After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave summer day camps in the state the ability to open starting June 29, many families may have eyed the annual summer experiences as a sign that life may be starting to return to normal once again.
And while the state has continued to make tremendous progress in the fight against COVID-19, with infection and death numbers a tiny fraction of what they once were, the camps children will be returning to will have a very different look and feel to them than they may remember from years past.
The camps that open Monday (although some are opening the following week in order to meet new health regulations) are set to have a slew of new precautions and measures they are required to follow in order to keep campers safe. The most obvious change may be just how long the kids are at camp.
According to the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey, many had to push start dates back, and will be offering shortened seasons. Additionally, camps may ask families to commit to having their children come a certain number of weeks, whereas in the past they might offer some flexibility.
Also what may impact the schedule is the potential for rain, the association said. If there is extended or significant rain in the forecast, camps may cancel for the day, as all activities must take place outside. Some places may count in two or three rain days, and will credit families back for any days on top of those.
As for the camps themselves, children can expect smaller group sizes: no more than 15 kids can be in a group, and each group will stay together throughout the entire day. While in the group, social distancing isn't necessary, but cohorts are not allowed to mix.
Some contact-involved activities won't be part of programs this summer as well. In terms of actually getting to the camps, bus transportation may not be offered, and parents may be asked to pick up and drop off their children each day.
Many health precautions may not come as a surprise to parents or camp-goers: children will wash their hands throughout the day, and will be using hand sanitizer. All equipment and facilities will be cleaned and sanitized each day, and temperature checks will be required for children and staff. Some of those checks may happen at the camps themselves, according to the American Camp Association, while others will ask parents to take the temperatures at home and complete a form online before arriving.
There will be no field trips for camps, the association said, and overnight camps are not allowed. However, some of those style of camps may be running family camps, where whole families can go camp for three to five days while enjoying bunking together and other typical activities, like campfires and swimming.