By: Joshua Gras, Writer / Follow South Jersey News Reporting Intern
ELMER, N.J. — After months of uncertainty, summer camps across the state have made tentative plans that may or may not be usable this year. On April 28, however, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order detailing the guidelines camps must follow in order to open this summer. The fact that summer camps will be allowed to open for in-person operations is a victory in itself, as Appel Farm is one of the many camps that was waiting for the signal needed to finalize its plans.
Jennie Quinn, Public Outreach Director of Appel Farm, is excited to see the Appel Farm Arts & Music Campus’ summer camp reopening this summer. The camp is currently finalizing its plans for this summer, but Quinn confirmed that the camp will operate in-person this year. Last year, Appel Farm made the decision to offer at-home programs through Discord — a private, server-based social networking platform mostly used by those who play video games — last summer.
The camp was dedicated to making sure campers got a good experience, but it also realized that many would rather wait until the pandemic was over to resume their attendance. As a result, Appel Farm refunded every family that registered for the in-person programs that were canceled last summer. Fundraising events were key in allowing the camp to stay afloat when the pandemic hit hardest throughout 2020.
Although in-person operations will resume this year, it won’t come without its challenges for the campers and staff at Appel Farm. Due to current international travel bans, staff with years of experience won’t be able to come to the United States from abroad, which has left the camp trying to find replacements. Quinn expressed her confidence in Appel Farm’s ability to find replacements, saying that the farm was on the right track in this regard.
Additionally, Appel Farm’s camp trips, such as the highly-anticipated annual beach trip, will look a little different this year due to the required regulations, but Quinn maintained that she didn’t want campers to “look at this summer as a summer of loss.” She said that, although trips will look and perhaps feel different, Appel Farm’s higher-ups are finding ways to bring those experiences to camp safely thanks to their creative prowess.
“Who better than the creatives to meet these challenges,” Quinn said.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.