Keeping children safe at summer camps amidst coronavirus

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Summer camp swimming

This image released by Forest Lake Camp shows swimmers and kayakers on the lake at the camp in Warrensburg, N.Y. (Forest Lake Camp / AP)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)-After spending months homebound during New York on Pause, kids, parents, and caregivers may be looking forward to the interaction provided through summer camps. So, how can parents/caregivers keep their children safe at summer camps?

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) guidelines for summer camps suggest that all camp counselors and older children wear a face mask. Younger children should be encouraged, not required to wear one. It is not recommended for children under the age of two, or those with medical conditions where it would make breathing difficult.

In the 15-page guidance from DOH they have recommendations for camp size, cleaning/disinfecting procedures, social distancing, food, and water activities. What should a parent or caregiver do if their child(ren) are fearful of going to a camp?

Parents/caregivers learning how to manage anxiety related to the coronavirus is instrumental in helping children also manage their anxiety, says the Child Mind Institute. “Talking to children in a clear, reasonable way about what’s going on is the best way to help them understand,” says Clinical Psychologist at the Child Mind Institute Rachel Busman, PsyD. “But remember kids don’t need to know every little thing.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) agrees, “Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others.” They also say it’s good to encourage children to practice good hygiene and ask questions. Children should be provided with accurate age-appropriate answers the CDC says.

Healthychildren.org suggests asking the following questions before sending a child to a summer camp:

  • How will the camp help children follow coronavirus safety rules?
  • Will most activities be indoors or outside?
  • How will campers move throughout the day at camp?
  • How will campers and staff be monitored for illness?
  • What happens if someone gets sick?
  • Is there camp staff trained on the specific health needs of children?
  • What kind of support is available for campers with special health care needs?
  • How will snacks and meals work?
  • Should my child be tested for COVID-19 before going to camp?
  • What extra steps are being taken at overnight camps?

The CDC’s guidance for summer camps can be found on their website.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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