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Missoula summer camps brave this week’s heat wave 

Watery geysers erupt from huge metal flowers and dangling buckets douse kids running beneath at a splash park near the University of Montana. A few feet away under a shaded pavilion, dozens of elementary schoolers are preparing to brave the sun.

Meg Whicher wades through the aerosol clouds. She manages summer camps for Missoula Parks and Recreation. This week, almost all of the more than 300 kids participating in Missoula’s camps are spending at least some time indoors — keeping out of the blistering triple-digit temperatures set to bake the city.

Whicher says canceling the camps wasn’t an option.

“Camps are essential childcare,” Whicher says. “And so, we never cancel camp, which means we need to make sure that we have a place and fun for these kids to do so parents can work and so society can continue to keep moving.”

Whicher says her concerns about the impacts of heat and wildfire smoke on campers have grown during her 10 years on the job. This group of kids is one of the few still outside because they’ve got lots of shade and access to the splash park.

For the other camps, Whicher says Parks and Rec are ready to weather the rest of the week.

“We bought fans that squirt water in the kids’ face, extra water guns, extra water balloons, and a whole entire freezer filled with Otter Pops,” Whicher said.

That’s about 10 popsicles per camper.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

He is best reached by emailing
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