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NY Summer Camps Can Open—and These are the 2021 Safety Guidelines

NY Summer Camps Can Open—and These are the 2021 Safety Guidelines

Here's what parents need to know about New York summer camps opening in 2021

Both day and overnight camps in New York will be open this summer, and there is no doubt that children need camp more than ever after a year of hybrid or remote learning and many missed extracurricular activities. Summer camp provides children with an outdoor learning environment, a break from screens, and the opportunity to socialize with friends face-to-face. Camp also provides essential child care over the summer for working parents. 

Overwhelmingly, day camps that operated last summer in New York, as well as at sleepaway camps in the Northeast, either had no COVID cases or a very limited number of cases that were managed effectively and safely to eliminate the spread. Using guidance from the American Camp Association Field Operation Guide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local Department of Health guidance, day and overnight camps used multilayered protocols that mitigated the introduction and spread of COVID at camp. Plus, many children ages 12 and older and staff members will be vaccinated this year.

What are the safety guidelines NY camps need to follow in 2021?

As we get closer to the start of camp, the New York Department of Health will continue to monitor and evaluate health metrics for camp programs and re-evaluate if necessary, but, as of right now, here's what parents can expect at camp this summer at both day and sleepaway camps in New York:

  • Campers and staff will have daily health screenings before camp.
  • Camps will be divided into stable groups of 36 children or fewer.
  • Social distancing between stable groups of campers will be enforced.
  • Young children and campers do not need to wear face coverings when they are in child care or day camp program facility or area. Older children and campers who are not fully vaccinated are encouraged, but not required, to wear face coverings as feasible.
  • Staff will frequently clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces throughout facilities every day.
  • Activities will be held outside as often as possible.
  • Campers and staff will be encouraged to frequently wash hands.
  • Before arriving at overnight camp, unvaccinated campers and staff must have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of arrival at camp.
  • Overnight campers may remove their masks within their stable group after there are no suspected or positive COVID cases 3-5 days after start of camp. Then, after there are no suspected or positive COVID cases after 10 days of camp, all campers at camp can come together.

Even with some changes to ensure the health and safety of the camp community, parents should know that the fundamentals of summer camp all remain intact. Camp is a place where children gain independence, try different things, and make new friends in a caring and nurturing environment.

Need to find a summer camp for your child this year? Read the 2021 Camp Guide for New York City, Brooklyn, and Queens, Long Island, or Westchester and Rockland. Plus, you can meet dozens of camp directors, learn about programs, and tour facilities by visiting the Virtual Camp Fairs for New York City, Brooklyn, and Queens, Long Island, or Westchester and Rockland.

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Author: Jess Michaels is the director of communications for the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey. She believes every child should have a summer camp experience. See More

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