Children make cherished memories at summer camp, where many youngsters first discover passions and hobbies they will enjoy for the rest of their lives.
Summer 2020 was a camp season unlike any other. Some camps closed their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while others downsized their offerings in an effort to keep campers safe while still providing them with a much-needed outlet. As the 2021 summer camp season approaches, parents may be a little less hesitant about sending their kids to camp than they were a year ago. The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has helped millions of people return to some semblance of normalcy, and that rollout has put summer camp back in play for families.
Choosing a summer camp is not always so easy, and it might be especially tricky as the world slowly emerges from the pandemic. The following are some tips for parents as they consider if camp is a good idea this summer.
• Consider your comfort level. It’s understandable if parents are hesitant about sending their youngsters to camp this summer. In fact, some camps may still be closed while others may only offer limited day camps this summer. Parents should consider their comfort levels before enrolling kids in camp. Vaccines have proven effective, but COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, and some regions have yet to vaccinate teenagers. Vaccines also have yet to be offered to children under 16. Parents can ask themselves how comfortable they are sending kids to camp, and if they’re hesitant to do so they can explore their alternatives.
• Ask children if they want to go to camp. Everyone is experiencing some measure of pandemic-related burnout, and that includes kids. Kids may be sick of wearing masks at school all day and, even if they have loved camp in the past, may not be looking forward to wearing masks all day at camp this summer. Others might not be experiencing such burnout and may see camp as a way to quell boredom at a time when boredom has seemingly lingered over every day. Either way, solicit kids’ input and let them know their feelings matter regardless of which side of the fence they’re on.
• Inquire about safety protocols. When researching summer camps, ask about the safety protocols each camp will have in place. Will masks be mandatory for both campers and staff? How much direct interaction will campers have with each other? Have staff members been vaccinated? What measures are being taken to keep kids safe? Camps should have detailed protocols and share those protocols with parents upon request.
• Ask about alternatives. If parents and/or children are hesitant about attending camp in person, ask camp officials if there will be any virtual events or programs this summer. Some camps may be organizing activities like craft projects online, and that can help kids overcome the boredom of being stuck at home all summer.
Summer camps may not be fully back to normal in 2021. However, families likely won’t have to go without access to summer camps for the second consecutive summer.