Questions to Ask Camp Directors Amid a Pandemic
When considering summer camp for your child, it’s always important to ask key questions about the program and safety procedures before deciding which camp will become your child’s home away from home for years to come. Questions often range from inquiring about the session length, the swim program or how many children are in a bunk. However, amid a global pandemic, you are certain to have many questions regarding COVID this year. The good news for parents is that both day and overnight camps ran successfully last summer and were able to mitigate the risk of COVID so children could have both a safe and rewarding summer at camp. Here are some questions you might want to ask the camp director when doing your camp research this year:
- Can you explain what changes you are making at camp this summer to keep campers safe?
If you are researching a camp now, there are many safety procedures that were put in place by camps last summer that will remain for 2021 summer, however, with the pandemic changing month to month, there are some changes that won’t be known until closer to this summer. Camps ran successfully in 2020 with safety procedures to mitigate the risk of COVID such as small group cohorts, daily health screenings, additional hand washing/sanitizing, increased sanitizing of facilities and the camp program running mostly outdoors. Although camp looked a little different, the fundamentals of what makes camp so special for children remained the same.
- How can I get to know the camp before registering?
Even amid the pandemic, there are many ways to see the camp and get to know the camp director. Day camps offer tours throughout the year and can do so socially distanced. Many overnight camps will offer families the opportunity to visit camp this spring as the weather warms up. Camp directors are also happy to set up Zoom calls or do an outdoor home visit in your backyard or apartment building’s courtyard.
- What are the procedures if a staff member or child tests positive for COVID?
Based on last summer, if a camper or staff member tests positive for COVID, the camp will report it to the local health department. If at day camp, the camp will notify the camp community and let you know if your child was exposed and needs to quarantine. Overnight camps used testing last year before campers and staff arrived at camp and then a few days after they arrived. If a test came back positive once at camp, those exposed in the cohort would quarantine and testing would be done. It’s important to note that there were very few positive cases of COVID at both day and overnight camps in the northeast.
- If COVID vaccines are available, will you require them for this year?
It’s too soon to tell when a vaccine will be available for children and young adults. Camps will work with their local and state health departments as vaccine information becomes available.
- What is your camp’s refund policy?
This has become an important question that more and more people are asking of all businesses since COVID hit in spring last year. Before choosing a camp, it’s important to understand their refund policy and what date you have until to ask for your money back or to roll it over to the following year.
- How do you handle separation anxiety after a year of remote learning at home?
A good camp director will meet your child where they are and are focused on the social-emotional well-being of every child at camp. In 2020, many children came to camp with anxiety from being home from school and not socializing with others for an extended period of time. The good news is that camp directors said it took just a few days of being at camp for children to adjust.
- Will you require testing before camp?
Testing in 2021 is going to look different than it did in 2020. For overnight camp, parents can assume that some kind of testing will take place.
- Will my child have to wear a mask at camp?
Last summer, children at day camp didn’t need to wear masks, unless social distancing couldn’t be maintained. Overnight campers wore masks when around other cohorts and also when social distancing couldn’t be maintained. It is too early to tell what the mask policy will be but one year later, however, mask-wearing has become more common place than it was last June and children have become accustomed to wearing them daily.
- What kind of screening process is done at camp to make sure staff and campers are healthy?
Both day and overnight camps required daily health screenings each day with questions asked about your child’s health and temperatures being taken either at home, at camp, or sometimes both.
- Are there activities that will be eliminated because of COVID?
With COVID, certain contact sports and activities needed to be eliminated last summer. Many camps also didn’t do field trips or inter-camp games to prevent exposure to many people. It is too early to tell what activities will need to change for 2021 but camps offer dozens of activities and if a camp needs to make some changes to keep staff and campers safe, there are so many other amazing activities to participate in. Camps that ran in 2020 reported that even with some changes, it was probably the best summer they ever had because children needed camp so much after months spent at home.
Sunday, January 31 @ 10am, Tuesday, February 2 @ 5pm