Heat wave forcing DuPage summer campers inside
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A stifling heat wave has caused park officials across DuPage County to alter programs that normally welcome the sun and warm temperatures: summer day camps.
From canceling field trips to limiting outdoor activities, officials have taken measures to ensure campers' safety with the heat index expected to remain above 100 degrees through Thursday.
But convincing campers they should spend part of their vacation indoors has been a challenge.
"The kids want to be outside," Itasca Park District Recreation Supervisor Susan Rioux said. "They love playing outside and playing outdoor games and things like that. To have kids realize it's too hot to be outside, we have to be creative."
Rioux said she and her staff have added indoor dodgeball tournaments and scavenger hunts to the camps. She also limits campers to 30-minute increments of outdoor activity and provides extra water breaks.
"The one thing we pride ourselves on is that we offer a lot of outdoor activities," Rioux said. "We like to focus our camp outdoors. But it has been interesting because now we are trying to facilitate more indoor activities."
In Aurora, Fox Valley Park District Recreation Supervisor Rose Gloor said some parents have kept their children home in the heat.
"Safety of the children is first and foremost," she said. "We try not to plan anything too active because sometimes kids don't really monitor themselves. It's our responsibility to make sure they are not overdoing it."
Gloor said outdoor activities have been adjusted slightly for the heat. Water balloon fights and slip-and-slides become more common as the mercury rises.
Counselors have picked up additional water hoses, sprinklers and ice tubs to try to keep the kids cool.
"We want (campers) to be wet as much as possible," she said. "It's been a challenge."
Lisle Park District officials keep in touch throughout the day to determine whether camps should be moved inside to Lisle High School. The camp typically runs close to its capacity of 112 campers.
Park directors say the scorching heat has caused them to cancel a planned trip to Starved Rock State Park in Utica and they instead will take their campers bowling.
"We'd like to go but safety is our No. 1 priority," said Athletic and Youth Camp Supervisor Erica Wise.
The move was duplicated in Wheaton, where a Brookfield Zoo visit was nixed.
Wheaton Park District Marketing and Special Events Coordinator Cathy Hetrick said the heat has caused some programs to move indoors. Some campers have enjoyed the changes, she said, because the heat has given them additional days at the pool.
"They love being wet and in their swimsuits," she said. "We haven't heard any complaining. Parents understand that we have the best interests of the kids in mind."
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