Parents are itching to get their kids outdoors and active, and venues have fewer spots available in order to adhere to COVID-19 safety rules, so it could be harder than ever before to snag a spot for your child at a New Jersey summer camp.

"Things are really crazy right now," said Jonathan Gold, who owns Oak Crest Day Camp in Somerset, Tamarack Day Camp in Randolph, and Pine Grove Day Camp in Wall.

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Gold's been in the business for 25 years, and this is the first time he's seen all three of his camps hit waitlist status by the middle of April.

"My Wall Township camp was on waitlist last month in March, which is unheard of," he said. "Demand was crazy in January and February."

In a March survey conducted by the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey, 60% of its member camps cited higher enrollment and interest compared to previous years.

"Parents see camp as a remedy to the impact COVID-19 has had on their children," said Susie Lupert, executive director of the NY/NJ nonprofit. "They have watched their children become isolated from friends, behind a screen all day during remote learning and missing out on extracurricular activities. Camp is able to rectify all of this in a safe and healthy environment."

Gold, who also serves as president of the NJ Camps Association, said the Garden State saw "14 non-significant cases of COVID" among kids and staff last summer. Camps welcomed tens of thousands of children when they opened to the public in July.

Camps in New Jersey are not held to specific capacity limits, but all camps are expected to welcome fewer campers than they typically would, since they are still required to follow social distancing and mitigation policies.

According to Gold, parents should "get moving now" if they're interested in finding a camp opening for their child. Camps may be able to offer families specific weeks during the summer, to fill spots left open by families who take vacations.

"There's a good chance you're going to get some camp this summer if you get on the list now," he said.

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