MORGAN COUNTY, Ala — With Summer back in full swing, a day camp in Morgan County is experiencing a record turnout this year. The high enrollment at Pine Ridge Day Camp follows a year of financial hurdles, and a shutdown last summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To have 650 individual kids be able to experience camp, especially after a year with COVID has been amazing,” said Pine Ridge camp director Kelie Cook. Cook says before COVID-19 hit, the camp enrolled around 400 campers. This year Cook has had to create a waitlist for parents.
“I think part of it was the pandemic, and wanting kids to have an experience. We’re really fortunate. We have 120 acres here at Pine Ridge and we are pretty much outside the entire day,” said Cook.
The outdoor environment has also made it easier for the camp to enforce COVID-19 safety protocols, including mask-wearing when campers or staff are indoors or riding a bus.
“We’re eating lunch outside, we’re primarily outside in everything, so we can continue with Covid precautions, but kids still get to have a camp experience,” said Cook
From rock climbing to horseback riding and swimming, summer camp is an experience Cook says was sorely missed by many of her campers just 12 months ago.
“I’ve been getting phone calls and emails about just how much fun their kids are having this Summer, how grateful they are that we’re open, and just to really be able to enjoy being kids,” said Cook.
Right now Pine Ridge says it has around 50 campers on its waitlist, but it’s urging parents to keep checking in, because they say new openings do come up, based on age. Pine Ridge day camp says it’s also still accepting applications from staffers in hopes of expanding its enrollment this season.