(June 12, 2020) Summer is here and the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department will still be offering activities for children and adults, albeit with some limitations due to covid-19.
The department, located at Northside Park on 125th Street, reopened its lobby for registrations and other business transactions last Monday and announced that while it could not offer indoor activities at this time, there would be limited outdoor games and events.
“We’re still trying to navigate these waters,” Director Susan Petito said. “But, we are moving forward with plans to run as many of our summer camps this summer. We’re working with our camp directors and we’re trying to find ways to modify what it is that we offer so that we can maintain the safety of our participants and our staff, while still offering some sort of wonderful and fun experiences for our residents and our visitors.”
Several camps that incorporate contact with one another have been either postponed or canceled for the season.
For instance, Lego camp is canceled, as is boys’ lacrosse, field hockey and ballerina camp. Non-contact or limited-contact activities like kayaking, fishing, golfing, dance, estuary and pickleball camps are still expected to take place this summer, with a restriction in numbers.
“Right now, we are planning a modified schedule of summer camps,” Recreation Supervisor Kate Gaddis said. “Everything is kind of just waiting on direction from the governor.”
Some directors have already informed the department that they would be unable to participate in activities this year as well, whether as a result of the pandemic or for other reasons.
“We are trying to find some new directors, which will modify the hours and the times of camp,” Gaddis said.
According to Petito, the department has been working around the clock adjusting camp schedules in order to accommodate the restrictions set by the governor.
“We’re hoping that by the time Camp Horizons’ start date rolls around – which right now we’re still shooting for June 22 – then we’ll have to see where we are at that point in time and whether or not we’ll be able to do anything indoors or not,” she said.
Other changes will be taking place this summer as well.
Scamper Camp, a program for children ages 3-5 years old, has been canceled this year, and Camp Horizon for children ages 5-12, will not be held at Ocean City Elementary School as it has in the past. It will take place outside at Northside Park.
As of this week, 985 kids have registered for camp — this time last year, 1,700 had registered. Several sessions are planned to accommodate the number of registered campers.
Each camp offered by the recreation department will only be permitted, as of now, to have 10 members, which includes the instructor. There will also not be any field trips this summer, Gaddis said.
Registration can be done over the phone by calling 410-250-0125 or in person at the Northside Park facility on 125th Street. Masks are required when entering the building.
Another restriction for this year is who can participate in camp. Per Gov. Larry Hogan’s regulations, only Maryland residents can sign up for camps.
“The bottom line is we just want kids to have a fun summer, and so we’re trying hard to find a way that they can do that in the best possible way from a healthy perspective,” she added.
There are also some concerns about the future for summertime favorite events hosted by the recreation department such as Sundaes in the Park, Family Beach Olympics, Movies on the Beach and Beach Fireworks.
“As far as some of the programming that we’ve done … that is still a little bit up in the air based upon gathering numbers like our Movies on the Beach and our Family Beach Olympics, we feel like we can do those things in some way,” Petito said. “We’ll just modify the games that we play for the families and ensure that the families can work together in a group that’s far enough apart from another family.”
This means that activities like sand castle building will still be a part of the games, but tug-of-war will be retired for this season.
Since Sundaes in the Park, Beach Fireworks and Movies on the Beach are scheduled to happen later this month, Petito hopes that by the time the events roll around, restrictions will have lessened.
“All of the events are still up in the air,” she said. “I will say that the health department has been very good to us. Most of our activities ... the governor’s order right now says that these types of activities, we need to be interacting with our local health department for interaction because every community is a little bit different.
“Starting last week, we have a weekly call with our health department to assess what’s happened in the course of the week and what direction can we move in and what are our restrictions,” Petito continued.
For instance, early last week, the Worcester County Health Department gave the resort approval to reopen the Ocean Bowl Skate Park on Third Street and St. Louis Ave. It will grant access to annual passholders.
Maryland’s Roadmap to Recovery plan will allow 10 passholders in the park at one time with one-hour skating limits to enable accommodation of more skaters each day. Hours for the skate park will be 12-6 p.m.
Even though several activities are still up in the air or have been canceled, Petito reminds the public that there are also several virtual events available.
“We are continuing to offer virtual programming,” she said. “If there are still some people who are uncomfortable about coming out and they’re still vulnerable, we do have some virtual recreation programming that they can enjoy online.”
These activities can be found on the town’s website at https://oceancitymd.gov/oc/departments/recreation-parks/virtual-ocean-city-recreation/#1588352797155-49a68740-f247.
Activities range from fitness like dancing and stretching exercises, healthy living pointers, gardening, dog training, crafts and sports clinics.
For more information, call Northside Park at 410-250-0125 or visit https://oceancitymd.gov/oc/departments/recreation-parks/.
In addition to physical exercise activities, the town is also offering an old classic to replace theaters; a drive-in movie experience at the convention center on 40th Street.
“We’ve been talking about a drive-in movie experience for a number of years,” Town of Ocean City Special Events Superintendent Frank Miller said. “It was only a concept that was being discussed, but given where we are with covid-19 and the recovery process, the drive-in movies, which have been included in the order allowed by the governor, allowed us to take this concept and rush it through the system and the process of planning and to start this coming Monday.”
The movies will be screened on a 27-foot-tall by 15-foot-wide LED wall. Watchers will be able to listen to the movie through a special FM channel on the radio or stereo system.
The town will offer the event every Monday at 8 p.m. starting June 15 until Aug. 31. The town is also considering holding movies on Tuesdays as well.
“We’re also looking to add a second day,” Miller said. “The movie list that we chose for Monday is very family friendly and it’s very kid oriented. We’ve had some request to try to do movies that are beyond that level of that genre in that age group. We will venture into the P.G, potentially P.G. 13 genre, as long as they’re still family friendly.”
The town will also hold an independent film festival once a month, which is sponsored by the Ocean City Film Festival and the Art League of Ocean City. The first one will be held Tuesday, June 16.
Miller said he is looking into options that will allow movie goers to purchase snacks on site, but has to wait for approval from the Worcester County Health Department.
“We’re running movies that are made for young families with children,” Miller said. “I know there’s a lot of people right now that are just looking for opportunities and things to do. We don’t have events really happening in the area because of limitations by the governor’s order. So here’s an opportunity to get out of the house with your kids, grab some food, come over to the convention center parking lot, sit and watch the movie.”
Miller warns that movie watchers should check their car batteries before they arrive to avoid overusing the motors for lights, air conditioning or charging their phones.
In addition, Miller said the drive-in theater experiences can only be viewed from inside a vehicle.
“The health department is still mandating that they don’t want to see gatherings over 10 people outside the car,” he said. “That way we keep this this within the regulation of the health department and the state governor’s order.”
For more information, visit https://ococean.com/events.
Movies on Mondays* (8 p.m.)
June 15 – “Emoji Movie”
June 22 – “The Lego Movie”
June 29 – “Zootopia”
July 6 – “Christopher Robin”
July 13 – “Toy Story 4”
July 20 – “Dolittle”
July 27 – “Playing with Fire”
Aug. 3 – “Moana”
Aug. 10 – “Finding Dory”
Aug. 17 – “Smallfoot”
Aug. 24 – “Sonic the Hedgehog”
Aug. 31 – “Dora and the Lost City of Gold”
* More times and dates to be added in the future