Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 07-09-2020

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | JULY 9-15, 2020 NORTH SMITHFIELD 3 NORTH SMITHFIELD – It's Thursday morning at Camp Phoenix, and the day is just getting started. As the campers gather behind North Smithfield Elementary School for their mid-morning snack, Camp Director Matt Tek cues up the sound system, one of his many duties as director of the town-run day camp. Every song is matched to a counsel- or, and the counselors join the stage as the songs blast through the speak- ers, leading the campers in made-up dances. The kids love it, jumping and stomping to dance remixes of "MMMBop" and "Crazy Train" as they work off the sugar from their fruit snacks and Capri Suns. Here in the woods of Camp Phoenix, it's easy to forget there's a pandemic going on outside, and the masks worn by the counselors aren't simply a prop for some themed camp skit. Then a camper breaks free of their group to dance by the stage, and the illusion is quickly shattered. A counselor calls them back, remind- ing them they're not allowed to leave their group of 15, one of many new rules that comes with COVID-19. When the virus first closed schools in March, Tek said camp administra- tors weren't sure they'd be able to open this summer. With each new restriction, it looked less and less likely Camp Phoenix would return for its 15th season. Then Gov. Gina Raimondo announced in May that summer camps would be able to open in June, and the camp sent out a survey to gauge parents' interest. Within 24 hours, they had 110 responses. "When we got down to it at the end of the day, it was more about the fact that these kids needed some socialization," said Tek. After three months away from teachers and friends, kids were eager to return to camp. For camp staff, the experience was equally fulfilling. As cars lined up in the NSES parking lot on June 29, the first day of a delayed, seven-week camp season, nervous- ness quickly turned to excitement as campers reunited with their former counselors. "I completely loved the first day," said Casey Mitchell, program direc- tor. "Some of them were just so excit- ed to see us again. Some of them, it's just been so long since they've seen other kids." What started as a strange daily ritual – temperature checks in the parking lot before campers wave goodbye to mom and dad – has grad- ually become more routine as the days go on. In past years, campers were grouped in large cohorts by age and were allowed to choose which activities they wanted to participate in. This year, they're placed in small groups that travel the camp as a unit, following one-way arrows similar to those in grocery stores. The arrange- ment means less freedom to choose activities but more opportunity to bond with counselors and other campers. The biggest difference, said Tek, is in the numbers. This year, 107 camp- ers registered, compared with more than 200 last year. That could be due in part to the new restrictions around camp registration. In past years, par- ents were allowed to sign their chil- dren up for a week or a day, boosting the numbers in certain weeks, but with state policy mandating that camp groups remain stable, with no new campers joining over the sum- mer, families were required to com- mit for the whole season. It was an unpopular policy for some families, but one that Tek said was designed to keep campers safe. Even with the changes, the camp day feels surprisingly normal. Sports continue on the field, and arts and crafts supplies are packaged in indi- vidual containers so groups don't have to share them. Dance parties are frequent, as are scraped knees and all the minor cuts and bruises that come with a day at camp. Masks are required for counselors; for campers, they're optional. Everybody uses hand sanitizer a lot. "To be able to give them some sense of normalcy, we know it's At Camp Phoenix, summer lives on despite COVID-19 By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer lauren@valleybreeze.com BREEZE PHOTO BY LAUREN CLEM COVID-19 can't stop AANYA JAIN, left, AUBREE GARZA, center, and VICTORIA ANTONIO from enjoying summer camp. See CAMP, Page 32 Greenville Road to close this weekend for bridge demolition NORTH SMITHFIELD – The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has announced that Greenville Road, also known as Farnum Pike or Route 104, will close this weekend to accommodate demolition of the Farnum Pike Bridge. Route 104 at the bridge will close from 3 a.m. on Saturday, July 11, to 6 a.m. on Sunday, July 12. Local detour signs will be posted. RIDOT will also install a lane split on Route 146 North beginning this Friday, July 10. Travel lanes on Route 146 will be shifted and nar- rowed with one lane open on each side of the split. Drivers should reduce speed but should not stop or suddenly change lanes at the split. Exit 11, which accesses Route 104 from Route 146 North, will be closed until November. Signage will be posted for drivers to use Exit 10 (Route 146A) instead. The lane split will be in place until the fall, when a similar lane split will be installed on Route 146 South. The bridge work is part of a $13.9 million project to replace the Farnum Pike Bridge, which carries Route 146 over Route 104. The bridge was built in 1958 and has been rated structurally deficient for more than 20 years. The bridge car- ries approximately 40,000 vehicles per day. The project is scheduled to be complete in summer 2022. 4 WHEEL ALIGNMENT Starting at $ 89.95 RI State Inspection $55 WE'RE OPEN FOR ALL YOUR SERVICE NEEDS 36 BLACKSTONE STREET WOONSOCKET 401-766-3270 WWW.TERRYAUTOLTD.COM Gil & Meika WE BUY CARS NOW CARRYING… Falken Tires! FREE 2 Year Road Hazard Warranty. 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