ROME — After months of quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Vatican will open its gardens and several buildings to the children of its lay employees for summer camps in July.

The “Summer for Young People at the Vatican,” a series of weeklong camps July 6-31, is planned as a “unique experience where young people can discover the beauty of sharing, feel that they are among family and become friends so as not to remain alone, and to feel welcomed and valued,” said Bishop Fernando Vergez, secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

During the summer camp, Vatican employees’ children aged 5-14 will be able to take part in various summer activities in the world’s smallest sovereign state, including team sports at the Vatican heliport, educational activities in the Vatican Gardens and ping pong, table sports as well as meals in the Paul VI audience hall.

Led by certified educators and professional entertainers — and assisted by Salesian priests working at the Vatican — the children will also be able to play tennis, basketball and soccer as well as aquatic sports in newly installed pools at the Vatican.

In a letter sent in early March, Vergez said that while the summer can be a much-needed break from work, school and the “frightening” pandemic, it also risks “becoming a time of boredom and various attempts to keep busy in the day in between the wise company of grandparents and the alienating company of TV and video games.”

“The summer should be, especially after these months, a beautiful and fruitful time for the path of growth of young people; the vast free time needs to be filled with meaning so that it has an educational and formative sense,” he wrote.

The July summer camp, Vergez added, would provide a unique experience for children and young people to see a “church that helps families, that takes care of young people and to encounter the Lord in a favorable time.”

“I wish to express to all of you my hope that this summer — despite everything — may be a splendid occasion to live together, discovering every day the beauty of life in community,” he said. “It is the experience of being a church where each one can feel welcomed and, in turn, learn how to welcome others.”