Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Children, camps and COVID-19: What parents should know

March 24, 2021

Thinking about camp for your child this summer? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has answers to questions about camper health and safety and COVID-19.

Summer camp can help kids reconnect with the world around them. They can make friends, learn new skills and spend time outdoors. A camp that matches your child’s needs can build self-esteem and create lasting memories, according to the AAP.

The AAP urges parents to talk with their pediatrician before choosing a camp. Your pediatrician can make sure your child is up to date on vaccines and can help you decide if camp is a safe option based on your child’s medical history.

Choose a camp that follows health and safety guidelines from local health experts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Camp Association and the AAP. Sports camps also should follow local and state guidance on competitive athletics.

Camps should have plans for:

  • wearing masks, hand hygiene and physical distancing,
  • what to do if a camper or staff member gets sick,
  • working with local health officials and
  • testing, contact tracing and quarantine.

Camps might use COVID-19 tests to decide who can return to camp, notify families if a camper was exposed or decide if a camp should be closed. A camper with a negative test on the first day may not remain negative throughout camp.

A diagnostic COVID-19 test can be useful when a camper or a staff member had a known exposure to COVID-19, or is showing coronavirus symptoms. In these cases, test results can help guide decisions such as who can return to camp safely, when to notify families whose children may have been exposed, or whether the camp should be closed.

COVID-19 antibody blood test results should not be used to guide decisions about attending or staying home from camps. Antibody tests only show if someone had the virus at one point in time. They can’t identify someone who has an active infection without symptoms, for example. Also, a camper who is negative for COVID-19 on the first day of camp may not remain negative throughout the camp session.

Testing can be one tool to help limit the spread of COVID-19. It should not replace masks, physical distancing and hand hygiene, according to the AAP.

Finally, the AAP urges families to think about their child’s emotional and behavioral needs. After a stressful school year, some campers might need extra support from a camp staff member trained in children’s mental health.

Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal