Peoria Park District cancels summer camps through July 3

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria Park District has canceled summer camps through July 3 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At least 225 kids will not be able to attend Peoria Park District summer camps until at least July 6. If you already signed up, you’ll be getting your money back soon.

“Staff will become issuing refunds for all cancelled weeks of summer camp programming later today, all will process within 7-10 days,” said Peoria Park District Executive Director Emily Cahill.

The district’s budget relies on $14 million of fees and charges that won’t be seen this year.

Cahill says the loss in revenue is also causing district leaders to cut back on staffing.

“We have about 450 part-time staffers on our team by this point of the year that we miss everyday,” Cahill said.

Along with that, Cahill says 30 staffers were put on temporary furloughs since mid-April.

Starting next week, 13 full-time employees will get their jobs back, and an additional seven will start working but with reduced hours.

“We are certainly waiting to hear about the regional plan the mayor is putting forth.
We have been spending a lot of time with Monica Hendrickson with the Peoria City/County Health Department, and we appreciate her guidance as we look at our strategies,” Cahill said.

Park district leaders announced the decision on Tuesday morning.

“Given the challenges we are facing, we thought it prudent to clearly share the District’s philosophy for summer programming and clarify the reasoning that drives our decision-making process that impacts everyone in our Park District family, from our users to our valued employees,” President Robert Johnson said.

In a guide that labels the status of summer activities under “NO,” “MAYBE,” or “YES,” July summer camps are under “MAYBE” and leaders cited the need for local families to access summer camps as childcare for older children and concerns for their safety if a camper or staffer got sick. The park district said safety concerns include maintaining social distancing and cleaning protocols.

“We know that kids and families look forward to camp each summer… and we do, too,” Executive Director Emily Cahill said. “Our decision came down to our commitment to ensuring the safety and quality of experience for EVERY camper at each of our locations and we just couldn’t find a path that met that promise.”

The park district will evaluate its ability to offer summer day camps beginning on July 6 as health indicators and guidance from experts evolve.

Additionally, the Peoria Zoo, splash pads, playgrounds, the RiverPlex Recreation and Wellness Center, and other community recreation centers are listed under “MAYBE” opening this summer.

Parks and trails and golf will continue to operate throughout the summer and the park district will also work on capital projects.

Staff will issue refunds for all canceled weeks of summer camp programming within 7-10 days of notice. If families want to cancel camp reservations beyond July 3, they should contact the Peoria Park District at to process additional refunds.

For the district’s full statement on plans regarding summer camp programming, click here. For a full list of district programming decisions for the summer, click here.   

The park district said its Facebook page or website will have more information about guidelines and closures as time goes on.

This story will be updated.

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