TAMPA, Fla. — Eva Albright’s parents said they’ve done all they could during the pandemic to make sure she still had interaction with other kids.
“Whatever we could through school and summer we got her in front of other children and whatever we felt was the safest possible way just like kids should," said Matt Albright.
The YMCA held summer camps in 2020, but with drastically fewer children. Now, YMCA officials said registration numbers are way up, even more than in 2019, pre-pandemic.
“Parents are ready, kids are ready. They are ready for these exciting activities and do get outdoors a little bit more," said Bart Cape, YMCA Vice President of Operations.
USF Educational psychology professor Darlene DeMarie said the opportunity for children to play and problem-solve with others is needed more than ever.
“In general I think children need opportunities to connect with others and I think the opportunity for expansive play and thinking," said DeMarie.
She said the stresses caused by the pandemic may be hard to gauge in some children. It’s good to include them in the decision-making process of which camp they might like.
“Letting the child have input. That’s an important life skill as well. How do you choose and then what was your choice like? Was it a good choice," said DeMarie.
Experts said COVID-19 has led to increased screen time and heightened anxiety and depression.
Eva’s dad says she’s doing fine and ready for summer fun as restrictions starting to ease up.
“They are encouraged more to socialize whereas last year it was sort of taboo to do that. And it was kind of how close can they be? And the nature of being of a child is they want that physical interaction," said Albright.
YMCA officials say they are planning on continuing COVID-19 safety guidelines, but will adjust as the CDC recommendations continue to change.