Palm Coast - Campers and counselors at Palm Coast's 2020 Fun in the Sun Summer Camp were not sure what to expect.

This year's camp was the first ever to be organized under the umbrella of a COVID-19 pandemic. Staff had a brief amount of time to pull together CDC-recommended safety plans and redirect City personnel resources while still creating a fun environment for 76 kids.

The biggest challenge that staff needed to overcome was providing camp in an entirely new way to accommodate for safety precautions and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Everyone carefully followed safety measures practicing consistent social distancing, using hand sanitizer, following drive-through camper drop-off and pick-up, and taking temperatures. 

"We were more innovative and creative than ever before in providing our Fun in the Sun summer camp during this challenging time," said Parks & Recreation Director Lauren Johnston. "I am so proud of the resiliency demonstrated by our staff and the collaboration it took across our entire department to offer this wonderful service to the youth in our community." 

Camp counselors needed to schedule activities in three different locations and limit registration to half the normal spots in order to follow social distancing. Despite this year's challenges and unpredictability, summer camp was a huge success.

"Because of the creativity and dedication of our counselors, campers were never bored," said Youth Recreation Specialist Ashley Lewis. Four separate age groups guided by 17 staff members met at the Community Center. Then after Flagler County School District announced the delayed start to school, Parks & Rec staff jumped at the chance to continue offering quality recreation experiences for children.

Camp moved to the Palm Coast Aquatics Center classroom and Linear Park and filled every single day with non-stop laughter and delight. Throughout camp, they cooked, created crafts, participated in science experiments, held sports competitions, and enjoyed outdoor water activities. They often invented new games with unusual props such as hula hoops and scooters. Camp offered the perfect reprieve for kids who had been mostly at home for two months.

One dad whose nine-year-old daughter joined Fun in the Sun Camp was particularly impressed. His family was visiting Palm Coast this summer from Virginia and his daughter has attended a variety of camps from many other cities and states. "This is the best time she's ever had in any camp," he shared. "Thank you for making her summer so special this year."

In an extraordinary year, Parks & Recreation provided the most extraordinary summer camp ever.