Summer camps scramble to find new sites as CPS schools stay closed due to the coronavirus

About two dozen Chicago Public Schools buildings opened for summer camps last year.

SHARE Summer camps scramble to find new sites as CPS schools stay closed due to the coronavirus
Students build robots during CPS Summer Engineering Camp last year at Von Steuben Metropolitan Science High School.

Students build robots during CPS Summer Engineering Camp last year at Von Steuben Metropolitan Science High School. All CPS schools are closed this year.

Sun-Times file

As summer camps across the city make plans to open — albeit with smaller numbers due to social distancing — those that rent space at Chicago Public Schools are having to scramble to find new locations.

All public schools remain closed for the summer while school officials try to work out the details of reopening in the fall, a CPS spokeswoman confirmed this week.

“We certainly recognize the challenges they are facing, just as we all are facing challenges,” said Addie Goodman, president and CEO of Apachi Day Camps, which has nine locations, including two on CPS properties.

Goodman said CPS officials informed her in early June that schools would not be available for rent this summer.

Last year, about two dozen CPS schools hosted summer camp programs.

Preparing for the unexpected, Goodman said her organization has been “parallel pathing,” and managed to find alternative locations. The new sites are a bit smaller than the CPS locations — North Side College Prep and Walter Payton High School — but that’s not why Apachi is having to turn away kids. It’s the need for social distancing, Goodman said.

“Even at one of our campuses that is a 10-acre campus, which traditionally welcomes 700 ... our capacity there is half that due to the spacing guidelines,” Goodman said.

Steve & Kate’s Camp, which has locations in nine states, has also previously rented CPS space. The organization could not be reached for comment. But on the company’s website, the exact locations of the Lake View- and West Loop-area camps were listed Tuesday as “TBA.” A separate camp that had been in Lincoln Park was canceled until next year. The site was still taking registrations for camps starting in late July and running through late August.

It was unclear how much revenue CPS is losing from not renting its properties this summer. A spokesman declined to answer.

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