Four Steps For Keeping Your Camp Safe This Summer

June 21, 2021
Mother and daughter reviewing test kit

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a physical and mental health toll on everyone, especially young people. Adolescents and young adults have faced increased anxiety and depression, and parents are eager to get their children back safely to the activities they love. Parents are seeking reassurance from camp directors that plans are in place to keep their children safe from COVID-19.

With fewer than half of adolescents having received their first vaccination dose as of mid-June, the reality is that many children are starting the summer without the benefits of the vaccine. Even as vaccination rates rise, it’s likely that many camps will have mixed populations, with some campers and staff vaccinated, while others are not.

As summer camp directors embark on another “unprecedented” summer, here are four ways they can help ensure their camps reopen safely:

  1. Promote vaccination to eligible camp participants. The CDC recommends that everyone aged 12 years and up be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible to prevent contracting or transmitting the disease. The greater the proportion of your campers and staff that are vaccinated ahead of arrival, the safer your whole community will be. Camps can help to encourage vaccination and ease concerns for the families of prospective and confirmed campers by proactively sending out vaccine safety information and their COVID-19 policies. This can be done before the start of camp through email or direct mail.
  2. Focus on safer activities. Programs in which all campers are vaccinated prior to the start of camp can safely return to full capacity, without masking or physical distancing, according to the CDC. For camps with mixed populations, camp directors can prioritize activities that are lower risk, including outdoor activities like swimming, kayaking, canoeing, biking, and walking or running. Additionally, a focus on activities that are less crowded or limit close contact is recommended. If you have indoor activities planned as part of your camp program, ensure good ventilation by keeping the windows open, turning on fans, and using portable air cleaners. In addition, promote masking and physical distancing indoors for unvaccinated campers and staff -- and hand-washing for everyone.
  3. Make a plan for sickness. Even with good intentions and preventative measures in place, it’s possible that a camper or staff member in your community will contract COVID-19 during the summer. It’s key to have a plan of action ahead of time (Communicable Disease Plan). Select an isolation room or area for sick campers or staff members, preferably with access to its own bathroom, and close off areas used by the sick person until they are cleaned and disinfected (wait as long as possible, at least several hours, before you clean and disinfect). Arrange for safe transfer home for day campers or an adult-supervised isolation plan for overnight campers until they can rejoin the camp.
  4. Enable regular testing. To help prevent transmission, the CDC suggests screening testing for campers and staff who are not fully vaccinated. Testing can provide valuable insight into the status of your community--and help build confidence among campers, staff and parents. There are many different options for COVID-19 testing. It’s important that testing is convenient and reliable for families and staff. Camps can easily bulk order discounted at-home test collections kits for staff or to keep on hand for routine testing. At-home kits are also available for parents to purchase on their children’s behalf online. Labcorp offers kits for ages 2 and up with a short, painless nasal swab and provides reliable results just 1-2 days after the sample is received.

While this summer will be a challenge for everyone, taking these proactive measures will help set every camp up for success.

This blog was sponsored by Labcorp. Pixel by Labcorp offers this test and collection kit with an FDA Emergency Use Authorization. This means that while the laboratory performing this test has validation data to support offering this test and the collection kit, neither have been approved or cleared by the FDA. This test has only been authorized by FDA for detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2 (i.e., the COVID-19 virus), and not for any other virus or pathogen. It is only authorized during the duration of the COVID-19 emergency declaration by federal regulators. Labcorp may modify or cease to offer the test and the test kit upon direction of state or federal regulators in its sole discretion. Please see the Patient Fact Sheet and the Health Care Provider Fact Sheet for additional information.

Periodically, the American Camp Association (ACA) makes timely and relevant information about products and services available to its members so they can make informed decisions for their camps. However, the ACA does not endorse products, services, or companies.