• Ettie Zaklos

Successful Summer Camp!

This summer we feel very blessed to have been able to conduct a full six-weeks of summer camp for 100 children. Summer of the Arts 2020 was an experience like no other with various modifications and enhancements to ensure that our community stayed safe and healthy amidst the COVID pandemic.

We feel so blessed to have been able to offer our precious young children a reprieve from the many changes that suddenly upended their lives. Through all the chaos and the day to day crises going on every front, our SOTA campus acted as an oasis of joy, fun, love and, yes, even normalcy during these challenging times. With sparkling eyes and smiles hidden behind masks, our teachers poured their love, care and affection into each and every child. From temperature check in the morning to that last handwashing routine of the day – and the many, many fun activities and specials in between – our incredible teachers and staff met the children with warmth and offered them the unique joys of summer fun.

All summer long we explored the theme of “Community Helpers” meeting various heroes who contribute to our lives from their work on the frontlines, whether that be at the grocery store or the post office, to heroes who face danger to keep us safe, like doctors, firefighters and police officers. Each individual class became a learning pod, a community of learners and friends that explored the world through art, music, STEM activities, and games.

It was amazing to witness how the children responded to returning to school after three months at home. They were like fish back in water! They accepted every new change at face value and were so thrilled to be back with their friends and teachers again. Children who had regressed at home, blossomed once more. Children who were doing just okay during the lockdown started to thrive. Parents told us that their children waited by the front door each morning with their bags waiting to go to camp. Seeing the children’s overwhelming joy and excitement every day of camp was a consistent reminder that we were doing the right thing in opening for our families. Our team invested a tremendous amount of time and resources into educating our staff and community on preventing the spread of COVID. Despite our summer camp coinciding with some of the toughest weeks of COVID here in Naples, our health guidelines proved effective at preventing spread and children were able to fully benefit from our program.

The trust, support and cooperation of our dear families was essential to our success this summer. As a parent, I know that there is nothing more precious than your children, and the fact that our families believed in our camp and entrusted their treasures into our care is not something we take for granted. That trust is sacred. I look back and feel incredibly proud that we were able to pull this off. It took enormous effort to reopen our doors safely, but it is all worth it to see the joyful results. I hope one day our children will look back at this crazy time and that their formative memories be those of warmth, security and love.

Riding on the success of our summer camp, we feel optimistic as we look to opening in the Fall. We have made dozens of enhancements in classroom protocols, campus hygiene and community conduct that will maximize learning and minimize risk. Going into the new school year, our goal is to create a safe environment full of love and joy. With new health practices, we will focus on connections and provide structure for children and families as we continue to focus on developmental and academic growth. To learn more about our program call (239) 263-2620 or visit www.naplespreschoolofthearts.com.

Above all, know that we are all in this together. No matter what, the Preschool of the Arts family will be here for our community.

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