Towns Move Cautiously Ahead With Summer Youth Programs

By: Brad Joyal

Topics: Chatham , Harwich , Orleans news , Recreation

Kickball will be one of many activities kids will enjoy this summer when the Chatham, Harwich and Orleans summer recreation programs resume. FILE PHOTO

Local children from Chatham, Harwich and Orleans will be able to experience somewhat-normal activities this summer when all three towns resume their summer recreation programs after canceling the 2020 lineups due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re so excited to move forward and give the kids some semblance of normalcy,” said Chatham Youth Service Coordinator Sharon Stark.

Although COVID-19 remains a very real concern on the Lower Cape, all three towns will offer scaled-back versions of their summer recreation programs.

Registration is already underway for Orleans’ elementary school summer recreation program and Orleans Recreation (Just Try It) Middle School program online at orleansrecreation.com.

The elementary program is for grades K-5 and will be held at Orleans Elementary School, while the middle school program is designed for grades 6-8 and will take place at Nauset Regional Middle School.

Both programs are scheduled to run from July 6 until Aug. 13. There is a $125 registration fee for residents and $150 fee for non-residents.

All of the COVID-19 protocols Orleans will follow are listed online, though the town’s recreation director, Alan Harrison, was quick to point out that the town is still taking the pandemic seriously.

“We are still very much aware of and concerned about COVID,” Harrison said. “We’re taking all of the precautions that are state-regulated and local board of health regulated. Masks are still required — that could change — but right now they’re required.

“An effort is made to social distance as much as possible and we’re still doing excessive cleaning. Even though we’re sort of getting back to the normal routine, we’re still adhering to the COVID regulations.”

In Chatham, the reality of COVID-19 will be seen in the numbers. Stark said the town’s programs have been cut by more than 50 percent.

“It’s a lot smaller this year,” she said. “We would’ve had 200 kids here each day for the morning program, but we’re going down to 80 this summer. We previously included kindergartners, but we don’t have enough room this year. So, we dropped kindergarten, but Monomoy Community Services is servicing kindergartners for a full-day option.” A limited tennis program will also be offered.

Chatham’s summer rec program will take place from 8 a.m. to noon and will be open to any children who have just completed first through eighth grade. The town will offer a separate afternoon program from 1 to 4:30 p.m. for kids that have just finished fourth through eighth grade. Both programs are set to run from June 28 until Aug. 13, with no program on July 5.

There is a $175 registration fee for residents interested in the summer recreation program and a $262 fee for nonresidents.

Registration for both Chatham programs will open to town residents at 8 a.m. May 3. Any remaining spots will be listed online at 8 a.m. May 17. All registration must be completed online at chathamcommunitycenter.com.

Like Chatham and Orleans, Harwich’s summer program is also going to be scaled back due to COVID-19.

“Typically, we have a camp and have about 90 to 100 kids in it,” Harwich recreation director Eric Beebe said. “This year, we’re bringing the camp back but we’re just going to do 40 to 50 kids. We’re really trying to prioritize for the town of Harwich working parents first, for the people that really need somewhere for their kids to go when they are at work.”

Beebe said information about Harwich’s summer programs, which are designed for children ages 6 through 12, has already been distributed to parents of students who are currently utilizing the town’s afterschool program.

“We put out the information for them for the month of April,” Beebe said. “Come May 1, we’ll put out the information to the general public and it will be on the town recreational website.”

Beebe noted Harwich is bringing back tennis lessons but will not be offering swim lessons this summer.

“It’s too hard to practice distancing and mask-wearing during that program,” he said.

Visit www.Harwich-ma.gov beginning May 1 for more information about Harwich’s summer recreation program.

Email Brad Joyal at brad@capecodchronicle.com