Summer camps are being disrupted by severe weather

On a rainy Sunday in July, the Trail Blazers begin arriving at Camp Squanto, a sleep-away 100-acre retreat in southern New Hampshire. Parents led them.

Comprised of children about to enter Years Four to Six, the Trail Blazers were looking forward to summer days spent playing sports, doing arts and crafts projects and jumping off floating docks into the cool waters of Swansea Lake.

As many campers tried to settle in, the rainstorm intensified. Within hours, flash floods turned the roads around the camp into muddy rivers.

Campers, parents and staff crowded into the dining inn. Many of them slept on the floor all night, intermittently checking weather updates as it continued to rain the next day.

The next afternoon, the local fire department An evacuation was carried out. Camp Squanto is closed.

“We’ve had heavy rains and things like that,” said Jim Kondap, the camp’s executive director, in a phone interview. “But nothing of this magnitude. Never.”

The flood that wiped out Dora at Camp Squanto, a Christian youth camp he is a part of Pilgrim Pines Camp and Retreat Center In Swansea, New Hampshire, it occurred during a summer of extreme weather events across the United States, many of which were fueled by climate change.

Flood damage at Camp Squanto, New…Jim Kondap

In addition to torrential rains and deadly heat waves, smoke waves from nearly 900 wildfires in Canada have darkened the skies across much of the country and made the air breathable.

Campers are still swimming, playing tetherball, and singing around the fire as they take steps toward independence this summer, but they’ve also been dealing with a perilous natural environment.

Parents who have sent their children for an enriching outdoor experience – perhaps in hopes of some kid-free time – have received alarming messages from camp managers, with updates on recent flooding, unhealthy airflow or a heat blast. The severe weather came at a time of increased demand for summer camp, three years into the pandemic’s onset.

It started with a drift of smoke from Canada, which triggered air quality alerts in the Midwest and Northeast as the camping season begins.

At Tanglewood Nature Center in Elmira, New York, which runs a day camp for elementary school-age children, the air quality index reached 183 this month, which is an unhealthy level. The smoke forced the camp Stay indoorsWhere they built paper volcanoes. The wildfire also meant more indoor activities for campers at YMCA Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer in Fumbell, Pennsylvania.

A storm that wreaked havoc on Camp Squanto, dumping up to eight inches of rain across much of the Northeast, disrupted Camp Kilolette in Hancock, Va. Washed roads led to the cancellation of a three-day camping trip in the Green Mountains that was scheduled to accommodate 80 campers. Efforts to find an alternative location for an overnight flight were unsuccessful.

“A lot of places were wet,” said Kate Seeger, who runs the nearly century-old camp with her husband, Dean Spencer. Friends said, “You are welcome to come, but there is no place to pitch a tent.”

in Tennis and Sports Camps in WindridgeThunderstorms in Roxbury, Vt., have kept 110 children off the red clay playgrounds too much in recent weeks, said Never Hoen, co-director of the camp.

“This summer has been very hot and humid in Vermont,” Ms. Hoen said. “We’ve had our kids inside more than usual, which we don’t like. When they’re outside, because of that humidity, it’s uncomfortable.”

Summer camps in the West and Southwest have tried to keep steady during bouts of sweltering heat. At Heart O’ the Hills, an overnight camp for girls ages 6-16 in Hunt, Texas, hot weather has always been a concern. Since last month, the heat dome has kept temperatures above 100 degrees in many parts of the state.

“We have a giant cooler — we call it the Monster — where the girls always have access to water,” said Cindy Janke, camp office manager. “They always take a break between 2 and 4 to get out of the heat. At mealtime, we made them drink 2 cups of water instead of 1.”

These precautions are unknown in the decades-old camp of the Texas Hill Country. But this summer, advisors have been particularly cautious.

“We’re getting the most out of it because of the sweltering heat,” Ms. Janke said. “There have been more than 100 here. Girls are asked – and the principals are constantly checking to make sure they have a bottle of water wherever they go.”

Tom Rosenberg, president and CEO of Camp Managers, said they have a lot of experience planning with regards to weather events. American Camp Association, An accredited organization for summer camps. “That planning is getting stronger,” he said, “because we’re being tested in ways we haven’t done before.”

Summer 2023 has taught campers to be flexible and adaptable.

“Part of the camp experience is about learning how to take care of yourself,” Mr. Rosenberg said. Part of that is teaching them how to have fun despite the weather. This generation of kids is growing up knowing that everyone brings a hat, water bottle, and sunscreen to camp.”

In Phoenix, the temperature was above 110 degrees for 19 days in a row, breaking a record. A two hour drive away, at Friendly Pine Campin Prescott, Arizona, the days are a little cooler—in the upper 90s, topping the 100.

Sayaka Pearson, business manager for Friendly Pines, said that for the 230 children in the current cycle of camp, these temperatures have been a welcome relief.

“They actually do a great job, because most of them come from Phoenix,” said Ms. Pearson. “Phoenix is ​​116, 120. They’re like, ‘This looks great.'”

Heatwaves and related natural disasters have also affected campers outside the United States. BBC on Monday reported it 1,200 children were evacuated From a summer camp in Loutraki, Greece, a coastal town west of Athens, as flames approach. Two other summer camps in Greece have been evacuated due to fires that occurred during a series of scorching days across southern Europe.

For many children, weather-related disruptions have been a disappointment. Silas Johnson, 9, was all set to attend Camp Squanto this month — the first time he’d spent an entire week there. His mother, Sarah Kwan Johnson, was driving him from Rhode Island to New Hampshire when the storm hit. As they approached the camp, they crashed into a roadblock and were removed by the police.

“There was a loud expression and voice from the back seat,” said Ms. Kwan Johnson.

She added that her son was looking forward to archery, swimming and kayaking. He ended up at home for the week he was going to be at camp.

“He was reading Calvin and Hobbes,” said Mrs. Kwan Johnson. “He did Parkour. He had to think of things to do.”