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  • Writer's pictureJBird

Please, Mom, I want to go to camp!

Camps across the country are scrambling to make decisions about summer 2020, impacting an estimated 20 million children in the US and their families. Most camps are waiting on guidance from state health authorities to determine whether they will be able to operate, and what concessions will need to be made to keep things safe amid the Covid-19 crisis. Those camps that do open will look very different this year, with enhanced safety and health screening measures, increased efforts to maintain appropriate distancing, and limited group sizes. Due to these challenges, as well as significant questions about operations and funding, some camps have already made the difficult decision to cancel this year's programs.

The idea that your favorite camp, or perhaps your first camp experience, may be cancelled is a dreadful proposition, not only for the youngsters who look forward to their own time away, joining friends on new and unique adventures, but for entire families grappling with what to do with the kids this summer. This can be particularly challenging for single-parent households or families where both parents work. And it's not just overnight camps. Sports camps and other programs that depend on groups of kids connecting are facing the challenge of "can we still offer some sort of effective programming while still maintaining the safety of our participants?" Some programs are getting creative and will offer online and virtual options, which frankly doesn't really feel like camp, but it allows for a social connection of sorts. Out of school and lacking the myriad options that a typical summer promises, this year is already presenting challenges the likes of which none of us has ever experienced. We're all going to need to be patient and think outside the box - WAY outside the box - as we try to plan the best possible summer opportunities for our kids.

On May 15 the American Camp Association joined with other national organizations to publish parent resources designed to help families navigate these challenges and make educated decisions about this summer. Whatever happens, whatever decisions are made by individual camps, perhaps the challenges we all face this summer will also bring exciting opportunities. Opportunities we never would have imagined in any other year. Opportunities to get creative and connect with our kids in new ways, opportunities to create memories and bring families closer. What will YOU do?

Social distancing at summer camp
Campers keeping their distance on a hike

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