Designating Camp Staff as Essential Workers

December 15, 2020
staff walking young campers

ACA has been advocating for camps and other youth-serving organizations at the federal and state level with an urgency and focus at an unprecedented level — matching the unimaginable challenges camps and camp professionals are facing today. One of our most important advocacy initiatives right now is to have camp staff certified as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers,” allowing staff to be prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccination within the Education sector.

ACA identified this strategy as an advocacy priority in early October and reached out to the Afterschool Alliance, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the JCC Association of North America, and the YMCA of the USA to ask our friends and colleagues to join us as lead organizers in developing a sign-on letter to this end. The letter, with 48 national and regional youth-serving organizations having signed on, was submitted to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday, December 11. In addition, ACA President and CEO, Tom Rosenburg, submitted a public statement to the committee on Sunday, December 13. Once ACIP completes their recommendations, additional state-level advocacy will be required, as state governors hold the ultimate accountability for the prioritization of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Also at the state level, ACA has developed resources and structures to support advocacy regarding consistent and appropriate rules for camps in 2021. From the summer of 2020, we learned that the safety protocols outlined in the Field Guide for Camps are effective at protecting campers, staff, and the local community. In addition, more affordable and available testing and at least some availability of vaccinations should add to these layers of protection. State-level rules for camp in 2021 should reflect these learnings and safety protocols. To get engaged in this effort, please review the ACA Events Calendar and plan to join our next Safe Camp in 2021 Advocacy stakeholder call for up-to-date information about this urgent initiative.

Further, ACA will continue our ongoing and extensive effort to advocate for additional federal- and state-level financial relief for camps. As of today, several of our key provisions have been included in the current relief bill being debated in Congress. All of this, as we continue to work on assuring that the J-1 Cultural Exchange program can continue to move forward this year and in the years to come. Finally, please know we are actively engaging with President-elect Biden's transition team to assure that they are educated on and aware of the critical priorities and essential value of the camp industry and camp experiences for every child before taking office in January.

Photo courtesy of Cranbook Schools Summer Camps in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan