Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
– Vince Lombardi
Dear Camp Staff:
I am filled with excitement and optimism about the approaching camp season. This summer, after months of isolation and life disruptions, many of you will get to help lead an intentional, child-centered community, immersed in joyous, in-person human connection. Others will lead fun, social, and inspiring virtual camp programs due to unique risk considerations. Either way, with your courageous leadership and dedication, your camp will provide an emotionally and physically safe and supportive learning environment for your campers, your colleagues, and yourself.
The American Camp Association (ACA) has learned that diligent use of face masks by campers and staff; strictly organizing campers and staff into small cohorts, pods, or households; physical distancing between these cohorts; and adapting camp programs with COVID-19-savvy activities in outdoor or well-ventilated facilities are essential risk-reducing measures when layered with frequent health screenings, pre-camp quarantining, and consistent hand and other personal hygiene practices. Last summer many day and overnight camps followed these strategies consistently and enjoyed deeply impactful sessions. They reduced the transmission of the virus by working together with a sense of individual and shared responsibility for this communal strategy.
Indeed, substantial evidence from a number of scientific studies confirms that camps consistently implementing multilayered mitigation strategies — as outlined in the ACA Field Guide for Camps (ACAcamps.org/resource-library/coronavirus/camp-business/field-guide-camps) and in the guidance provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — can operate successfully without substantially increasing risk of spreading the coronavirus. The secret is working together as a community to implement a culture of compliance about these specific mitigation strategies so that everyone can enjoy a wonder-filled and fun summer.
During this pandemic, most kids have only had limited or no in-person connection with their peers. Some have spent months surrounded by a sea of screens, while others have not had access to technology at home and have been extremely socially isolated. There are growing concerns about the traumatic impacts of the increasing anxiety, depression, and declining emotional well-being and physical activity young people are experiencing. Camp allows children to reconnect with each other and offsets the social and emotional learning loss from COVID-19 without the distraction of technology.
This summer, when you are helping your campers build relationships, become more independent, and practice empathy and communication skills, you are helping them strengthen social and emotional learning competencies that will support their academic performance this fall and long into the future. Those same competencies are at the core of college and career readiness. You are teaching them confidence in trying new things, being everyday learners, and developing leadership skills. Despite COVID-19, camp will be inspiring, restorative, and educational for you and your campers this summer.
I congratulate you on your decision to help lead at camp this summer. When has there ever been such an essential need for high-quality, purpose-built summer camp communities as there is today? Thank you for your devoted servant leadership for all kids. Together we are moving forward and transforming lives in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.