Many parents struggled to place their kids in summer camps last year, as many of them were canceled. This year, as businesses and services have reopened, camps are once again looking like a good option for child care and entertainment over the long, hot summer.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has provided updated guidance for operating youth camps, promoting vaccination and providing information on choosing safer activities. While individual camps will decide which campers to accept, they must all adhere to the standards determined by the state or province. U.S. residents can check their governor’s website for required summer camp protocols. The American Camping Association (ACA) accredits camps based on accountability, credibility, and commitment. The YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) offers camps through local YMCAs across the U.S. In Canada, check with the Canadian Camping Association. They encourage campers and camp professionals to look to their local Provincial Camping Association and Provincial Health Authority for the most up-to-date information.
The BBB offers these tips to parents searching for the right summer camp:
- Check for accreditation. Regardless of pandemic-related issues, the safest way to ensure your child’s safety is to send them to a trustworthy camp. ACA accredited camps must meet the 32 national summer camp standards, and BBB accreditation requires the organization meet eight standards of trust. Search for camps in the ACA and find camps near you in the BBB Directory to check for accreditation.
- Know required safety standards. Individual states will provide health and safety guidelines for summer camps, following CDC recommendations. These protocols may include measures such as monitoring health of staff and campers, limiting visitor access to campgrounds, adapting meal distribution and providing sanitation products to staff and campers.
- Use references. Ask if they have a list of references or past campers you can contact. You may also want to consider asking trusted friends or family their recommendations for summer camps. Reviews and complaint histories can also be found on the camp’s business profile at BBB.org.
- Assess medical resources. Camps should have resources for treating sick and injured campers. Ask about the camp’s medical facilities and how those resources can accommodate potential COVID-19 situations, should they arise.
- Review contracts and fees. As always, you should review contracts before you sign them. Find out the total cost and if a deposit is required. See which activities or services require additional fees. You should also check for details regarding refunds. If that information is not outlined in the contract, ask a camp employee.
Find a summer camp near you at BBB.org.
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