The American Camp Association (ACA) and the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) announce the release of Camp Operations Guide – Summer 2020, a groundbreaking educational resource developed to support day and overnight summer camp operations this summer. 

ACA and Y-USA engaged Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc. (EH&E), a Boston-based consulting firm specializing in environmental health, to convene an independent expert panel of specialists to create this educational resource. The panel included support from the Association of Camp Nursing and specialists in pediatric medicine, epidemiology, infectious disease management, biological safety, industrial hygiene, organizational design, and other technical specialties. 

This resource outlines leading practices for day and overnight camps, state and local health departments, and parents/guardians of campers to assist all parties in making informed summer camp decisions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 20 million children attend camp each summer in the United States for the opportunity to gain important life skills, prevent summer learning loss, take a break from technology, and try new activities in an outdoor environment. Camp additionally provides essential care and supervision for working parents during the summer months.

ACA and Y-USA emphasize that camps must adapt swiftly to meet the emerging needs of children of the COVID-19 era, and that campers, parents, and camp staff should expect widespread changes, such as daily temperature checks, smaller family-like groups, new dining and bunking strategies to protect physical distancing, and staggered arrivals/departures, among others.

Each individual camp will require robust resources to operate as the best public health partner possible. The field of camp is very diverse. Camps are spread out geographically and program designs vary widely from one camp to another, including session length, activities, camper audience, focus, and proximity to medical providers. All camps operating this summer will be different, but their positive and lasting impact on the lives of children will remain. 

Ultimately, state and local boards of health are responsible for setting and governing the operational parameters for day and overnight camps in their jurisdictions. This resource is designed to allow camps and state and local boards of health to work together to determine how each unique camp can meet the critical needs of their community this summer.

Stay tuned: ACA’s mission is to be a leading voice for child development. This coronavirus pandemic has changed the world and will continue to change children in profound ways. That is why ACA is launching several landmark studies this summer to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on children, families, and camps. Study findings will be announced in the fall.