It would be an understatement to say that this past year has been difficult. More than half a million Americans have died from Covid19, and more than 40,000 American kids lost at least one parent to the deadly virus.
Many families across the country are still isolating to stay safe.
Still, as millions of vaccines are distributed by the day, it is beginning to look like herd immunity is on the horizon. Thankfully, it’s even looking like we can give our kids a near-normal summer, finally.
So, when the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that summer camps are on the table for 2021, this mama’s shed some tears. Normalcy is coming back, baby!
“During the summer, it is important that children begin to reestablish connections with their friends, peers, and non-parental adults in an environment that supports their development while also consistently practicing the recommended principles to limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2, including physical distancing, density reduction, face masks, hand hygiene, and enhanced hygiene measures and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of surfaces,” the AAP wrote.
While adults and kids 16 years old and older are eligible for the vaccine, younger kids are not.
The thought right now is that although it is possible to spread Covid from a vaccinated person to an unvaccinated person, the likelihood is growing smaller and smaller as more and more people are immunized against the deadly virus. Researchers are racing to understand this better so that the public can make the safest choices available.
Here are some guidelines provided by the AAP and CDC to help parents decide if summer camp is in the cards for 2021.
Promote Healthy Habits
Every camp counselor and camper can take the lead in making sure that everyone can enjoy a clean and safe summer camp experience by sticking to the protocols that we’ve all been hammering into each other for the past year.
- Wear a mask when you’re inside. Wear your mask outside if folks can’t be six feet apart.
- Social distance by staying at least six feet away from other people at all times.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap. Do this after touching community items like sports gear, craft supplies, high touch surfaces (light switches, remotes, keys, etc.), and before eating.
- Try to remain in the same pod of people to reduce exposure to the virus.
- If you feel sick, stay home. We all love to share, but we don’t love to share germs.
Summer Camp Safety Levels
The CDC has created a handy guide to help camps and parents understand the various risk levels from low to high based on attendance and activities. Here is what the CDC outlines on their website:
- Lowest Risk: Small groups of campers stay together all day, each day. Campers remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects. Outdoor activities are prioritized. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., city, town, county, community).
- More Risk: Campers mix between groups but remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects. Outdoor activities are prioritized. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
- Even More Risk: Campers mix between groups and do not remain spaced apart. All campers are from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
- Highest Risk: Campers mix between groups and do not remain spaced apart. All campers are not from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
Maintaining Safe Areas
The CDC has specific recommendations for how to keep community spaces safe for everyone. To see the full list, go here. A few highlights for parents to consider include:
- Staff should regularly schedule cleaning and disinfecting of all communal areas.
- Discourage sharing objects that cannot be easily disinfected and cleaned by camp staff.
- Kids should bring food from home, if possible. And all kids should eat in separate spaces or in their small group if they have a pod.
- During swimming, campers should sign up in staggard times to prevent crowding in lines, reduce the risk of spreading the virus in the locker rooms and bathrooms, and maintain social distancing of six or more feet when in the water.
Most camps will have websites with their Covid prevention plans listed.
If you have questions or concerns, call them up and ask to speak to the staff.
Summer 2021 won’t be an unhinged spring break, but it will feel like the closest thing to normal that anyone has had in more than a year.
And honestly, after the turbulence of the 2020/2021 school year, being able to look forward to something as sweet and traditional as summer camp is just the balm our kids’ hearts need.