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Summer Camps Look to Open Despite COVID Concerns

Mar 8, 2021

Every kid dreams of a summer camp experience filled with bonfires, water sports, and outdoor activities, but no one would have thought a pandemic would be included in this list.

With new rules and regulations being established, camps are making efforts to open back up this summer. With the reality of reopening amidst a global pandemic, adjustments to the normal functionality of summer camps seems necessary in making a safe experience for all.

According to the National Camp Association, there were less than 20 percent of overnight camps operating last summer. Thus, some opted in for a virtual alternative. 

When thinking about summer camp, being glued to the computer is far from what comes to mind. However, for some long-time campers, this seemed crucial in keeping the camp community alive. 

For Tessa Hoffman, sophomore, this would have been her 7th and final summer as a camper at Herzl Camp in Webster, Wis. 

“Having to finish off my camp career over the computer was definitely strange, but I appreciated all the staff who volunteered and tried to make our summer normal despite the unusual circumstances,” Hoffman said.  

Having had a summer to prepare and adjust to this new normal, camps are designing an approach to operating during the pandemic.

The American Camp Association has been offering information focused on health, safety, and risk management practices to provide camps some assistance with reopening this summer. 

After reviewing data of camps that operated last summer, the American Camp Association found that successful prevention and mitigation of the virus was attributed to various strategies such as wearing masks, distancing, frequent handwashing, and enhanced sanitation. 

It’s believed that these strategies, along with limiting visitors and indoor activities, should be strictly enforced by any camp hoping to stay up and running during this unprecedented summer. 

Even with these various precautions being taken, The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests camps find ways to proceed with virologic testing, especially for campers or staffers who have COVID-19 symptoms. 

As for vaccines, The American Academy of Pediatrics thinks It’s likely that camp staff will meet the criteria as essential childcare workers eligible for vaccination. However, camps are still encouraged to follow a strict set of rules and navigate this unfamiliar situation with the utmost circumspection. 

Even if camps will look different and activities will be altered, campers and staff are enthusiastic about coming back.

Katerina Kruse, sophomore, is looking forward to attending the annual Just For Kix summer dance camp in Rochester, Minn. this year. 

“Although it’s evident that this summer is going to be far from normal, I’m looking forward to returning and I’m eager to get back doing the thing I love in person again,” Kruse said. 

As camps are overcoming obstacles to implement a safe and engaging camp experience, it looks like some post-quarantine summer fun is definitely to come. 

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