Reopening: Summer Camp Safety!

Categories: General News, Other, Our Perspective

Every summer, kids look forward with excitement to camp, and some parents rely on the experiences so they can work while school is out.

A diverse group of teenagers sit together on a fence, smiling at the camera. Summer Camp Safety.While COVID-19 is still a concern, it’s clear that summertime activities like camp will look a little different than usual. This year, some camps are not opening at all, while some are – and others will be offering “virtual camp” opportunities.

When making a choice, it’s important to not only make sure the camp is following the CDC and local government guidelines for health and safety during a pandemic, but also to check-in on their child protection policy and see what changes may be in effect due to any new regulations.

Below are some tips for making sure camps are prepared to keep campers safe from abuse:

  • Reach out to the camp and ask about their Code of Conduct and if there are any updates due to procedural changes, i.e. number of campers to counselor ratio. How will those changes impact their ability to minimize one-on-one interactions?
  • Since they may be limiting the number of visitors, including parents, into the cabin or even on camp property, is there another way you can see the space to look for ways to minimize opportunity? Maybe a virtual tour?
  • For overnight camps, what will the sleeping arrangements be? If campers will sleep 6 feet apart, how many kids and counselors will be in the cabin? Will it be smaller groups?
  • Will there be any physical barriers (sheets, etc.) between sleepers who can’t be 6 ft. apart? If so, how will staff make sure the sleeping situations are not isolated and can still be observable?
  • Talk to your kids about different scenarios to help them feel comfortable with facing the unforeseen. Get creative and think of new scenarios that may take place in camp environments. Playing the “What If” game can help.
  • With all the new procedures staff will undertake, are they required to be trained in child sexual abuse prevention & reporting? How are they vetted?
  • For virtual camps, digital safety is key. What are the rules and procedures put in place to keep kids safe online? See our Safe Online Experience Guide.
  • Be sure to check-in with your kids before, during, and after camp to see how they are feeling, what they learned, and what they did. Simple questions can open up lines of communication that can help kids feel comfortable to share.

Grab your free guide to help you find more questions to ask and other tips for preparing your kids to be away from home.

Additional Resources:

Safety at Summer Camp
Protecting Children During a Crisis Training
Praesidium Resources for Day Camps & Residential Camps
American Camp Association & the YMCA of the USA Camp Operations Guide 2020


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