the people of Richmond," he said.To register for an at-home summer camp kit, visit richmond.ky.us/summer-day-camp-richmond-ky or contact the department on Facebook.
When picking up kits, participants must arrive in the time slot they have chosen.
For more information or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 859-623-8753.
Kits are limited in supply, and priority will be given to residents of Richmond.
Reach Sara Kuhl at 624-6626; follow her on Twitter @saraekuhl.