Considerations Before Reopening Overnight Camps
During these unprecedented times, overnight camp leaders need to make difficult decisions about the upcoming camp season, including if, how and when to open. While there are currently more questions than answers for camps in the face of coronavirus (COVID-19), this resource is intended to provide information on risk considerations in the camp reopening conversation.
We know the safety of your campers and staff is always your top priority. With the highly-transmittable nature of COVID-19, despite your best efforts to enforce social distancing, temperature checks, wearing face masks, etc., the threat of spreading the disease remains very high. When that happens, will you be able to respond in a way consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? What impact will that have on the future operation of your camp?
Consider the following:
- Opening for overnight camp should be considered only when it is lawful to do so under the public health orders and regulations in place in your state.
- Beyond what is lawful, carefully consider what is safe. Understand and follow voluntary guidance for camps established by federal, state or local authorities as well as authoritative sources such as the CDC and the American Camping Association (ACA).
Additional safeguards for overnight camps
Advise families to self-assess symptoms for all family members for 14 days prior to camp. If any family member has any symptoms in that period, do not come to camp.
- Advise families to self-assess symptoms for all family members for 14 days prior to camp. If any family member has any symptoms in that period, do not come to camp.
- Require parents to remain in their vehicles when dropping off and picking up campers.
- If campers are bussed in, social distancing must be maintained on the buses.
- All campers and staff must be screened when they arrive.
- Institute morning and evening temperature checks for all campers and staff.
- Have a designated and isolated area for anyone exhibiting a fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, etc.
- Verify that your local health services have the capacity to test and process results for the entire camp community at once.
- Stock sufficient cleaning and protective supplies and materials for the 2020 camp season.
- Have a plan in place that, if a camper or staff member is confirmed having the disease, a thorough cleaning of the facilities can be completed. Close off areas used by the affected individual and do not use these areas until after cleaning and disinfecting them. If possible, wait at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting.
- If a sick camper or staff member needs medical attention beyond what you can provide, have a plan in place with your local health services to pick them up.
- If a sick camper or staff member is required to go home based on state or local requirements, or they request to go home after a period of isolation and observation, have a plan in place to address sending them back to their home community.
- If your camp is required to close, develop a plan to communicate and coordinate the decision to close camp with the parents, staff and local health officials.
- Develop a contingency plan in the event a critical staff member (e.g., nurse, food service, maintenance, etc.) is quarantined so you will be able to replace them in a timely manner.
- Have a plan for maintaining social distancing for the following:
- Sleeping – head to toe in bunks.
- Dining – smaller groups, clean and disinfect after each group.
- Other group activities – maintain the same groups through the entire time, do not mix groups.
- Contact all vendors to ensure adequate supplies of food, protective equipment, hand sanitizer, etc.
- All deliveries and non-campers should only visit during camp change-over (when no campers are present).
- Space camper stays to have at least one day between for disinfection of all camp buildings and equipment after all previous campers have left and all non-camp visitors have come and gone.
The items above in no way constitute a complete list of considerations, but we hope that it will give you a sense of the possible – and perhaps, probable – outcomes of moving forward with camp this season. The challenges you are likely to face are immense and without precedent.
Youth Programs and Camps Decision Chart
CDC’s Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps
CDC’s Caring for Someone Sick
CDC’s Interim guidance for Schools and Day Camps (pages 45-52)
Field Guide for Camps on Implementation of CDC Guidance
Federal Guidelines for Opening America Up Again
Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility
EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus