States will again set parameters for when and how camps may operate in 2021. States set the large parameters for this response, but local decisions and implementation are the final steps. This calls for a different type of advocacy, especially in the local area where camps who choose to operate are relying on their own actions and messages of influence with regulatory bodies. The advocacy should not be based on an economic argument, but a goal to seek a path to opening in a safe and effective partnership with regulatory agents. This past summer many camps were able to operate successfully and safely by following guidelines set by, and working in partnership with, their local health departments.

Due to the novelty of COVID-19, the guidelines set by regulatory agencies were necessarily rigorous. Due to the timing of the progression of the pandemic, the guidelines issued also came at the worst possible time in the season for camps. Thanks to camps that did run, there are important lessons learned about safe operations and good examples to which to point. Additionally, more is now known about transmission of the disease, and the vaccination and testing environment is likely to be improved by next season.

We recognize that many local Departments of Health may not understand the timeline for camp preparation. For camps looking ahead to summer 2021, we are recommending camps engage directly with the local health department now. Collectively, camps should help them understand the planning timeline as well as the new protocols and practices camps are putting in place in order to be an effective, flexible public health partner. Camps encourage them to provide guidelines in a timely manner that are updated and revised as necessary reflecting the additional body of knowledge available. Individually, camps should be sharing their COVID-19 response plans and establishing agreements around communication and collaboration this summer.

Download the State Advocacy Toolkit for Camps During COVID-19