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COVID-19’s impact on Summer Camp

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RHINELANDER, Wis. (WAOW) -- Camps across the country find themselves closed or open with fewer campers and a deficit to match. Fort Wilderness, in the Northwoods, finds itself somewhere in between.

Todd Leyden said, "The thing is, lives are changed at this place. I mean people absolutely love this place."

He and the board behind Fort Wilderness decided to close their youth camp early this summer, in "an abundance of caution."

With a predicted revenue loss of about forty percent, the camp has made changes to bring families back.

"The best way to prevent transmission of this disease is to be outdoors. So we have literally tried to figure out how do we do everything outdoors."

The outdoors alone are not a guaranteed immunity for campers, but risk is lower if you social distance.

Fort Wilderness moved all activities outside, even dining. Additionally, most staff members are wearing masks and some wear shields.

It's one of the way's the camp is working to stay open, while neighboring camps in the county are closing or operating with a limited number of campers.

This is a small sample of camps Oneida County with their status available online.

For one father, COVID-19 created a unique opportunity. Ekow Mensah tells news nine his company announced furloughs early this year and eventually laid him off.

He is now using the opportunity to bond with his children and volunteer in the Northwoods. "My wife is still working; she runs her own consulting business, so we've had the opportunity to basically come and volunteer hear at the fort."

Julie and Nicholas Breach were camping with their church this week. "They've done an excellent job of keeping it like camp, but keeping in safety precautions," Julie said.

Next summer, the executive director indicated the fort could still be working with changes but he said they are just taking it one week at a time.

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Tom Lally

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