Students prepare for another uncertain summer due to COVID-19


Photo Courtesy of Tova Niles

Tova Niles sits on the bus with a friend on the way to sleep away camp. She had attended for five summers in a row before it being cancelled last year.

By Rachel Mattison, Assistant Advertising & Subscriptions Manager

Camps closed, travel halted, internships canceled and jobs difficult to find–the scene of summer 2020 looked significantly different than anyone could have imagined. Many plans for summer 2020 were put in place before the pandemic began, or right at the beginning when it was unfathomable that COVID-19 would last through the summer. While most students did not end up having the summer they had intended on, they made it through by finding new ways to spend their time off of school. 

Winter and early spring are often the times when students start to think about their plans for the upcoming summer. There are many activities students can choose to do over their break; some being sleep away camps or jobs, but planning in advance is required. The issue that many are running into is no one knows when life will begin to return to normal. With the vaccine rollout beginning, as well as safety compliance lowering, it looks to many as though we could have a normal summer. 

After having to cancel last summer, sleep away camps are putting all of their time and resources into ensuring they can open this summer for campers. 

“We do not know what the world will look like, and our operations may look a little different than ‘normal’ but I can assure you that by following protocols and safety measures us, along with many other camps, will successfully open this summer for our campers,” Jed Dorfman, the owner of Camp Walt Whitman, said.

With much more time and research to prepare for a summer that will involve COVID-19, most camps are also sending similar messages that they are ready to open. Campers are longing to return to what many of them deem their “second home” after a summer away, but it does not come without some hesitation. 

“I signed up for camp in September because I am really hoping that it opens,” freshman Tova Niles said. “Currently my camp is planning to run, but we will have to quarantine and get tested beforehand and then stay with just our cabin when we get there. Although I am super excited, I am tentative to get my hopes up because COVID-19 could become worse and then camp could close again.”

Making plans to travel is much harder than it used to be and causes more uncertainty than before because of ever-changing restrictions. Traveling involves visiting a place where COVID-19 statistics could look different than where you are from, including combining interaction with people whose travel history is not clear. Having to be in an airplane and hotel with strangers makes many apprehensive. This all makes travel difficult and threatens to end the summers spent exploring new places and relaxing that WCHS students have enjoyed in the past.

“Every year I have gone to St. John for a week with my extended family. We make a lot of memories and it is always my favorite weeks of the year,” sophomore Nishu Shah said. “Both of my parents are doctors and are being extra cautious so I don’t think that they will deem it safe enough to go, although we did purchase refundable plane tickets. It is a weird time to plan a vacation because I am excited to have something to look forward to, but we also are buying only refundable things and I am keeping expectations of going low.”

Because of the absence of school and other responsibilities, students find that summer is a great time to get jobs. Last summer, because of businesses and local camps being closed, as well as students wanting to limit interactions because of health concerns, many were not able to work. Although the pandemic continues, the hope of those businesses is to remain open and the hope of high school students is to find jobs and make some money over the summer.

“I had planned to work at an outdoor adventure day camp last summer but it closed and therefore I obviously couldn’t,” sophomore Joshua Heimlich said. “Instead I hung out with friends and went biking a lot. This summer my hope is to work at a bike shop but it is not confirmed yet because since it is not a big space they do not know how many people they are going to be comfortable employing. It is a weird time to be finding a job because the reasons many aren’t getting them are out of anyone’s control.”

This whole year with COVID-19 impacting lives has been considered unprecedented and having to plan for this upcoming summer is no different. Whether students are planning to attend sleep away camp, travel, search for a job or anything else, making preparations for an undefined summer is challenging. No matter what their plans are, every student is just hoping that we can start to get back to normal and have an amazing summer.