Camp Haccamo welcomes back campers

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RUSH, N.Y. (WHEC) — It’s a 65-year tradition for the rotary clubs of Monroe County. Monday, Camp Haccamo, which hosts children with special needs, welcomed back its campers after shutting its doors due to the pandemic.

“A lot of our campers are returning campers. We’ve become a really big family and everybody just really enjoys everybody else. The campers they miss their friends,” said Executive Director Dolly Kujawa.

Kujawa says it was a race to ensure the summer tradition of bringing smiles and activities to the special needs campers runs smoothly, especially after getting short notice from the state.

‘We’re really excited that we can have any campers here this year. We didn’t find out from the health department until the first week of June,” Kujawa said.

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Though a smaller size this year with only 40 campers and a ratio of one counselor per camper, kids are able to enjoy the great outdoors in a welcoming and safe manner with some new COVID-19 protocols.

‘We are not letting everybody handle things so everybody has their own box of crayons for crafts and masking if they’re inside is recommended,” Kujawa said.

Camp counselor Ian Bankes has spent six summers working with the Rochester area kids.

“I just keep coming back every year because this is one of the most awesome places in the world to me,” Bankes said.

Bankes lost two things from the pandemic: his summer job and a year’s worth of memories with friends and campers, but he says this year will be very special at camp.

“I think that the people who are here are very grateful that they have this opportunity to come back and see all their friends and campers, so I think it’s going to be a really enthusiastic year,” Bankes said.

Staff are not the only ones who are grateful. Parents feel the same sentiment.

“For our kids to have a typical summer experience, to get outside, see other children after being on a screen seeing their friends through Zoom for so long… the idea of them actually playing sports and go swimming is so awesome,” said Teresa Conner, who has two kids enrolled in the camp.