Summer camps for youth, Dot Baseball prepped to go

Youth-focused summer programs — including the popular Dorchester Baseball league— are preparing to re-open early next month as part of the anticipated “phase three” outlined by Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday.

Additionally, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester (BGCD) announced that they are working toward a July 6 re-opening of its early childhood education and day care programs, subject to state approval. The facility’s summer theme is dubbed “Outdoor Stay-cation,” which will include “summer fun sessions” by mid-July.

BGCD programs will operate with very limited capacity — an estimated 25 percent—in compliance with state guidelines. They are planning both in-person and virtual summer programming for youth ages 5-18 but will not offer field trips or any other off-site activities; the majority of programming will take place outside on their playgrounds. 

“The Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester looks forward to continuing to serve the young people and families within the community and maintain the connections to services so many have come to rely on every day,” read a statement released by the club on Monday.

“All BGCD employees, parents, and participants will be required to self-screen and attest to their health daily. When being physically distant isn’t possible, staff will wear face coverings, and children ages three and older will be strongly encouraged to do the same.” 

The BGCD’s safety advisory task force, which was created in early June, will monitor state and city guidelines and work to open programs to more children and opportunities if updated requirements allow.  The task force will continue meeting over the next several weeks to develop a phased plan for transitioning all virtual programming to more comprehensive offerings based at the Club. 

At the Dorchester YMCA, youth camps and teen employment programs are slated to start on June 29. The Y’s youth sports and fitness center is targeted for reopening on July 6 or July 13. The leadership is still reviewing what will happen with swim lessons.

“As with most things nowadays, these are all subject to change,” said Anthony Attride, the Y’s executive director.

Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF)  has no plans yet to offer in-person programming and recreation. Mayor Walsh announced last week that “virtual programs” would be offered.

“We are looking forward to providing our teens with engaging and fun summer programming, knowing that this is a difficult time with important new regulations and practices to follow,” said BCYF Commissioner William Morales. “We have a diverse menu of virtual options planned and look forward to ‘seeing’ our youth again.”

Charlie Maneikis and Mike Manning, co-presidents of Dorchester Baseball, expect to host the first game of the season on July 6, but without an official opening day ceremony or parade.

“We’re planning to have our first games in phase three, which would give us a July 6 date for our first game. We hope to begin limited practices in the second part of phase two, which will start next Monday,” said Maneikis. 

The co-presidents said that RODE Architects met with them last week on site at Victory Road and Ventura Park and volunteered their time to help design appropriate social distancing plans.

“We’re looking to see if DCR might provide limited construction work to extend benches and increase the height of fences to help players keep with social distancing, and we’re studying best practices across the country,” said Maneikis.  

Each Little League player will be required to wear a face covering, fans will also have to adhere to proper safety protocols, and a paid “Covid-19 safety umpire” will be hired to ensure protocols are followed. 

“We’re focused on what we can control,” said Manning. “The safety of the kids, coaches, and fans comes first. The Covid-19 safety umpire will arrive a half an hour before the game and take attendance required for contact tracing.

“We just really want full compliance because it only works if everyone is being safe,” he said. “We’re waiting for some more phase three details to outline what we can do safely. We’re not sure if we can have regular umpires because of social distancing requirements.”

Maneikis and Manning noted that the Dorchester Baseball board of directors decided that the organization could not safely manage a program for youth ages 4-6, but allowed the reopening of programs for youth ages 7-12.  “We’ve had a great response from parents and almost 130 kids are registered for the group,” noted Maneikis.
The governor’s reopening plan is subject to revision based on the latest public health data. Each phase is expected to last three weeks, but could last longer depending on any new trends or surges in virus cases.