Health and safety the priority at 2020 Kellogg's GAA Cúl Camps
By John Harrington
The health and safety of children, coaches, and co-ordinators will be the highest priority at the 2020 Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps.
The first phase of Kellogg’s Cúl Camps activity starts on June 29th with the broadcasting of a new GAA Kellogg’s Cúl Camp TV programme on TG4 for a three-week period, followed by the beginning of the Cúl Camps themselves from July 20th.
The GAA’s National Cúl Camp Coordinator, Charlie Harrison, says those involved in running the camps will take every caution to ensure the camps adhere to all HSE and GAA health and safety guidelines.
“Obviously these are very strange times, but we were determined this year to give children the opportunity to play Gaelic Games this summer in a Cúl Camp setting that's also a safe environment which adheres to all the HSE and GAA health and safety guidelines,” Harrison told GAA.ie
“Protocols around the way we run Cúl Camps have changed to ensure the safety of our participants and staff is paramount. That was always the case, but we're now extra cautious given the current circumstances.
“We're adhering the GAA's Safe Return to Gaelic Games document and all that's outlined in that document.
“And we're also doing Coach Education whereby everyone involved in the camps will have to complete a Covid-19 eLearning module. Plus, there's additional Cúl Camp coordinator training on top of that.
“Our camps start on July 20 which coincides with Phase Four of the GAA's Safe Return to Gaelic Games plan and things will look a little different.
“Dressing-rooms will not be allowed to be opened so we're advising that grounds to be used in this period are ones with stands or dug-out areas so kids will be able to go there if they need shelter at any stage.
“And then once Phase Five begins on August 10 we'll be able to open changing rooms so hopefully things will go back to a little more normality.
“We're obviously able to play our games, but there are things that we will restrict kids from doing such as high-fives and shaking hands.
“Off the pitch we will adhere to social distancing rules. And on the pitch we will be coming up with innovative ways to play games that maybe reduce the amount of contact that kids have on a day to day basis.
“Also, the health questionnaire will have to be completed prior to taking part in a Cúl Camp by parents. The toilets will be cleaned on a regular basis as will all equipment.
“We'd be asking children to bring their own water-bottles, not to be sharing food or drinks or anything with other kids.
“And we'd ask parents to pack a little hand sanitizer into their kid's pack. So they can use that under supervision when needed.
“The onus will be on parents to check their child's temperature and see if there are any symptoms related to Covid-19 prior to a session.”
The 4,000 people who had pre-booked places in the 2020 Cúl Camps before the Covid-19 pandemic have all been contacted and given three options – a full refund, a delivery of kit and a refund of the remaining amount, or priority for a place in one of the GAA’s re-scheduled camps.
Priority booking has been the most popular option thus far from those who have responded. Priority booking will be available from next Monday, June 22, to 6pm on Tuesday June 23. Normal registration will resume on our website from Tuesday, June 23 at 6pm.
A list of all venues that are currently confirmed will be published on the Cúl Camp website gaa.ie/kelloggsculcamps on June 22nd.
Other clubs who have not already committed to hosting a Cúl Camp but who at a future date decide they want to will be added to this list on an ongoing basis.
“A number of clubs have said they won't be hosting Cúl Camps this year, but they're more than welcome to come back on board if they so wish,” says Harrison.
“This is a fluid situation. Not only has there been a further reduction on social distancing this morning, the situation is likely to continue changing over the coming weeks and July 20th is a long way away.
“Clubs can come back on board if they feel that they are capable of doing so.
“We want the majority of our venues up on the site by June 22 for priority booking. But as others come in incrementally we'll also put them up.
“We have a five-week period that we can run camps. We'd be hoping that as soon as we get over Phase Four in the first couple of weeks that maybe some other clubs might decide that they might now want to host a camp having seen some of their neighbouring clubs do so.”
The GAA Kellogg's Cúl Camps series on TG4 will be presented by Gráinne Bleasdale and feature input from multiple All-Ireland winning Cork Camogie and Football star, Rena Buckley, Dublin hurler Liam Rushe and former Donegal footballer star Kevin Cassidy. The series will include skills, drills, games, nutrition, and wellness segments.
“Our traditional start date for this year would have been June 29th and to keep kids active we've come up with the virtual camp with TG4 and Kellogg’s starting on the same date,” says Harrison.
“That's going to run for a three-week period and it's going to be shown from 10.25am to 11am every morning for three-week period and then repeated at 5.15pm in the afternoon.
“I suppose that's one way that we can provide a little normality to kids and to parents to have a little routine around that.
“The programme is excellent. We've skills challenges, Grainne Bleasdale is an excellent presenter, and the stars that we have involved and the two GPOs are all excellent.
“We have a nutrition element as well which will be hosted by Kate McDaid. There's also a little two-minute mindfulness piece at the end of every session which we think is very important because obviously the current situation is very stressful, not just for parents but for children as well.
“We hope that the programme will bring some amount of normality back into children's lives.”
A little sense of normality is certainly to be welcomed in these strange times, and there’s no doubt the Kellogg’s Cúl Camps will provide a sense of that because they’re very much a feature of the Irish summer.
Since 2006, 1,389,539 children have participated in the Cúl Camps programme including over 156,000 children and nearly 6,000 coaches in 2019.
It would have been an awful shame if they didn’t go ahead at all this year, so the fact that they now will is a real good news story at a time when good news stories are badly needed.
“It definitely is,” says Harrison. “We've gotten huge positivity on the website and on social media. Parents are delighted.
“The Cúl Camp is nearly a rite of passage every summer now for children and the gear is almost a symbol of the summer.
“Obviously some clubs won't be able to host a camp, but children who can't attend a camp at their club will at least be able to buy the gear online.
“We don't have a final date on that, but it will be possible to buy the gear from our website - gaa.ie/kelloggsculcamps - for any child who can't attend a camp.”