Considering summer camp? Here’s what you need to know
It’s been a long, tough winter. You’re likely looking for safe activities your kids can participate in this summer. But is camp one of them?
Dr. Elaine Rosenfeld, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Advocate Children’s Hospital, weighs in.
“Summer camps can be a chance for children and teens to make friends, learn new skills and spend time outdoors. Kids have missed out on a lot of these opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she says.
Dr. Rosenfeld adds that more than a year into the pandemic, studies show that camps with proper safety steps in place can greatly limit the spread of COVID-19 infections. “Key steps include mask wearing, physical distancing, having smaller groups and cleaning and disinfecting as part of the daily routine,” she says.
Is camp a good idea for kids of all ages?
“There need to be age-appropriate directives in place around things like practicing hand hygiene, staying a safe distance from others and wearing face masks whenever possible and practical,” Dr. Rosenfeld suggests.
She recognizes these can be a challenge – especially for younger campers – so frequent reminders are important.
If summer camp feels like the right choice for your child, what should you look for when choosing one? Dr. Rosenfeld offers the following tips:
- It’s important the camp has outdoor activities with fresh air and room to spread out. This lowers the risk of spreading COVID-19. Being outside also gives children a way to connect with nature, which can boost their physical and mental health after a long, stressful year. However, even when outside, it’s important to avoid sharing germs. Camps should limit shared equipment for games and activities and clean them often.
- In addition to following general safety tips for overnight and day camps, sports camps should follow safety guidance for drills, practices and competitions. This includes local and state rules, which can vary widely.
- Before choosing a camp, talk with your pediatrician to make sure your child is up to date on vaccines. Your pediatrician can help you choose a camp that suits your child’s medical, emotional and behavioral needs while helping them have a healthy, positive experience.
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.