Emerging studies suggest that children are not super-spreaders of COVID-19. What does that mean for sleep-away camps this summer?
In today’s temporary new normal, we find ourselves weighing risks and benefits when it comes to COVID-19. More importantly, we want to protect our loved ones, specifically: seniors, children, and those with pre-existing conditions. There are new developments everyday about the virus. Judgements must be made on safe operations of different industries and businesses.
As schools reopen, researchers are beginning to analyze the influence schools have on community spread. With summer just around the corner, parents are looking for answers and for confidence in the summer camp experience their children desperately need.
Here are 6 things you should know about sleep-away camps this summer:
1. Camp programs thrive in the outdoors. COVID-19 doesn’t.
Health experts agree that moving outdoors greatly reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19. Businesses are already moving their operations outside as much as possible to help curb the spread. Camp activities naturally take place outdoors!
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2. Camp is an insular community, highly controlled and self contained.
Given sleep-away camps’ residential nature, all activities take place on campus including daytime programming, food service, sleeping arrangements, and special events. Unlike a city or town, camps benefit from internalizing all operations, by creating a "bubble" and essentially closing off to the outside world. This means that if campers are tested before entering, camp functions as a self-sufficient remote location away from the virus. Furthermore, there is no risk of “bringing the virus home” like at school, given the residential nature of camp.
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3. A new study from Duke University suggests that children are not super-spreaders of COVID-19.
According to Sallie Permar, Professor of Pediatrics and Immunology at Duke University School of Medicine, “The fear that you’d have one infected kid come to school, and then you’d have many other kids and teachers and relatives [at home] get infected — that hasn’t happened.” It’s also clear, according to the CDC, that children are less likely to suffer severe symptoms from COVID-19, and deaths among children are very rare. Not only that, but children are also less likely to spread the virus to adults because "children may not generate aerosols as effectively as older children and adults when they cough, sneeze, or breathe,” according to Matthew Kelly, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke who co-authored the study.
4. Camps have dedicated medical staff and health centers.
Camps are highly prepared to deal with viruses, as they have done in the past. Camps have separate facilities where campers and staff could isolate if necessary. There are multiple registered nurses and an on-site medical doctor who can help monitor and treat medical issues as they arise. Summer camps remained open during the 1918 flu pandemic, having served as a safer environment for children than congested cities.
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5. People are the bread and butter of camp, not just the activities.
Memorable moments around the campfire are not made because of the fire, it’s really all about bunkmates, friends, and amazing counselors. No matter the specific circumstances, one thing is for sure: camp will still be fun, exciting, and most importantly, memorable! Although camps anticipate major advancements in vaccine distribution, COVID-19 testing, and other health objectives, camps will always continue to serve campers in the same important ways they always have.
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6. Camp during a pandemic is no longer uncharted territory.
Many camps in Maine, Wisconsin, and other states that were permitted to open in 2020 did so successfully with permission from the state government. As more information is available in recent months about how to manage the virus, camps are confident in their ability to mirror the operations of these successful sessions in 2020, as a worst-case scenario. Of course, with new treatments, technologies, and vaccines, camps are optimistic that there will be a level of “normal” in 2021.
As summer 2021 approaches around the corner, camps are gearing up for another amazing summer in nature, filled with fun, and lasting memories! Your child will thrive at camp!
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