It’s been a challenging summer for youth summer camps in the United States. The news around the pandemic has been up and down, depending on where you live. Many camps had to close in 2020 (62%, according to figures from CNBC), while others went virtual. Certain areas were fortunate to enjoy in-person programs, modified or abbreviated for local safety guidelines.
What’s true everywhere is that uncertainty lingers about the future. Most camps will turn an optimistic eye to next year—that much is certain. But what will safe summer camps look like moving forward? As a parent, uncertain times present a few issues:
- Is there an easy way to tell which camps are open or closed as you evaluate options?
- Where are the most up-to-date summer camp lists with current policies and status info?
- What kinds of youth summer camps should you be looking for in terms of safety?
Let’s take a quick look at each of these subjects.
How to Find Summer Camps That Are Open
In part, this will depend on which state you live. Each state has been left to decide for themselves if, when, and how summer camps are permitted to operate
Texas, for example, safely and strategically reopened summer camps in mid-May. With the state’s blessing, it became up to the individual camps to evaluate whether they were comfortable or capable of operating in this environment. Other states, like New York, closed all sleepaway camps for the summer of 2020 but allowed day camps to reopen as of June 29th under the observance of strict precautions.
If your state allows camps to operate, the next step is to check individual camp websites (via camp directories and other online summer camp lists) for updates. Many compilations of top-rated summer camps that were open in a virtual or in-person capacity also made the rounds on blogs and social media in the late spring and early summer.
Up-To-Date Summer Camp Lists
A lot of summer camp listings are simple passive collections of camp names with links to their websites. The problem is that many of these lists are outdated, unmaintained, and contain no information relevant to the camp’s current status.
The best place to find up-to-date summer camp lists is an active camp directory that’s filterable by parent preferences, region, interest area, age group, and also includes a detailed profile of every camp. For example, Camps With Friends is free to use and easy to search for safe summer camps that are open right in your area.
Current Summer Camp Guidelines For Safety
Virtual camps will be the safest, for sure...but they do mean staying inside, or at least at home, and including more screens in the summer camp experience. If you’re ready to get the kids back outside in a social environment, the lowest risk in-person camps—according to CDC guidelines for summer camp safety—are the ones where:
“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).”
To play it safe with outdoor programs, take a closer look at the camps that interest you and see how they’re handling safety precautions on-site. Camps that emphasize these sorts of social distancing policies and small group activities should rise up our lists as we look ahead to next summer, if we hope to keep things healthy, open, and full of summer fun in the sun.