Camps have been diligent in preparing for a safe camp environment this summer, but the COVID19 pandemic with all its variants, is not over just yet. Here are some tips and questions to ask as you select the perfect “safe” camp for your family. It's just as important for you to feel comfortable if you're deciding to send your child to camp.
Tips and questions to ask:
1. Review the GUIDELINES to understand what is expected. NJDOH 2021 Covid19 Youth Summer Cap Standards Guidelines came out on April 28, 2021. You’ll be able to fully understand what camps must do versus what is recommended, and ask yourself what you can do with or without. Since there are many recommendations, each camp may vary on their policies, some may take a more conservative stance on masking for instance than others.
2. Read up on the individual camp safety policies, most will be found on the camp website. Otherwise, ask to see their safe practices policies since all Camps must document this in writing.
3. Speak directly to the camp director or staff. Maybe take a tour onsite. Larger camps will have a professional who is designated as the camp’s COVID19 point of contact, and have been trained per CDC guidelines. Understand how they monitor the COVID19 activity report.
4. Ask about outdoors vs Indoors activities? Since outdoor activities are largely encouraged, find out the percentage spent outdoors vs indoors? In the event adverse weather conditions do not permit outdoor activities, find out about their indoor facility. What procedures are in place for proper social distancing when transitioning from outdoors to indoors. If it’s an indoor camp, ask about their outdoor access.
5. What is the staff to camper ratio? Currently the guidelines state staff to camper ratios of 1 adult:1counselor: 20 campers (ages 5-17) and 1 adult:1 counselor: 14 campers (ages 2.5-4 yrs). Understand cohort ratios.
6. Ask about mealtime and how they stagger mealtime to ensure cohorts remain intact.
7. What is the camp’s specific mask policy? Camps are required to mandate campers to wear masks with indoors activities, while not with outdoor activities unless it's not possible to socially distance. Some camps are adopting a more conservative mask policy and require masks at all times.
8. Ask about breaks throughout the day?
9. Will the camp hold field trips and off-site activities? While these activities are not prohibited, they are discouraged. Find out where, and how they will conduct.
10. For high risk and special needs populations, ask your primary care provider and the camp director to determine if camp is a reasonably safe option.
11. Finally, don’t forget to match your child’s interests with the activities of the camp. Are you looking for a classic or traditional day camp that offers an abundance of activities? A Sleep-away camp that will offer more independence away from home? Or special interest camp that focuses on specific activities?
Do consider the risks versus rewards of sending your child to camp. The American Camp Association offers additional questions to ask.