Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

September 2020

CDC Study Examines Successful Overnight Camp Strategies from 2020

A new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examined how four overnight summer camps in Maine were able to operate safely and successfully without the spread of COVID-19 over the summer.

Integral to these camps’ success was a multilayered, nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPI) strategy that reflects adherence to measures outlined in the American Camp Association’s educational resource, “A Field Guide for Camps on Implementation of CDC Guidance.” Each of the NPIs provides a limited layer of protection, but when implemented collectively in a consistent and diligent manner by a camp’s entire community, including campers, staff members and camp parents and guardians, they create a culture of compliance that can prevent and mitigate the transmission of disease.

“This study of more than 1,000 camp attendees shows promising data that overnight camps can operate safely in the era of COVID-19,” said lead study author Laura Blaisdell, M.D./MPH, FAAP. “With this foundational information, we look forward to ACA convening wider studies investigating the experience of more diverse camp experiences this year.”

“While safety was the foundation for a successful summer, the camp experience teaches children social-emotional skills for 21st-century learning and leadership,” added Tom Rosenberg, president and CEO of the American Camp Association (ACA). “These skills are paramount to persevering in a time of pandemic and beyond.”

Blaisdell highlighted the fact that the four participant camps did not restrict attendance from any part of the country or globally. The study’s findings demonstrate that a multilayered public health prevention and mitigation strategy in an overnight camp setting can identify and control COVID-19 transmission, regardless of the prevalence of the virus in campers and staff arriving from various communities.

“This summer, more than 3,000 day and overnight camps ran, serving kids and families in need of fun and engaging time outdoors with friends,” Rosenberg said. “Camp provided much-needed time away from technology, with opportunities to thrive socially, emotionally and physically in a year marked with isolation and unprecedented challenges for every family. Camp was truly the unsung hero of summer 2020 for every kid able to attend.”

ACA also announced four upcoming research studies focused on camp practices and programs that continued to provide safe and engaging experiences this summer by following the ACA’s educational resources.

“Looking ahead to school this fall, the upcoming research will support educators and after-school programs adhering to ACA’s Field Guide’s suggested practices,” Rosenberg said. “Applying multiple layers of NPIs and leaning into a culture of compliance, even without testing and bubbling, can help any school or organization that brings children together while mitigating spread of the virus.

“The primary goal of this research is to identify effective practices so that more camps will offer in-person day and overnight programming for summer 2021, ensuring children receive the life-changing camp experiences they need and deserve,” Rosenberg said, adding that the CDC report represents positive news for the coming year.

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