“The kids are running around, they’re just happy to be outside,” said Oscar Rodriquez, who had been in charge of the YMCA sports program in Mid-Valley, but with the program on hiatus because of Covid-19, he came back to work with Palisades YMCA Executive Director Jim Kirtley.
The kids’ exuberance and enthusiasm at being outside and playing was heartening.
Circling the News had stopped by to watch an art project that resident Cindy Simon was doing with the kids.
Parents are not allowed in the large park at the corner of Sunset and Temescal Canyon Road because of Covid-19 restrictions. At the table by the gate, all campers have their temperature taken before entering, masks are required, and parents have to answer questions such as “Has anyone been ill? Do you know anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19 or has been out of the country the past 14 days?”
The kids are then allowed in, and join a group that closely mirrors their age, and most likely is the same group that they have been with during the week.
A little guy was walking with Kirtley because, “I lost my mask,” said the three-year-old. He was instantly given a replacement.
Kirtley told CTN that campers generally bring their own masks, but if they lose one or forget one, the Y is happy to replace it.
The 3- to 5-year-old group was the first to paint plastic bottles. Simon allowed the kids to choose their own colors and said that they would put plants in them on another day—to create a kind of terrarium.
After painting several colors on the plastic, one child sighed and Simon was instantly empathetic, saying “It takes longer to paint a big bottle, doesn’t it?”
Another child painted the bottle only red. Simon asked, “Are you done? Do you want to put on other colors?”
The child replied clearly, “No, I’m done.”
Indirectly the children were being taught an environmental lesson: how to upcycle plastic.
After painting bottles, Simon gave the kids “flowers,” plastic pieces that had been cut into petals.
“I made a helicopter,” one four-year-old told her. The younger kids, surprisingly, were great about keeping on their masks – as they painted flowers and “helicopters” and whatever else their imagination saw as they painted.
Aris Tombros, a counselor in training (CIT), was also helping the kids. He had started in the teen training camp (last year) and was offered this internship, which is available for 13- to 17-year-old students.
The “flowers” will be part of an art landscape at Winding Way, a garden nook that has been carved out under the oak trees alongside Simon Meadow.
While the younger ones were painting, an older group was running and playing “thunderclap” on the meadow. The game is like tag with two people “it” and using long pool noodles to tag the others. “It [noodles] helps to keep social distancing,” Kirtley said. (The foam cylinders are about 6 ft. long and about three inches wide and generally used in swimming pools.)
The camp is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and camp activities run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, through August 14. The camp does not include field trips, bus trips, swimming lessons or beach visits. There are still some spots open, visit: (https://www.ymcala.org/metro/classes/day-camp or https://www.activekids.com/pacific-palisades-ca/classes/palisades-malibu-simon-meadow-summer-day-camp-age-3-12-2020?int=72-3-A1)