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

Feature Story

April 2021

Nation's Pediatricians Provide New Guidance on Summer Camp Safety

Summer is on its way, and in 2021, summer camp and day camp programs can provide a welcome opportunity for kids to engage in outdoor sports, play and connect with friends, and take part in creative activities that have been on hold for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To guide parents, camp directors and pediatricians in creating safe camp environments, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued newly updated interim guidance to help protect the health of camp attendees, staff and the community at large.

"We know children benefit greatly from spending time with other children, engaging in outdoor activities, playing, sharpening their mental skills and finding creative outlets," said Sara Bode, M.D., FAAP, a member of the AAP Council on School Health, which authored the guidance. "The pandemic shut down much of that important socialization and activity, and parents likely are eager to send their children to summer camp so they can begin to regain some normalcy. When camps closely follow safety protocols, this can be a safe option."

New information has emerged to guide safety procedures in camp settings. Evidence has shown there is limited transmission of the virus among children and staff in controlled settings when safety protocols are followed, including wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, and the enhanced cleaning and disinfection of surfaces.

The greater availability of local testing and the longer planning period that camps have had to adjust their facilities and programming will also help more camps open safely in 2021. The updated guidance reflects this new knowledge and is intended for pediatricians and families as they make informed decisions on sending children to overnight/sleepaway or day camp during summer 2021.

Camp directors should be vigilant in implementing and enforcing state, local and CDC guidance, and should maintain good communication with families and campers regarding the expectation for the use of masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene and other COVID-19 mitigation strategies, especially the requirement to remain home when ill and reporting to the camp any COVID-19 exposure or a positive test result. It is important to note that the vast majority of children, even those with medical conditions, are able to safely and effectively wear face masks with adequate practice and support, as well as modeling from adults.

The group camp environment can be a challenging place to maintain some of these protocols, but the commitment of camp operators and the community to support safe camp opening is important for child health and well-being.

Visit to learn more. And to read our recent interview with American Camp Association President & CEO Tom Rosenberg on all the ways the camp industry has adapted over the past year, visit

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