Hopes for a speedy resolution to the coronavirus crisis have diminished as the lockdown enters a third month, and some experts predict that the situation will continue through the summer. However, organizations behind some of the country’s biggest summer camps are now announcing new guidelines that will allow some facilities to open this summer. These companies say that they hope to provide a safe environment for kids to enjoy a normal summer camp experience while providing relief for parents in need of child care.
Summer Camp Giants Weigh In
The YMCA of the USA and the American Camp Association (ACA) released a joint statement on May 18, announcing the adoption of an operations guide for Summer 2020.
“More than 20 million children attend camp each summer in the United States for the opportunity to gain important life skills, prevent summer learning loss, take a break from technology, and try new activities in an outdoor environment,” the statement read. “Camp additionally provides essential care and supervision for working parents during the summer months.”
Among the guidelines included in the plan are regular sanitizing, hand-washing, social distancing, staggered meals, smaller group activities and staggered arrivals and pick-ups, reported Today. The guidelines also include procedures for cleaning and disinfecting camping equipment, as well as for pool safety. While the document states that disinfecting a pool with chlorine or bromine “will likely inactivate the virus in the water,” safe distancing between swimmers is still encouraged.
The literature also describes screening measures, including questionnaires given before and upon arrival at the camp. Camps will administer ongoing screenings to campers in the form of temperature and symptom checks.
Keeping Camp Open Amid the Coronavirus
Speaking to Today, ACA CEO Tom Rosenberg said that while many camps will be open, it won’t necessarily be business as usual.
“I think it’s going to be a continuum of camp this summer across the country,” said Rosenberg. “Some camps will open with shortened sessions and have in-person camps, some camps will have virtual camping opportunities for kids who can’t attend in person, some camps are pivoting to other types of programs like family camp. There are already lots of different choices, but not necessarily looking typical this summer.”
YMCA COO Paul McEntire said he hopes keeping camps open will help parents in need of child care this summer.
“[A] lot of parents have choices [about] whether to send their child to camp or not, but many others don’t,” McEntire told Today. “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 [guidelines] so that [campers] can be as safe as possible as children.”