More than 3,000 day and overnight camps nationwide ran safe programs with positive outcomes for families.
Martinsville, IN (August 7, 2020) - Positioned at the forefront of child safety during the current pandemic, more than 3,000 camp directors ran — and continue to run — safe day and overnight camp programs across the country during the summer months. As a result, the American Camp Association (ACA) says millions of children have benefited from positive experiences at camp and the answer to some of the important questions regarding going back to school have been answered.
"We have had so many success stories, from overnight camps that have not had a single infection, to day camps that have safely managed large groups of children every day, to virtual camps that made a profound difference for medically vulnerable children," said Tom Rosenberg, American Camp Association chief executive officer. "When camps consistently use the innovative, multilayered safety strategy outlined in our Field Guide for Operating Camps in COVID-19, we see that many of them minimize infections as well as the spread of COVID-19."
The ACA’s Field Guide for Operating Camps was a collaborative effort with youth development professionals focused on health, safety, and risk management, and included guidelines on screening, managing facilities, social distancing and groups, and more. It was launched in May and developed by an independent and external expert panel of specialists in pediatric medicine, infectious disease management, biological safety, industrial hygiene, organizational design, and more.
Due to the success of the guidelines, and the thousands of camps that operated this summer, the ACA — which serves as a leading voice for child development — has collected significant data on the impact of COVID-19 on children, families, and camps. Their findings will be available this fall and will address questions such as:
- What have we learned that we can apply to kindergarten, to 12th grade, and after-school programs?
- What have been parents' top worries? How have camps met their concerns?
- As schools decide between in-person classes and virtual learning, what have camps discovered about the pros and cons of both formats?
- How will schools and extracurricular activities need to evolve to help pandemic kids?
- What sort of programming best counteracts the social, emotional, and physical damage to these "pandemic children"?
"Perhaps the most important story of camp 2020 is the least reported one," said Rosenberg. "Camp directors reported that many children arrived feeling anxious, out of shape, or disconnected. They desperately sought — and ultimately found — the belonging, independence, and resilience they have
needed for months. If schools are going to be successful this fall, they must act on what we’ve learned at camp this summer."
About American Camp Association
The American Camp Association® (ACA) is a national organization with more than 12,000 individual members and 3,100 member camps. ACA is committed to collaborating with those who believe in quality camp and outdoor experiences for children, youth, and adults. ACA provides advocacy, evidence-based education, and professional development, and is the only independent national accrediting body for the organized camp experience. ACA accredits approximately 2,400 diverse US camps. ACA Accreditation provides public evidence of a camp’s voluntary commitment to the health, safety, and overall well-being of campers and staff. For more information, visit ACAcamps.org or call 800-428-2267.