Parents’ Summer Camp Checklist Does Not Include Covid Concerns

When choosing a summer camp for their children, many U.S. parents prioritize location, cost and activities. Only one in 10 said COVID-19 precautions are important, a new survey reveals.

Among parents who said COVID-19 precautions would play an important role in their summer camp decision, three-quarters support mask and vaccine requirements. Meanwhile, one-quarter prefer a camp with no such mandates, according to the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

“Mandatory vaccination and masking may minimize disruptions to camp activities from a COVID outbreak and also limit the risk that campers pass on COVID to other family members,” poll co-director Sarah Clark said in a university news release.

The survey of 1,020 U.S. parents with at least one child between the ages of 6 and 12 was conducted in April. Nearly half the respondents said they were considering either overnight or day camp for their child.

This is the third pandemic-era summer, and the first when children younger than 12 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. This month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds.

Parents should be familiar with the camp’s policies on masking and COVID-19 vaccination, and whether there are quarantine guidelines in case of an outbreak or exposure, Clark advised.

The poll also found that when choosing a camp, less than half of parents said general safety policies were essential to their decision. Only half felt very confident that they can tell if a summer camp is safe and healthy for their child.

“Parents often entrust camp staff with supervising their children for long days, even overnight, in the summer,” but “may not always consider whether the camps they’re choosing are prepared to care for all campers’ needs and respond to health and safety emergencies,” Clark said.

In terms of assessing safety, nearly three in four parents said they look at the ratio of staff to children; more than three in five assess first aid training among staff and camp inspections or safety ratings; and more than half check emergency preparedness plans.

The majority of parents believe that if a camp is accredited, it has been inspected in the last one to two years and staff have received safety training.

Overall, the most important considerations cited by parents in choosing camps were logistics like location, hours and cost, and activities offered by camps, the poll found.

One in 12 parents said a summer camp would need to accommodate their child’s specific health issue, including allergies, medication needs, physical disabilities or mental health concerns.

“Parents should talk with the camp director to ensure the camp will be able to meet their child’s health needs,” Clark said. “Parents can’t assume health-related information about their child has been shared with all appropriate groups.”

More information

For advice on summer camps and COVID-19, go to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, May 23, 2022

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