Summer camps in Oregon have changed how they operate, due to concerns over COVID-19. Overnight camps for school-aged children are not permitted for 2020. Day camps may operate but with significant restrictions and additional safety protocols by following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Oregon Health Authority.

Large group activities and close-contact games are no longer advised. Instead, the focus is on activities that allow for more social distancing.

“The safest situation for kids attending summer camp this year is for them to spend time with a small cohort of other kids who stay in the same group throughout the summer, or throughout the duration of the camp,” says Dr. Pilar Bradshaw.

Under detailed guidelines from the state, day camp operators must:

  • Take each camper’s temperature before they enter the facility. Any child with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be admitted.
  • Assign campers to a “stable group,” where 10 kids or fewer stay together for all activities throughout the duration of the camp and, whenever possible, the same staff members work with the same group.
  • Encourage handwashing throughout the day and sanitize high-touch surfaces and frequently-used objects and equipment between use.
  • Focus activities around games, crafts, sports and other opportunities where social distancing can be maintained, as much as possible.

“Having campers do a lot of outdoor activities is best, especially since it’s beautiful now in the summer. That’s safer for everyone,” says Dr. Bradshaw.

Under the governor’s mandate, cloth face masks are required indoors for camp staff, as well as outside when social distancing cannot be maintained. It is recommended that children over the age of 2 wear a mask unless they have a health condition that prevents it or they are unable to remove the mask on their own.

In addition to screening campers and staff for coronavirus symptoms and notifying local health authorities of any COVID-19 cases, day camp operators must also keep a daily log with information about each camp group to enable contact tracing, if necessary.

Pediatricians agree that it’s good for children’s mental health when they are able to interact with their peers, however, it’s important for families to take precautions and monitor their health, for their safety and for the safety of others.

Dr. Bradshaw says, “If you are feeling sick, stay home. And that goes for the camp instructors as well as the campers.”