Personal Perspective: School’s back, so let’s think back to summer fun

Now that school days are back – in a most unusual way – it is a good time to remember those who labored to implement COVID-safe summertime activities for kids.

COVID put a damper on many summer kids’ activities, but I would like to shine a spotlight on just a few of several programs that managed to bring sunshine into the lives of youngsters. The reporters on this topic are -not surprisingly – my grandkids.

Camp Cool—located at 19 South Second Avenue at the Reformed Church Highland Park was “really cool,” in the words of 10 year old Harry Solomon.  The camp adopted “rigorous” COVID prevention measures, while with equal energy pursued a wide variety of fun activities – with participants remaining socially distant and masked, said Harry.  Harry made particular note of the camp’s “Theater Week, when we had a variety of acting exercises, such as acting out different people in our lives.”

Eleven year old Rubin Hersh elaborated: “With four air purifiers, two air dehumidifiers and two air conditioners, Camp Cool has been a fun, and safe camp even during coronavirus. In the large basement of the church, 20 kids, three or four volunteers (often ‘volunteens,’ one of whom was 13-year old Lily Solomon), and two counselors came to camp with masks and kept their distance from one another. Four kids during indoor activities were allowed at each table game with tape representing spectator lines six feet away from the table. There was an hour and a half of outside time before lunch (four kids were allowed at a table for lunch). There were daily camp activities, plenty of board games, and before anyone ate, the camp counselors made sure all the campers’ hands are washed. As a camper at Camp Cool, I recommend the camp next year for any 2nd through 5th grader,” said Rubin.

I adored the Highland Park Recreation Department Travel Baseball. Starved for live baseball games, I had a wonderful time watching my grandson and the youngsters play softball games – no more t-ball or gentle pitches. These young guys played with passion and increasing skill, thanks to infinitely encouraging, patient, instructive and committed coaches.

Dance instruction moved forward – again with appropriate COVID precautions. Princeton Ballet School, part of the New Brunswick based American Repertory Ballet, had Lily Solomon doing choreography. Yvonne’s School of Dance based in Edison managed to put on a spectacular dance revue, in which Ilana Hersh sparkled like her sparkly costumes.

A final shout out goes to the George Street Playhouse Virtual Summer Theatre Academy that somehow made a Zoom classes come alive for kids of all ages. (different age-appropriate programs) The kids really interacted with each other and had an opportunity to put their creative juices on display, said Lily Solomon. And six-year-old Sam Solomon – for whom school instruction via Zoom had its challenges – “had a super time” using his imagination and was totally focused during his on-line acting class in which he interacted with many of his friends.

To the numerous creative, technologically savvy, and industrious individuals who crafted summer programs for Highland Park youngsters under the cloud of COVID, parents and kids offer an energetic high five – without touching, of course.

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