MARBLEHEAD — A camper at the YMCA’s Children’s Island Day Camp has tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the organization to close the camp for deep cleaning Thursday.
The Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA in Marblehead — which runs the day camp on the historic Children’s Island, also known as Cat Island, off Marblehead’s coast — released a statement Thursday saying the organization hopes to reopen the camp on Friday.
According to Alysha Monfette, executive director of marketing and communications for YMCA of the North Shore, staff learned that one of the camper’s parents had contracted COVID-19, isolated the camper from other children, and sent them home pending a COVID-19 test. Then, on Wednesday, camp staff learned the child had tested positive.
“The safety of the campers and staff is always our top priority,” said Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA Executive Director Gerald MacKillop. “Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to close Children’s Island for the day, allowing our facility team to conduct a second thorough deep cleaning of island facilities and we look forward to welcoming our campers and staff back on Friday.”
The YMCA is not identifying the camper, but Monfette said the child is part of the camp’s counselor-in-training program, available for ages 13 through 16. The camper is asymptomatic and feeling well according to their family, Monfette said.
MacKillop said the camp keeps “strict social distancing, cleaning, and sanitation protocols,” including keeping campers and staff in designated groups and routinely cleaning each space after use by a group.
Members of the COVID-19-positive camper’s group were isolated and sent home as soon as the camp learned about the test Wednesday. Also, the Salem Board of Health and state’s Department of Public Health were immediately notified, and the YMCA’s facility team used “electrostatic fogging guns to provide additional sanitation to all camp spaces,” Monfette said.
Moving forward, the camp will keep in contact with local and state health officials and follow their advice, check campers and staff for symptoms each day, and ensure campers and staff are staying in designated groups, wearing masks and washing their hands frequently.
Children’s Island has been the site of a YMCA day camp since being leased by the organization in 1955. The island’s history is much longer, having been a hospital in the 1700s, a place for British ships to anchor and set up blockades during the American Revolution, a hotel in the 1800s, and a children’s sanitarium before YMCA use.