Summer camps are a fun getaway for kids and a great way to fill the gap in between school years. Not only will your child gain self-esteem, learn independence and make lifelong friends—they can also cultivate a skill or passion with camp offerings like sports, art, science, music and more!

There is no doubt that camp will look very different this year. The good news is that there are organizations who are experts (like the American Camp Association and the YMCA of the USA) and they have worked together on resources for day and overnight camps. These resources supplement local guidelines to help keep campers and staff safe.

If you’re considering sending your child to camp, you can expect to see that safety is the focus. Your camp’s webpage should have specific information about their new protocols.

Choose a Safe Format

According to the CDC, the safest format is a small group of campers that stay together all day, each day. They stay 6-feet apart, don’t share objects and participate in mostly outdoor activities. It’s also recommended that all campers are from the same geographic area.

What to Expect at Camp

There will be a LOT of cleaning. Equipment and shared surfaces will be wiped down in-between groups. In fact, some camps may require campers to bring their own gear such as racquets, balls and art supplies.

Hand-washing and hand-sanitizing will be part of the daily program along with facial coverings, social distancing, staggered drop-off and pick-up times and staggered meals.

How to Prepare Your Child

If your child is not used to seeing people in masks (or wearing one themselves) you can help them to be more comfortable. Use the simplest words you can to explain why masks are important for example, “masks protect us from germs so we don’t get sick,” and then give them ample time to ask questions.

Some kids will have little or no reaction to masks and may even enjoy choosing one that is a favorite color or character. If your child is cautious, take them out in your community where people are wearing masks and give them time to look around. This will help them realize that masks are simply part of life today and they will be less likely to “freak out” when their camp staff and friends are in masks.

With all of that said, consider that every year, nearly 20 million children, adolescents and adults enjoy the nearly 14,000 camps across the country.  Summer camp is a magical time for youth and it provides much-needed respite and daycare for working adults. Plus, experts have been working hard since stay-at-home orders started to plan for a safe camp season.

Yes. This summer camp season will be unique with creative solutions like shorter sessions, more outdoor activities and even virtual options. Make the best choice for you and your family and be sure you get an equipment list from your camp provider so that you and your child are prepared. It won’t look like this forever.

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