How a DeKalb summer tennis camp plans to play on in the age of COVID-19

Camp begins the week of May 26 at the DeKalb Tennis Center.
Camp begins the week of May 26 at the DeKalb Tennis Center.

A summer tennis camp in DeKalb County will continue to serve lessons this year despite worries over the coronavirus pandemic.

Agape Tennis Academy, which operates the DeKalb Tennis Center, will hold camp sessions beginning May 26, the academy said. It plans to implement new safety protocols to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s important that people are still able to get exercise and get outside, and as long as we’re practicing safe precautions and measures, we felt that it would be OK,” said Amy Pazahanick, founder of Agape.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced this week that summer camps will be allowed if they follow a list of 32 regulations, though overnight camps aren’t yet permitted to open.

Still, Agape’s decision goes against the trend among large camps this year. Many will not open, while some academic-focused camps are moving online for at least the first part of summer over worries the virus could spread.

Sports camps at Emory, which usually offer tennis and other sports, are not happening this year, for example. The Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta announced that all in-person camps are eliminated through Aug. 9. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta canceled camps in June, while the Alliance Theatre in Midtown Atlanta told parents that online camp would replace in-person sessions.

Katie Landes, director of the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network, previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that only about a quarter of camp operators she spoke with had tentative plans to open.

Agape is adjusting its tennis camp so no more than five children will be on a court at one time. It also plans to spread out participants and their belongings, and stagger breaks to avoid large groups from forming. Staff will allow time for kids to wash their hands and wipe down surfaces, “just being a whole lot more aware of spacing and germs and touching,” Pazahanick said.

The academy plans to host campers ages 4 to 18 on weekdays until the end of the July, according to its website. Agape is also holding tennis camps in the Macon-Bibb County area beginning in June.

Some worry summer camp closures could cause problems for parents who have to go to work.

Pazahanick said fewer people than usual have signed up for tennis camp, but she has heard from parents who are happy it is still happening.

The DeKalb Tennis Center has been renting out courts and holding hundreds of private, one-on-one lessons this spring.

“Most people are very appreciative that we are still open,” Pazahanick said.