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The Return of Summer Camp

The Return of Summer Camp

After a year of missing out – from team sports and family gatherings to socializing -- and a year spent in front of screens, kids are overdue for an activity-filled summer. Many camps did operate in some capacity last year, so this isn’t their first rodeo. Plus, many camp staffers have likely been vaccinated, which changes the game. But while parents are no doubt eager for a return to summer camp, they may have some questions as they plan.

What’s the overall game plan to keep kids safe?

Do what works. What researchers have seen in schools is that multiple mitigation efforts – masks, social distancing and static groups – work and have kept kids safe while allowing in-person school. Most camps are following this type of model. Outdoor activities are the lowest risk, so keep that in mind when looking at different types of camps.

The CDC now says that it’s sufficient for students to sit 3 feet apart in classroom settings, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)’s camp-specific guidelines do not offer hard-and-fast rules around spacing.

Will testing be required before attending camp?

The new AAP guidance stops short of recommending that all campers should be tested for COVID-19 prior to attending, but be sure to check on this before registering - it could vary by city and by camp.

What happens if there is a positive COVID case at camp?

Know the camp’s plan. This could include how they will remove a camper or staff member infected with COVID from the camp and how they will separate and evaluate close contacts. Ask if the camp would close if there was an outbreak – that way, you can have a plan B in your back pocket.

What’s the mask policy?

It could vary, so be sure to know the policy for each camp. Some may require them only indoors or only when riding on a bus for a field trip. Others may have different policies based on the age of campers. It’s a good idea to plan for a way to keep your kid’s mask clean, like a labeled Ziploc bag.

Ultimately, choosing if and where to send your kids to camp is a family choice, and one you should talk to your pediatrician about if you’re on the fence.