Summer Camps 2021

Summer is just around the corner and after many months of limited activities during a long winter in a pandemic, many parents and children are looking forward to being outside and enjoying summer camp activities.  There are important physical and mental health benefits to summer camp.  Summer camps offer children opportunities for peer interaction, increased independence, leadership roles, exercise and the challenge of trying new things.  These experiences are even more significant given the social limitations that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on children.  It will be important for parents to find summer camps that help children reestablish these important social connections while maintaining the important COVID-19 risk mitigation strategies to keep children healthy while at camp.  Below are some guidelines to consider when thinking about day camp and sleepaway camp for your children.


Day Camps

  • All camps should follow the CDC’s guidelines to maintain healthy environments for campers.  How will your camp implement these guidelines?
  • Creating a Healthy Camp Environment:  Camps should be clear that any camper or counselor experiencing COVID symptoms must remain at home and obtain a COVID test before returning to camp.  What are your camps protocols on daily screenings and quarantine requirements for exposed campers and/or staff?
  • Face Masks:  All campers and counselors should wear face masks.  Exceptions include children under 2 years of age or anyone that is having difficulty breathing.    
  • Physical Distancing:  Campers should maintain a physical distance of 6 feet.  Physical distancing is particularly important during times of high intensity activity.  How will the camp accommodate increased spacing of campers and counselors?
  • Limit Carpooling: Unvaccinated campers should ride to camp with people in their own household.  
  • Hygiene: Campers and staff should wash hands frequently.  Surfaces and shared objects should be wiped down often.
  • How many of the staff/counselors are vaccinated?  
  • How will camps monitor campers and staff daily for COVID-19 symptoms while at camp?  If a child develops symptoms, how will the camp manage sick children and facilitate their safe departure?  Will the camp notify other families if a child tests positive for COVID and what will the policy be?
  • What will be the maximum number of campers per group?  Will the same staff be assigned to the same group everyday?
  • How and how often will shared areas (bathrooms, lunch tables and craft rooms) be cleaned?


Sleepaway Camps

Most sleepaway camps plan to create a “bubble” this summer for children.  In order to do this, children and families will need to limit high risk activities and avoid large gatherings during the week before camp starts.  Most camps will require a COVID test before the camper arrives and many will perform COVID testing on campus once the camper arrives.  Questions to consider when thinking about sleepaway camps are the following:

  • How will camps structure the first week of camp?  Will the camp be able to perform COVID screening tests on all campers once they arrive at camp?  How many times will the campers be tested during the first week?  Will the camp be able to test throughout the duration of the camp session?  
  • Have most of the staff/counselors received the COVID vaccine?
  • Will children wear masks during the first few days of camp?  Will the children be in cohorts for the first week or for the entire camp session?  
  • How will the camp utilize and maximize outdoor spaces?
  • Will any activities take place indoors?
  • Where will children eat?  Inside or outside?
  • How will the camp implement the CDC’s guidance on hand hygiene and increased sanitization of charred surfaces?
  • Does the camp plan to hold parent visiting days?  Unfortunately, most camps will not be able to have camp visiting days as the arrival of many people outside the camp bubble carries the risk of bringing COVID into the camp environment.  If your child’s camp is hosting a visiting day, it is important to ask the camp how they plan to mitigate the risk of COVID exposure.   
  • What is the camp’s plan for a child that has developed COVID like symptoms?  Have they created a place to isolate sick children?  Will the camper be sent home to recuperate and when can they return to camp?  And of course, if a camper does test positive for COVID, how will the camp manage quarantining bunkmates and other staff or campers exposed to the sick camper?  


Sports Camps

It is important that children, who have not been competing and practicing athletics at the same level as they did pre-COVID, return to sports slowly.  An emphasis on increasing strength and conditioning is very important to limit injuries in athletes who are undoubtedly not in the same physical shape that they were before the pandemic.  Sports camps and parents should be particularly aware of the importances of returning to sports slowly and carefully to mitigate risk of injury.


Sports Post-COVID

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that any child that was diagnosed with COVID in the past 6 months,  even asymptomatic infections,  must be seen in person and evaluated by a pediatrician to be cleared to return to sports.


There are so many important medical and mental health benefits of summer camp for children and being able to return safely to camp will be an exciting and long awaited experience for many.  It is important to consider each child’s underlying medical history and to weigh the risks and benefits of returning to camp.  If you have specific questions about summer camp for your child, please don’t hesitate to call to discuss with your pediatrician at Spring Valley.