Where Summer Camps Are Opening and Parents' Safety Checklist

Small camp
Small camp "families" can help keep kids safe this summer. Photo courtesy of Camp Runoia
5/28/20 - By Jessica Laird

Summer camp 2020 is happening!

Yes, it's going to look a little different this year. And, yes, the options will vary from one state to the next. But both day camps and sleepaway camps are starting to get green lights, from Maine to Texas. We've pulled together the info you'll need to make camp choices this summer: Where camps are opening, how they're making it safe, how to find one that fits your needs, and what questions to ask before taking the plunge. 

What States Are Opening Summer Camps?

Currently, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and some counties in California have approved day camps, while Texas, Florida, Arizona, Maine, Vermont, and Rhode Island are allowing both day camps and sleepaway camps to operate. UPDATE: New York State has announced that day camps will be allowed starting June 29. 

Online Summer Camp Fair and Guides

New information is being released daily, and we're doing our best to keep you informed. To find out about camps that are moving forward this summer, register for our upcoming Online Camp Fair. You can attend live panels and info sessions with camps and explore virtual info booths for both online and in-person camps that are in session this summer. You can also explore our Directory and Camp Guides to find local programs. If you're looking for virtual programs in our Directory, make sure that no location is selected so you can see all offerings around the country. To see local camp guides only, select your local area at the top of the site.


RELATED: Giant List of Virtual Camps  



Selecting a camp is more complicated than ever, and camps are happy to answer all questions! 

Questions To Ask Summer Camps in 2020

So, what if your state has cleared camps to open? Now what?

Selecting a camp is more complicated this summer than ever before. Parents should of course consider federal, state, and local recommendations, along with CDC and ACA guidelines (see below), and their own personal comfort level.

Here's a list of questions you might want to ask potential summer camps this season:

  1. Are you accredited by the American Camp Association or regulated by the local Health Department?
  2. Will CDC/ACA and local health guidelines be enforced throughout camp (including transportation)?
  3. What size groups will campers be in?  Will they mix with other campers throughout the camp session?
  4. Will campers use pools or other communal play equipment? What safety precautions will be used?
  5. How much time will campers spend inside? What is the plan for rainy days?
  6. Where will campers eat? If meals are provided, how will they be served?
  7. How will proper hand washing and sanitation be supported?
  8. Will campers and staff be screened daily? ​How will that be managed?
  9. Will there be a qualified nurse or medical professional on site?
  10. How would you handle a case of a COVID-19 in a child, counselor, or other staff number? Will all parents be informed?

Connecticut has approved camp for June. Photo courtesy of YMCA Camp Mahackeno in Westport

What Are CDC Safety Guidelines for Summer Camps 2020?

In-person camps will need to follow a slew of new safety considerations based on CDC guidelines to protect campers, staff, and communities, and to slow the spread of COVID-19. These are the camp's responsibility, but it's good to be familiar with them.

For additional peace of mind, the American Camp Association has also put together a detailed operations guide to help camps implement these precautions—guidelines which revolve around monitoring campers' health, separating kids into small groups, maintaining social distancing as needed, hand washing, and frequent cleaning and sanitizing. While it's impossible for any camp to achieve zero risk, many local camps are giving these guidelines their all.

Highlights from the CDC and ACA recommendations include:


  • Parents and caregivers should be asked to take their child's temperature and record their health for two weeks leading up to the start of camp.
  • Kids' temperatures should be taken at check-in for residential camps, and daily at day camps.

Camper Groups and Cohorts

  • Campers and staff should be separated into small groups or cohorts that remain together throughout a session. A group can be treated like a family, with no social distancing mandated.
  • When campers from different groups commingle, they should practice social distancing and wear masks.
  • Parents should not visit camp except to pick up and drop off children.
  • Pick-up and drop-off procedures should follow social distancing guidelines, possibly requiring staggered start times.
  • Drop-off procedures should include hand washing or sanitization, as well as screening for symptoms.
  • Hand washing or sanitation stations should be available throughout camp.
  • Specific instructions should be created for cleaning and sanitizing camp facilities.
  • Bunks should be spaced so campers' heads are six feet apart. Barriers may be used, too.

Limiting Spread

  • If a camper or staff member is identified as having COVID-19, isolation and contact tracing should be implemented.
  • All parents with children in the group should be notified.