Summer Camp: What Parents Need to Know This Year – Harvard Health Blog
It’s time to make summer plans, and for many families, these plans include summer camps. After the year we’ve had, the idea of getting out of the house, being active, and seeing other kids is very appealing.
While there is reason to hope that this summer will be better than 2020, the reality is that COVID-19 will be with us. Vaccines will make a difference, but are not yet available for campsites under 16 years of age. Young people and young people who make up the majority of the workforce will also not be vaccinated. So as families make plans, they need to think about COVID-19.
Start here: consider the risk factors
Before even thinking about camping, families should consider the risk factors. Fortunately, high-risk adults in the family will receive the COVID-19 vaccine when the children go to camp. If they haven’t been vaccinated yet, it’s time to get vaccinated.
If children have health problems such as asthma or congenital heart disease that are at increased risk for COVID-19 complications, parents should talk to their child’s doctor before sending them to camp. Some high-risk children may be better off staying home for another summer.
It is also important to make sure that children are up to date with childhood vaccinations. Many children have been left behind due to the pandemic.
Inform them about the dangers of camping, and with the intention of minimizing the risks
There is no camp to do without danger. But there are many ways for camps and parents to reduce risk. Here are some things parents should think about and ask:
Where are the camps and staff from? A local camp made up of children and staff from a town with a small number of COVID cases will be at lower risk than one from different communities, including some with a higher number. The New York Times du Interactive map of the US which can help you check the low or high number of COVID-19 cases in states and regions.
How are summer camps organized? Are they divided into small non-mixed groups (which is better)? Or are they in larger groups – or are they not divided into groups at all? The more the mix, the more exposure and expansion options.
Are the activities mostly indoors or mostly outdoors? The more outdoors, the better. Indoor activities should be in well-ventilated spaces.
How much physical distance is anticipated or possible? It may not be possible to cover distances all day, the camp should be set up in such a way as to limit crowds and provide a space of three to six meters for children whenever feasible. Parents should ask specifically about the usual days and activities in the camp, including how the meals will be handled so that the children will be close to each other.
How much equipment will be shared? The less, the better the shared equipment or surfaces should be cleaned regularly. This is especially important for sports camps. (If your child or teen has had COVID-19, check out my previous blog post return to sports and physical activity then.)
How is the study of the symptom or exposure camp, and what protocols are in place? Symptoms (and out-of-camp exposures) should be reported daily for campers and staff with appropriate plans for staying at home, testing, and quarantine based on the results of these screenings. Sleep camps should have quarantine space and access to tests. Also ask about test requirements.
Will campers and staff wear masks? There may be some situations (such as swimming) that can be difficult to wear masks, but as much as possible, campers and staff should wear masks to make sure everyone is safe.
What are the intentions of the camp to wash its hands? It is important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to limit the spread of germs, including the virus that causes COVID-19. Parents should ask frequently about the availability of campers washing their hands and washing their hands.
What is your meal plan? It is best if the children bring their own food and sit away from each other when they eat. If food is served, it must be pre-packaged in bags or boxes without shared tools.
What kind of training and supervision will staff have about COVID-19? Employees should be trained to know and prevent COVID-19. They should also be supervised and held accountable. There should be written protocols for parents to see.
Are there any additional considerations for night camps? Yes. Night camps need to take extra precautions. As an example, everyone sleeps head to head and uses physical barriers between the bed and the toilet sink.
Talk to your children about how they feel about camping and the concerns they may have about being around others, especially if they are isolated at home. Talk about exactly how the days will work and be prepared to answer any questions you may have.
It seems like a lot to do, but it’s important. For at least more summers, we need to be safe for our own health and the health of everyone around us.
For more information on night camps and recommendations for all camps, check out information on camping safety at COVID-19 On the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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