This coming summer, Helsinki’s public playgrounds will arrange summer camp activities for schoolchildren in grades 1-3 on weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm. The camps are free of charge, but children must pre-register to participate. As in previous years, the city will also provide free hot lunches to children at some Helsinki playgrounds, with no registration required.
Registration for daytime summer camps at Helsinki’s public playgrounds will begin on Wednesday, 27 May at 8 am on the City of Helsinki’s Summer Playgrounds website. A single summer camp group will accommodate between 8 and 10 children. Each group will have its own instructor, who will make sure the children follow social distancing guidelines. Most of the camp activities will take place outdoors. The indoor playground facilities are reserved exclusively for children who have registered for the camps.
In the summer of 2020, Helsinki’s public playgrounds will not however arrange guided early childhood education sessions for families with small children, nor will they host public shows, events or celebrations. All of the permanent playground equipment will be open for use, but wading pools found at some of the city’s public playgrounds will not be filled with water. In addition, the city’s video service Helsinki-kanava and the individual playground Facebook accounts will share a series of playground play sessions online for children and their families on a daily basis.
Free mid-day meal served to all children under the age of 16
The City of Helsinki will also continue its long tradition of serving a free-of-charge noon lunch to children at select playgrounds, this year on weekdays from 1 June to 7 August. Check the Summer Playgrounds website for a list of the playgrounds that will be participating. No pre-registration is necessary for the summer playground meal, as all Helsinki children under the age of 16 are welcome to participate, as long as they bring their own spoon or fork and water bottle. Keep in mind that playground interiors are reserved for summer camp participants only, meaning that indoor restrooms and water taps will be off-limits.
“Summer playground meals are highly anticipated each year and a very important service for schoolchildren and families of little ones. The significance of this lunch option has grown under the state of emergency, as it will help relieve some daily stress and promote family wellbeing,” says Hanna Linna, Helsinki’s director of playground and afternoon activity operations.
Playground staff will pay special attention to enforcing the recommended safety and hygiene standards during the meals, asking participants to follow the playground’s safety guidelines, observe good hand hygiene, and eat in small groups. Food will be distributed from several serving points, and children will stand at safe intervals as they queue. See the playground website for more information about the service’s practical arrangements.
The City of Helsinki’s Education Division complies with official recommendations issued by the Finnish government, and considers them in the organization and arrangement of the summer playground meals.
Photo: Mika Ruusunen.