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Summer camps more than a breath of fresh air for kids

Click to play video: 'Summer camps more than a breath of fresh air for kids' Summer camps more than a breath of fresh air for kids
WATCH: After a far from normal school year, kids are finally finding some semblance of normalcy at summer camps. For a group, horseback riding in north Whitby this week, it's been more than just a breath of fresh air. Aaron Streck has the story. – Jul 29, 2021

The pandemic has affected everyone in one way or another.

After a not-so-normal school year, kids are finding some semblance of normalcy this summer at camps.

For a group horseback riding in north Whitby this week, it’s been a breath of more than fresh air and those around them are noticing.

Xavier Poon is trying something new this summer. Over the course of two weeks, the nine-year-old is at camp, learning to ride horses.

“You get to clean up the horses, you get to ride them, you get to do things that lots of people don’t get a chance to do,” said Xavier.

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Sakina Kizilbash, Xavier’s mom, says “this has been the highlight of their year so far.”

After what she calls a lost year, Kizilbash wanted to get her two kids into something this summer, so she enrolled them at Lake House Stables.

“Just for them to be able to get outside, do some activity, meet other kids; that’s been really important and that’s been something we’ve been missing for a long time,” said Kizilbash.

Xavier was glad to have the opportunity.

“My mom’s at work, my dad’s at work, so what am I supposed to do, stay home?” he said.

While riding has been the highlight so far for Xavier, he says there’s so much more to it.

“You actually get to make up time with other kids that you didn’t get while you’re at school,” he said.

Lake House Stables barn manager Dawn O’Neill says the camp provides “a group setting that they’ve been missing for a year, a year and a half.”

O’Neill has been running the summer camps at Lake House Stables for the past seven years. So far this summer, she’s noticed a big difference from previous ones.

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“A lot of the kids on the Mondays when they come they’re pretty quiet, a little nervous, but this year, especially by Tuesday, they’re way more open, they’re joking, they’re laughing, they’re having a good time,” said O’Neill.

Dr. Anna Banerji, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, says uncertainty has created additional stress for children.

“One day you’re going to school, the next day you’re not,” Banerji said.

She encourages kids to get out and socialize.

“Having this summer with the numbers down and more and more people vaccinated and the rates of COVID have really plummeted since more and more people are vaccinated, I think that’s reassuring for kids because I think a lot of kids have anxiety,” said Banerji.

As for Xavier, moments spent at camp are invaluable, allowing his mind much-needed freedom.

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