After over a year of the global health crisis, many parents and their children are wondering if we’ll have summer camp in 2021. In 2020, summer camps were shut down or turned into virtual events. This had economic and psychological effects on many people. Staff at summer camps lost their jobs. Children were hurt by the closure of summer camps and as wonderful as virtual summer camps may have been, they really don’t replace the real thing. As for parents, they were left scrambling to find alternatives to keep their kids occupied. Will summer camps make a comeback this year? Let’s investigate!
According to the American Camp Association (ACA), which serves over 15,000 camps across the country, summer camps are a $26 billion industry. They have been a ritual of early youth for decades. Summer camp is a retreat from urban life, an adventure outdoors that every child remembers fondly. Sun-kissed children frolic in the grass and breathe in the fresh air and take in the marvels of nature’s scenery. They get to make new friends, learn skills they would otherwise have never learnt, and experience life in the outdoors. It’s no wonder the industry is such big business.
In 2020, this bliss and beauty of summer camp was crushed by the harsh reality of the global pandemic. During the summer camp of 2020, only 18% of overnight summer camps were in operation. Of those summer camps that were open, many struggled with Covid-19 infections. Thankfully, restrictions on summer camps have been lifted and the outlook in 2021 is much more optimistic.
With the success of the vaccine rollout and greater education regarding how to combat the Covid-19 virus, we should have a summer camp in 2021. Summer camp organizers have been educated about the importance of social distancing, and, according tot the Centre for Disease Control, evidence suggests that you are less likely to contract Covid-19 while in the outdoors. The ACA has reviewed evidence and concurs with the findings of the CDC, and finds that it is possible to hold safe summer camps.
The secret to safety is in following all the hard-learned safety protocols of the pandemic. Not only will social distancing be necessary, but children and staff will have to wear masks. Finally, children should be organized in small groups to reduce the risk of infection. One layer of protection on its own may not be enough to stop the spread of Covid-19, but taken together, these simple modifications can result in safe summer camps. You can think of it as an onion strategy: enough layers and Covid-19 can’t get through.
So, there will be modifications to routines, but we can be reasonably confident that it will be a safe summer camp season. There’s no reason why you can’t sign up for an overnight summer camp right now. The field guide for summer camps will largely be the same as those defined by the YMCA last year. That field guide has recently been revised and updated for 2021. One reason is because of the vaccine rollout. The vaccine rollout has necessitated a new section covering the subject. It looks as if in 2021, summer camp organizers are much better prepared and the conditions for success are there.