To help tens of thousands of camps in the United States get ready for the summer season, the American Camp Association (ACA) and the YMCA issued detailed guidelines, recommending extensive safety measures in response to the pandemic.
“Given the months of sheltering in place and the countless hours children have logged on screens during this time, the social-emotional benefits camp can provide are even more crucial to the nation’s children now,” Tom Rosenberg, president and CEO of the ACA, said in a press release. “This summer, more than ever, children need camp.”
However, Rosenberg also noted that summer camps are going to look very different this year, as numerous changes will be implemented to promote health and safety.
The 82-page guide, released by the nation’s two largest summer camp associations on Monday, lists a host of changes that campers, parents, and camp staff should expect to see this summer, such as daily temperature checks, smaller family-like group activities, new dining and bunking strategies to support physical distancing, regular cleaning and disinfecting of shared equipment, and staggered arrivals and departures.
The field guide also emphasizes that camps should open only when approved by state and local authorities, and in locations that have met the criteria for Phase 2 and 3 as noted in the White House “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again,” meaning that there needs to be abundant rooms in hospitals and a 14-day decline in symptoms, cases, and the ratio of positive tests of COVID-19, the disease the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus causes.
“We hope that camps will be able to make informed, safe, and responsible decisions about if, when, and how they operate this summer,” said Paul McEntire, chief operating officer at YMCA of the USA.
The YMCA operates about 10,000 day camps and 300 overnight camps across the nation. McEntire told NBC’s “TODAY” that decisions on whether to reopen for the summer are made locally.
Summer camps are hoping to open in a number of states, even if with limitations. In Connecticut, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order on Monday, delaying the reopening of day camps till June 22 and canceling overnight camps. Meanwhile in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said on the same day that day and overnight camps can open on May 31, as long as they follow safety protocols.
The fate of summer camps remain uncertain in states such as New York, where campers, parents, and camp directors are still waiting for guidance from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and health officials.