Wilton summer camp is different but still fun

WILTON — It’s different, but it’s still summer camp.

The summer camp season opened Monday at what are usually two of Wilton’s biggest camps — the town-sponsored Camp Looper and Cool Tots — and the Wilton Family Y’s Camp Gordyland. Next Monday, Woodcock Nature Center opens its camp. Ambler Farm, Wilton’s other big camp, is not running this year.

Although both Camp Looper and Camp Gordyland have reduced their enrollments, those maximums have not been met.

Camp Looper/Cool Tots has room for 80 children entering kindergarten through eighth grade for its eight-week session, but only 30 are attending this first week. The camp usually attracts hundreds.

Likewise Camp Gordyland, which usually signs up 300 to 400 children a week, has capped attendance at 100 for the next eight weeks.

Both camps are following state guidelines and limiting groups to 10 children each at the Y and eight at Camp Looper/Cool Tots. They have capped overall attendance based on the size of their facility.

“If it’s raining, each group needs to go to its own room,” the Y’s Director of Development Christene Freedman said, explaining they have 10 rooms available for such a situation. She said some future weeks are almost full.

Campers at Camp Gordyland will be able to go swimming, as they did in the 80-degree weather on Monday, as well as canoe on the pond, and test their archery and mini-golf skills. There is no extended-day offering as camp runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Jim Lewicki, program director at Wilton Parks and Recreation, thinks people may just be getting an idea of what’s going on regarding camp.

Cool Tots for children 3 to 6 years old runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Camp Looper, for older children, runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. A nurse is on staff all day.

With their counselors, each group of children will be an independent pod, not allowed to interact with any other.

“I’ve told my counselors this is your family for the week,” Lewicki said. Counselors are required to wear masks, and children may wear them but are not required to.

“Everything is happening here,” Lewicki said. “There’s no Merwin Meadows, no Splash Down, no Lake Compounce, no inflatables. We can’t use the playground, which is brutal.”

In their place, there will be sprinklers, Ice Cream Emergency (ice cream truck) once a week and pizza once a week. There will also be those camp stand-bys of sports, games and arts and crafts.

On Monday, one group of third and fourth graders were engaged in an energetic game of noodle hockey, swatting a ball with pool noodles. The camp’s counselors expect there will be more of that as well as other field-day-type activities such as relay races, bean bag toss, soccer and basketball shooting and kickball.

Noting that guidelines are changing frequently, Lewicki is hoping things loosen up later in the season.

Administration Manager Kregg Zulkeski noted, “We’re running this as a public service. We’re here to have fun. We’re trying to make it feel as normal as possible.”

To sign up for Camp Looper/Cool Tots, visit the parks and recreation page at wiltonct.org.

Camp Gordyland information is at wiltonymca.org.


Woodcock nature Center has canceled its camp programs for its youngest enthusiasts, pre-K through second grade, but is still offering weekly registrations for third through eighth graders. The camp day will run from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in one-week sessions from June 29 through Aug. 21.

Camp will be limited to 30 children per week, far less than the 90 or so that usually sign up, Executive Director Lenore Herbst said. They will be assigned groups of 10 that will not interact with one another.

“We’ve had to make a lot of changes with the protocol, so we are having far less children on site,” she said. “We felt it would be easier to manage all the protocols with older campers.

“It’s a big difference for us and revenues are a third of what we were anticipating,” she said.

Even though campers will be spread out they are trying to keep some of the hallmarks of nature camp including wading in the pond and canoeing on the pond, scooping various creatures up with their nets. They will still have encounters with the resident animals, sanitizing their hands after handling them as they always do.

Woodcock has invested in more equipment so campers can be assigned their own equipment for the week, Herbst said.

“Whatever we can’t provide individually will be disinfected between kids’ using them,” she said. Staff will wear masks at all times, and campers will be encouraged to bring and wear masks, but not required to do so.

Herbst said the camp has almost completely eliminated indoor time by renting an additional tent so each group will have an outdoor home base, going inside only to use the bathroom.

“Being with others and interacting with one another is part of camp and part of the fun, so that will be different,” she said.

Sign-ups have been strong with opening week full and a few spots left throughout the summer. For information, visit woodcocknaturecenter.org.