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With pandemic restrictions easing, San Diego summer camps are filling up fast

Summer is coming. In San Diego, for some kids that means spending a day at the beach. For others, it’s spending a day at summer camps.

At the YMCA of San Diego County, summer camps start June 20 for all 13 locations. With pandemic restrictions easing, more parents are looking to enroll their kids at summer camps.

For Lauren Gregg, who oversees camp enrichments at the YMCA, it's both exciting and a headache.

"I think the biggest thing is that just coming back and not having as much staff as we usually had before," she said. "There's a staffing issue right now, so it is limited based on our ratios as to how many kids we can serve based on staff."

She's hoping that, when June comes, more staff will be hired.

It's not just the YMCA. Summer camps throughout San Diego are experiencing the same issue and are filling up fast. That's causing problems for parents such as Viva Nguyen of Otay Ranch.

The working mom of two is looking for all-day camps for her 8-year-old son. The YMCA is one of the programs she looked into.

"Most of them, they get fully book pretty fast, too," she said.

While there are more options this year compared with last year, Nguyen said the more popular programs are already full. But she is a pro at getting her son in the camp he likes. She puts camp registration dates on her calendar months in advance. Nguyen recommends parents do the same.

"That way you won't miss on the chance to get into that summer camp,” she said.

For parents with limited means, summer camps are still an option. The YMCA has scholarships available.

"As an association, we believe that no family should be denied access to an amazing summer camp experience," YMCA camp director Tabitha Valencia said.

Parents can visit a YMCA branch or go online to fill out an application. Applications are available in English, Spanish and Mandarin, she said.

But do it soon, Valencia said.

"At least put down your $50 deposit that secures you a spot in the camp," she said. "And, as we do a revision of how many staff we have, we have the opportunity to open up spots."

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