Summer camp organizers make changes for Portland’s hot weather

Image: KPTV

As kids are getting out of school, hundreds of them are heading to day camps and sports camps all over the city, but organizers are keeping a close eye on the hot forecast and making some changes.

“We hit the shade in the afternoon and make sure the kids stay very well hydrated,” said YMCA Senior Program Director Dan Umbenhower.

At a YMCA day camp at Lenox Elementary in Hillsboro, a group of children played together Monday afternoon, exchanging the traditional game of "duck, duck, goose" for "drip, drip, splash" – complete with a dripping sponge to help cool them down.

Inside, since there is no air conditioning at Lenox, three industrial fans were brought in to keep the air moving and a well-marked hydration station kept water at the ready.

“The few times a year when we get heat waves we do the best we can to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable,” Umbenhower said.

Tuesday, YMCA campers are going fishing in a well-shaded area at Indian Springs Trout Farm in Oregon City as another way to beat the heat.

Across town at Rose City Park in northeast Portland, roughly 30 children gathered as part of a Baxter Sports day camp, playing capture the flag and dodge ball.

“The first thing we do is change the plan of our day,” organizer Mike Moren said of the hot weather. “So we try and get the activities that are out in the open fields and a lot more running around, get those in the early morning.”

Then in the hottest part of the day, kids are kept in the shade.

Staff also keep a close eye out for any potential warning signs that the heat is just too much.

“Just really being aware and watching the kids and how they look and how they’re feeling and checking if they have headaches, if they look like they’re in it or out of it,” Moren said. “Sometimes they’re not the best reporters, some kids will play until they drop.”

They also keep plenty of sunscreen available, and water breaks are taken every 15 or 30 minutes, rather than every 45.

“We have some cool down procedures,” Moren said. “So we have an ice bucket where we’ll squeeze water over their heads to help drop their temperatures, spray them with water, and also make sure they’re drinking water all day long.”

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