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County parks and rec cancels summer day camp, closes water parks due to Covid 19

Photo by Bryan Mitchell. A scene from  Rolling Hills Water Park.

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Coy Vaughn for the information in this story.)

The Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission (WCPARC) has canceled summer day camp programs at Rolling Hills, Independence Lake, the Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center and the Ypsilanti-based Playground Camp for the 2020 season.

In addition, Rolling Hills Water Park at Rolling Hills County Park and Blue Heron Bay Spray Park at Independence Lake County Park, also operated by Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission, will be closed for the summer.

Staff explored every possible way to run camp safely and effectively before making this tough decision. However, with the spread of COVID-19 health and wellness must be the top priority.

“We look forward to summer camp as much as our campers, but our priority is protecting the health and safety of everyone in our local communities,” said Rhonda Bouma, park superintendent at Rolling Hills County Park, in a press release.

Those who have already registered for the camps will receive a full refund or credit for the 2021 season.

Washtenaw County Parks staff are currently working on developing virtual programs and resources for campers. They anticipate the launch of some of these programs and resources by June 15 and will be offering opportunities to engage with camp curriculum throughout the summer.

Blue Heron Bay Spray Park was set to close for the 2020 season due to infrastructure issues and much needed repairs, and the decision was made in April to close for the season.

Social distancing cannot be achieved by swimmers in a wave pool or other water attractions, according to Bouma, who made this decision with input from both staff and the Washtenaw County Health Department.

Water attractions like the wave pool and lazy river at Rolling Hills Water Park, are popular with swimmers who lounge on inflatable tubes in close proximity to one another while the currents and wave action make it impossible to maintain proper social distancing.

“This would have been our 30th season of operation, and we always look forward to summer season. It was an extremely difficult decision to make, but it was the right one to help keep our community members safe,” Bouma said.

In addition, following the Governor’s Executive Order, the beach at Independence Lake County Park is closed. Fortunately, “with a glimmer of good news, we’re happy to announce our plans to open the beach at Independence Lake Park on June 5,” said Brian Machemer, superintendent at Independence Lake County Park in a press release.  “We will be operating the park at a reduced capacity following recommended guidelines and social distancing measures,” he said.

Staff look forward to opening Rolling Hills Water Park and Blue Heron Bay Spray Park in 2021.

Photo by Bryan Mitchell. Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation day camp scene.
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