Here comes summer, a time when kids attend outdoor camps to have fun and learn new skills. It’s also a time when parents hopefully get a break from the exhaustion of the pandemic and child care.
But experts say that if summer camps open this year, things will be drastically different. Summer camps will have to abide by new local and state orders as well as follow the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC asks that camps must consider basic preventative measures before opening their doors. Among them are the ability to screen children and employees for medical history and exposure to the virus, the wearing of face masks, social distancing, proper hygiene and constant monitoring of signs and symptoms of infection on camp grounds.
The American Camp Association also has an excellent resource page for both professionals and campers alike.
“The safety and health of campers and staff is always the highest priority at camp, and camps have a long history of planning for and managing communicable disease,” says the ACA. “With the spread of the coronavirus disease within the United States, now is an excellent time for camps to review and update health-related plans and procedures.”
According to Axios, camps across the nation are rearranging their state dates and staff requirements to meet the stringent requirements.
“We have to reinvent every element of what we’re doing,” said Jon Kidder, head of the Barrie School, a Maryland private school that has a summer camp. His camp has installed hand-washing and sanitizing stations throughout its 45-acre grounds, and day trips have been cancelled since social distancing on a school bus is impossible.
Other camps have cancelled sleep away options and slashed the number of day campers that can attend. Group activities will be closely monitored allowing time for hand washing in between sessions and contact sports and games for the most part, will be eliminated, according to Axios.
Barrie Camp, along with several others, is offering virtual camp via Zoom with online activities such as arts and crafts, talent shows and scavenger hunts. While experts point out the obvious drawbacks of an online camp versus one held in the great outdoors, they also say that even an hour or two of activity for the kids gives overwhelmed parents a break.
Summer camps, if and when they open depending on the intensity of the pandemic, will also offer a glimpse of what could be expected when schools reopen in the fall, says Axios.
“We’re going to learn a ton of new things,” Kidder says. “It’ll allow us to hit the ground running in the fall.”
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