YMCA, American Camp Association Release Guide For Opening Summer Camps

Another key concept is “cohorts,” or “households.” The field guide suggests grouping campers and counselors in as small a group as possible for all daily activities involving close contact. Some state guidelines set this maximum at 10 campers. The idea is not only to limit spread, but also, should a case be identified, to be able to quickly trace that person’s contacts.

Many of the document’s recommendations would make it much more expensive to operate a camp. (Think: smaller groups, more frequent cleaning, providing enough equipment like life preservers so that campers don’t have to share.) Paul McEntire, chief operations officer of the YMCA, tells NPR, “I am aware of some Y camps that have made basically a business decision that it’s better to forego this summer, cut expenses way back and be prepared for next year.”

On the other hand, Gregg Hunter, president and CEO of the Christian Camp and Conference Association, says some camp directors are determined to open. “They’ve told me, ‘If they say we can open for 10 kids, we will have 10 kids,’ because they know kids need camp and they want to provide that service for them.”

Many summer camps, including day camps run by the YMCA, are hoping to reopen, even if on a delayed schedule. A partial list includes camps in Arizona, Connecticut, Texas, Montana, Colorado, New York, Vermont. Other camps have cancelled summer programs all together.

With tens of millions of Americans out of work, many families can no longer afford summer camp. And even for those who can, it’s unclear whether parents will feel comfortable sending kids to camp. An unscientific poll by Slate found 83% of respondents would not feel comfortable sending their child to sleepaway camp, and 66% said no to day camp.

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