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Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Considering summer camp for the kids? Here's what to know

Posted June 9, 2020 8:37 p.m. EDT

How to send your kids to summer camp for free

For many families, summer camp will be a must this year — even during the COVID-19 pandemic. As North Carolina begins to reopen and virtual school ends, many workplaces are beginning to open back up. And that means some parents will have no choice but to find summer child care for their kids.

What should parents keep in mind as they make summer plans for their kids? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers some camp guidance for this most unusual summer.

Is summer camp high risk?

It depends. As the CDC states, the more people a child comes in contact with, the greater chance that the coronavirus will spread. But some camps present bigger risks than others.

Camps with small groups of kids who stay together all day, each day; don't share objects; and remain at least six feet from each other are considered lowest risk, especially if outdoor activities are prioritized and all campers are from the same area. Camps that mix groups of kids from the same area, but where they remain at least six feet apart, spend a lot of time outside and don't share objects presents "more risk."

Camps where campers from the same geographic area mix between groups and don't remain spaced apart presents "even more risk." And camps with kids who mix between groups, don't remain spaced apart and are not from the same geographical area are highest risk.

How can camps reduce the spread?

The CDC recommends that camp directors educate campers and staff that they need to stay home if they are sick or have been in contact with somebody who has tested positive for COVID-19.

At the same time, regular hand-washing is a must. Face coverings for staff and campers also is a good idea and are "most essential" when physical distancing is difficult, according to the CDC.

How often should the camp be cleaned?

The CDC also offers guidelines here, recommending that camps develop a schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection. It also recommends that camps discourage the sharing of items and that each campers' belongings are stored separately. The CDC encourages modified layouts and physical barriers and guides to ensure campers stay apart.

Are there other ways that camps can maintain healthy operations?

The CDC offers up a slate of recommendations for summer camps, including:

  • Keeping small groups together
  • Staggering arrival and drop-off times
  • Avoiding any group events, field trips and special performances
  • Designating a COVID-19 point of contact.

What policies should a camp have when somebody gets sick?

The CDC lists a series of guidelines, including ensuring the sick person stays home until they have met the CDC's criteria to discontinue home isolation, according to the federal agency.

Camps, the CDC recommends, also should have a plan on how they'll immediately separate staff and campers with COVID-19 symptoms, close off the areas used by the sick person until they've been cleaned and disinfecting and notify the appropriate officials.

Still not sure what to do? The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension has a series of questions that parents can ask camp directors to find out if a summer camp you're considering is the right place for your family.