Hoboken Recreation 'Working On Options' For Summer 2020

Caren Lissner

HOBOKEN — Last year, frantic Hoboken residents set up a GoFundMe page to keep alive a summer camp for low-income kids that was about to shut down suddenly. According to posts that appeared on social media last July, the closure of the camp, which had been organized by a private resident, was about to leave working low-income parents without a place to send their kids for a few weeks.

For several years, particularly since the closure of the YMCA 10 years ago, parents in Hoboken have complained about the lack of low-cost camp options to serve Hoboken's population of 53,000, or even short drop-off Recreation Department options in summer. Nearby towns such as Bayonne and North Bergen run part-day weekly drop-off programs with activities such as chess and games, besides organized sports.

Hoboken contains private camps, camps run by schools and day cares, and two full-time camp programs for low-income kids: Day Care 100 summer camp, and a summer camp run by the Boys and Girls' Club.

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Some, however, feel those aren't enough options for the town.

When he was running for office in 2017, Mayor Ravi Bhalla promised in an ad that he'd provide more summer camp options.

Early this year, the Hoboken school district expanded its affordable summer LEAP enrichment program from four to eight weeks, but canceled it in May due to coronavirus restrictions and school preparations.

Last week, Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a daily update that the city had re-started some of the Recreation Department's athletic options, including Little League practices, with coronavirus safety measures in place.

"We continue to evaluate ways to resume recreation options for children in a socially distanced, non-contact manner," he wrote. "Last week, we resumed Little League baseball drills and practices."

Bhalla also said the school district would be holding short fitness sessions for students, for which parents must be present. They can sign up here. Many of the options filled up quickly, but more were added.

On May 30, when Gov. Phil Murphy allowed day cares and organized sports to resume, under certain guidelines, he gave the OK to youth camp programs in town.

Last year, while Hoboken did not offer a summer camp or weeklong programs, they offered two non-sports options that were low cost: the popular Art in the Park for toddlers, and a weekly improv camp for older kids.

This week, the mayor's spokesman was asked if some of those options or similar options would return, either virtually or in person.

He responded, "We are working on options. I know some recreation is returning. Art in the Park is canceled due to social distancing issues with little children. We will keep folks updated as we’re looking into various options."

New York City discussed providing free summer camp to all students last year.

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This article originally appeared on the Hoboken Patch

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