Will the coronavirus kill a summertime rite of passage, summer camp, for kids who have already seen their spring plans destroyed?
If they move ahead, they will certainly have a different look under the new guidelines just released. Those include kids and staffers wearing masks, social distancing, smaller groups and keeping those groups together rather than mingling with others, limiting shared equipment, changing sleeping in the cabins to head to toe at least four feet apart and lots and lots of hand washing and cleaning. The guidelines also recommend field trips and other travel outside the camp be canceled this year.
For day camps, expect new pickup and dropoff procedures under the guidelines, including parents remaining in the car and only one designated person to do the pickup/dropoff.
Safety of campers remains the most important focus, says Colette Marquardt, executive director of American Camp Association, Illinois, based in Chicago.
Some camps have already determined they can’t run this year’s camps while others are waiting for guidelines, she says. Some have already decided to go virtual. The American Camp Association just launched a brand new online search tool for virtual camps.
One big topic for camps is whether they can even obtain the personal protection equipment and increased amount of cleaning supplies needed to protect campers from the virus. For example, the new guidelines have suggested supplies that camps should buy, including 50 percent more hand soap and paper towels, 100 percent more cleaning supplies and disinfectant wipes and to have 50 ounces of hand sanitizer per 100 people per day available.
Since every camp situation will be different, Marquardt continues to advise parents to check in with camps they are interested in for their kids for guidance on next steps for this summer.
“There will be something. It may look different. It may feel a bit different but at the core, that community and that focus on the development of a child will still be the mission,” she has said.
Marquardt says camp directors are examining everything in order to find a solution for summer camp 2020.
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This article originally published on April 7, 2020. It has been updated with the most recent information.