Summer Camp demand returns in record numbers as COVID restrictions ease

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Sioux Falls, S.D. (KELO) — Kids in KELOLAND have enjoyed about a month of summer vacation already, and for many, that’s meant time spent at camp–a right of passage many kids missed last summer.

“We went to about half the length of activities and half the campers last year,” Leif Ericson Camp Director Mike Murphy said.

“Our numbers just weren’t the same, we ended up having to cancel some camps,” Washington Pavilion Director of Education Madelyn Grogan said.

But one look at summer camps around Sioux Falls this year, you can see a very different story.

“We are actually on pace for a record enrollment summer,” Murphy said. “In talking to a lot of our parents it really is that desire to just have more of a traditional summer, to get their kids outdoors, being active, being around other kids is really important for them and it’s exciting to have them back out here.”

Camp Leif Ericson has 3,200 campers signed up already this year, with room to welcome even more campers yet this summer.

“We still do have room for more campers both from a space and staffing standpoint, we can add more staff throughout the summer if we need to,” Murphy said.

“Most of our camps are either sold out or getting very close to being sold out. We do have a handful, maybe 10 camps, that still have room for students, we do encourage people to get after that quickly,” Grogan said.

Grogan believes the pent-up demand from the pandemic helped to spur on this summer’s numbers, but she says there’s likely another factor behind the increased demand as well.

“As our city and our community continue to grow, the need for summer programming and summer care has definitely grown with it,” Grogan said.

“We have seen that to be a continuing trend in the number of new families to Sioux Falls and the number of new families to camp Leif Ericson each year,” Murphy said.

While the number of campers is up, registrations came in much later than usual as many parents waiting until May or June to sign up, waiting to see if the pandemic would impact another year of summer camp, but this year both Sioux Falls camps are operating at full capacity, with some added safety measures.

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