Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, a new detailed-guideline is being implemented for children attending summer camps this year. Summer camp is a yearly tradition for many kids that get to hang out with their friends, enjoy fun activities, and spend time away from their parents. Now that the coronavirus poses a threat to the safety of campers and camp workers, summer for children may never be the same.
The CEO of the American Camp Association, Tom Rosenberg, and COO of YMCA, Paul McEntire, spoke with TODAY about their organization’s mutual guidelines, which details several measures that camps can take to ensure the safety of their staff members and campers, amid the coronavirus. This can include wearing face masks, constant hand washing, screening for exposure to the virus, and limiting campers’ interactions with smaller groups.
“Parents can definitely expect to see safety as the first and foremost focus at camp this summer,” Rosenberg said. “For camp directors, the health and safety of our campers [are] paramount.”
While safety will be the first priority for camps this summer, many people are still interested in knowing whether or not the summer camp durations will remain the same as previous years or canceled altogether. For the American Camp Association:
“It’s going to be a continuum of camps this summer across the country,” Rosenberg said. “Some camps will open with shorten sessions and have in-person camps. Some camps will have virtual camping opportunities for kids who can’t attend in-person […] There are going to be lots of different choices, but not necessarily looking typical this summer.”
For the YMCA, McEntire says that the decisions to open over 10,000 of their camps for the summer are made locally. As long as the YMCA abides by state and local counsel, a large number of their camps will continue their plans to open this summer. On the other hand, some of their 325 overnight camps have elected to not open for the summer this year.
Having camps open for the summer is vital for many parents. While some have the choice to keep their children home for the summer as a precautionary measure, the majority of the other parents rely on camps as a form of childcare.
“A lot of parents have choices whether to send their child to camp or not, but many others don’t,” McEntire said. “They utilize overnight camp and even more day camp as child care because they have to go to work, and so we feel [a] responsibility to design that so that they can be as safe as possible, children, when they’re with us, have fun, be outdoors and allow that parent to go to work.”