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Filled with smiles: City notes near record participation for summer camp

Pictured are the children and counselors from the final week of the program at Camp Gross.

Heading into its 30th year, the city of Dunkirk saw a huge success its summer camp program.

Held each year at Camp Gross, 300 campers over a five-week period enjoy various activities with their peers and counselors. This year was special to the city as it was with other events that were postponed due to COVID.

“We didn’t have a camp last summer,” Youth and Rec Director Ryan Hall told the OBSERVER. “We were only supposed to have three weeks due to the restriction in New York state, as time went on, however, we went to our full five weeks.”

Originally planned to host only 35 kids a week, the lifting of rules in the state allowed the city to go back to its normal number of 60 kids as well. This, mixed with the loss of events in 2020, led to a large demand for the camp.

“The demand was so high we had a waiting list each week,” Hall noted. “We had close to 300 campers altogether in the five weeks with waiting lists of 10 to 15 kids each week. What the kids have gone through this whole year, just being able to socialize with their friends without the restrictions was great for them. They could just enjoy being a kid again and I think that was one of the main factors. Our camp is really special and the kids love it up there.”

New activities for the camp included a tug-of-war rope and the creation of their own tye-dye shirts; Hall said he tries to come up with something new every year.

All of this, he added, would not have been possible without the crew of counselors the city had this year.

“I do want to thank the counselors that we had, half of them were new this year and I do think this was the best year in the five that I’ve been there,” Hall said. “They did an unbelievable job. They made the kids’ days and experiences even better.”

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