Summer Camps Take Different Forms During Pandemic

Jun 27, 2020, 7:08 AM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Summer camp, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, isn’t what it used to be.

At Camp Kostopolis, located up Millcreek Canyon in Salt Lake, things were a lot smaller.

During a regular summer, there are sometimes as many as 150 campers. One week early this June, there were a dozen.

Kostopolis Foundation president Mircea Divricean decided to open camp this season but with strict health guidelines. That meant masks, lots of handwashing, a closed campus and smaller camp sizes.

Tryston Fruge fishes at Camp Kostpolis.

“We’re basically running this program in a lockdown mode, red code. There’s nobody allowed on the premises, besides our participants and our staff,” Divricean said.

Divricean said campers and counselors social distance when they can, but admitted that’s not always possible.

Kostopolis campers have disabilities and often need help.

This summer, Kostoplis was accepting children without disabilities, as well.

Camp makes Henry Montague light up, his mother Judy Montague said.

“The brightness that he has displayed since he started is just amazing,” she said.

Henry Montague at Camp Kostopolis’ equestrian center.

Still, because they live with her elderly parents, she’s nervous about her son going to camp.

“Yes, I’m nervous about bringing him here and coming home with something,” Montague said, but she decided to send Henry, who has Down syndrome, because of the good things he takes home, like new social skills.

Jackson Wolf and his sisters, Dakota and Oakley, were at camp — on their back porch.

They’re playing “Who wants to be a pirate millionaire” while participating in Camp Hobe, a camp for kids with cancer and their siblings. Jackson Wolf had bone cancer but no longer needs chemotherapy.

The Wolf family participates in Camp Hobe from their back porch.

“(It) kind of like takes you away from the world of cancer for a little bit. Because cancer is a really stressful world. At this camp, you just feel so included and it’s just a place that you can have a break,” Dakota Wolf said.

Usually held in Settlement Canyon near Tooele, the camp was virtual this year. Many of the children have compromised immune systems, so in-person camp would have been too dangerous.

“Turning a live camp into an online camp is a bit tricky,” director Christina Beckwith said, adding they try to make camp via Zoom calls as active and hands-on as they can.

Even though campers were not physically together, she said there is still a sense of community.

Campers participate in a virtual Camp Hobe.

“When they come to camp. They’re with a group of other kids that really understands what that’s (having cancer) like, but they’re just excited to see each other,” Beckwith said. “They’re excited to see their friends from past camps. They’re just excited to be in a space where they know the other kids get it.”

Jackson’s mother, Dani Wolf, said the purpose of the camp “is to let the kids feel connected. Remind them that they’re not alone. Give them hope still. And let them know that even in a pandemic, they’re not going to be forgotten.”

Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at

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Summer Camps Take Different Forms During Pandemic