NEWS -- Northern organizations that offer summer camps are preparing for the 2021 season. From masks to physical distancing officials want parents to know that health and safety is top of mind.

“Last summer, we had the opportunity to learn how to do things very differently said Ryan Land, director of education and northern programs at Science North.

"We only offered camps in five communities last year and I’m happy to say we did that safely.”

For more than 30 years, Science North has offered summer camps that introduce children to the worlds of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Sudbury’s summer science camps are offered at Science North for kids ages 4-11 in English and French and will run from July 5 through Sept. 3.

Land said parents and kids seem very motivated as the camps are already 75 per cent booked in Sudbury.

Elsewhere, YMCA’s John Island Camp on the Spanish River is hoping to open for overnight camps after having to remain closed last summer.

“Along with other camp operators and the Ontario Camping Association, we are looking at whether we will be able to provide rapid testing for participants and staff before they come to the island possibly during their stay on the island," said Helen Francis, YMCA Northeastern Ontario CEO.

"So in the event that someone was found to be COVID positive, we’d be able to isolate quickly.”

Paula Fields first sent her daughter Ava to the John Island Camp in 2018 and said she couldn’t believe the change in her shy, reserved daughter after only one week.

“When I picked her up she was a different child -- very animated, very interactive, excited," said Fields. "The relationships that she made at the camp really changed her in a very positive way.”

She has registered Ava for summer 2021, which is something she is looking forward to.

“Social interactions other than immediate family have been very limited," Fields said. "I felt it was really important to sign her up for this coming summer. Vaccine rollout is coming quickly. I’m hopeful that we won’t be in lockdown at the time and that she’ll be able to attend.”

For those who aren’t ready for in-person camps Science North will also offer Summer Science at Home, an online science program for children this summer. The activity-based hour held on Zoom offers children the chance to experiment, build and tinker with stuff found around the house.