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Andy Pritikin, right, of Liberty Lake Day Care bumps elbows with a camper.

Andy Pritikin, owner and director of Liberty Lake Day Camp, has been awarded the 2021 American Camp Association Special Recognition Award for his advocacy in opening summer camps in 2020-21, and the policies put into place to ensure a safe summers for campers and staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Pritikin's work motivated hundreds of camps across North America to open last summer, and most of the rest to open in 2021.

Pritikin, who authors nationally published parenting articles and hosts the Day Camp Podcast, has been advocating for years that “kids were already in screen/technology overload, and losing their social skills. Since the pandemic hit, these same children have been forced to stare at screens, while taken away from formative social interaction- causing bigger social, mental, and emotional issues.”

In the months leading up to summer 2020, Pritikin appeared more than 35 times on local and national television and virtual media outlets. Days after he testified at a Senate subcommittee hearing about the re-opening of childcare centers and summer camps, New Jersey day camps were given the green light. Other state governments followed New Jersey’s lead, and hundreds of camps throughout North America opened, following similar safety protocols.

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Liberty Lake Day Camp instituted safety protocols in 2020 that allowed it to serve more than 1,000 campers last year.

Pritikin is passionate with his message that the summer camp experience carries more significance right now than ever before. "Our unique environment really fosters the kind of socialization that can return the childhood experience to our kids," Pritikin says.

Liberty Lake forged a path to opening in 2020, integrating precautions to ensure camper and staff safety. Hand cleaning stations were added throughout camp, activities were altered to fit CDC guidelines and rules about social distancing between groups and activities were put in place.

In the end, more than 1,000 campers and 250 staff took part in activities last summer, with Liberty Lake Day camp reporting that no kids or families testing positive or getting ill.