Every summer, the small town of Mentone sees an increase in its population as hundreds of boys and girls arrive in search of wholesome fun experiences like horseback riding, archery, boating, swimming, craft making, rock climbing and so much more in one of Alabama’s most beautiful places.
For the last two summers, however, the cloud of COVID-19 has hovered over everything and decreased their numbers. Even though camps reopened last summer after most skipped the 2020 season, the camp capitol of Alabama followed Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines in the interest of public safety, which made many communal activities more challenging.
This year, in light of declining COVID-19 numbers in recent months, the camps plan to operate as normal. That’s good news for Mentone because the economic impact felt by the camps is felt throughout the year. Many camps still require a negative COVID test before coming to camp so parents can feel safe about leaving their child in their safekeeping.
Camps are adding a few final touches before opening day. These children arriving from faraway cities will call Mentone their home for two weeks, and others will replace them after that throughout the summer. When parents drive from all over the country on opening and closing weekends to drop their children off,
their economic footprint becomes significant.
Locals are encouraged to watch for an increase in the number of pedestrians walking through town.
Donna Bares, a co-director of Riverview Camp for Girls, is ready for the new season. Their opening day for the first session is June 5.
“Riverview will be running normally, and we are so excited to see our campers throughout the summer,” Bares said.
Lookout Mountain Camp for Boys (LCM) will be opening its 94th year of operations on June 19.
Owner and Director Woody Morrison said LMC remained open during the height of the COVID pandemic “just like we were during the polio scare in the 1930's” and many of his veteran campers and staffers are excited to return.
“Back to the mountain to enjoy the fun, joy and lifetime excitement we offer from the camp experience,” he said. “Every consideration is being taken to provide a safe, healthy comfortable environment for the boys to grow during their stay. Parents, in particular, are grateful to not only have the opportunity to give their sons our camp experience but have also mentioned how wonderful the folks in Mentone have been to them. We have heard repeatedly that the town of Mentone has made everyone feel welcome and accepted during these tough times. Let the fun begin.”
Camp Comer also opened in 2020 for three weeks at reduced capacity and conducted a successful season of camping for Scouts while observing all state health department guidelines.
Camp Skyline Ranch beings its first session of the summer on June 5. Alpine Camp for Boys opens for the summer with its Junior camp which begins May 31.