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'We Can't Walk Away From The Families': Camp Harbor View Staff Packs Summer Kits For Hundreds Of Families

BOSTON (CBS) – A popular Boston summer camp is working hard to provide summer fun, even though it can't open in the traditional sense this year. The staff of Camp Harbor View on Boston's Long Island spent Wednesday making special 'summer engagement kits' for would-be campers.

With the concerns around COVID-19, the camp decided it would not be possible to guarantee the safety of the hundreds of inner city kids who normally attend camp.

"When the pandemic hit we were so saddened to realize that we weren't going to be able to have programming on our island for the nearly thousand kids that we serve here in Boston," camp Executive Direct Lisa Fortenberry said. "So we knew right away that we had to recalibrate and figure out what was next."

What's next is packing 750 backpacks and household bins with summer fun and necessities. Working out of a huge room stacked with crates and crates of goods, staff filled kits with games, toys, books, learning tools, art supplies, household supplies, masks, camp apparel, grocery gift cards and more.

Camp Harbor View summer kits
The staff of Camp Harbor View packed hundreds of summer engagement kits for families (WBZ-TV)

"It's really hard for us to duplicate normalcy. It's going to be really a tough summer, I think," said Camp Harbor View President Sharon McNally. "So we're hoping that this will bring a little bit of a reminder of what camp is all about."

There will also be some virtual camp sessions, and families will be provided with meals.

"We build a real relationship with the families whose kids come to camp," McNally said. "It's not just a four-week session of camp - it's a year round relationship that we build over years. They count on us when they have needs."

Camp Harbor View summer kits
The staff of Camp Harbor View packed hundreds of summer engagement kits for families (WBZ-TV)

"They're camp families. We've been at it for 14 years, and just because things change we can't walk away from the families," said Jack Connors, the Chairman and Co-founder of Camp Harbor View. "There's no substitute for watching several hundred kids have a great time in a safe, happy, beautiful environment. They see LNG tankers. They see cruise ships. They see things they've never seen in their six-block neighborhood."

"Oh my gosh, we miss the kids so much!" Fortenberry exclaimed. "Nothing will replace being able to see a thousand amazing young people."

The summer engagement kits are being assembled by camp staff this week in Dorchester. They will then be delivered by school bus throughout the summer.

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