TAMPA, Fla. — As parents start to sign their kids up for summer camp, doctors say they should keep in mind each camp is going to have its own COVID-19 protocols.
“I think that the devil is going to be in the details with that. But I do think that there could absolutely be policies put in place that could drastically minimize the risk,” said Dr. David Berger, Board Certified Pediatrician, Owner, and Medical Director of Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care.
Experts say having these policies will be especially important since kids under 12 can’t get vaccinated yet.
Many parents are already booking camps.
Camp Doublemint in Tampa has had to extend its hours and already had a waiting list.
“Summer camp registration is filling up very fast and because of the amount of families that have reached out looking for additional support and extra hours, that’s the reason why we have extended our hours,” said Synthia Fairman, Co-Owner of Doublemint Sitting and Camp Doublemint.
In anticipation of a busy camp summer, the CDC recently released new COVID-19 safety guidelines for youth day camps and overnight camps. Some of those include:
- Cleaning and disinfecting
- Camp staff getting vaccinated
- Physical distancing for unvaccinated kids with little mixing between groups to control variants
There will be differences at camp this summer, for example, there are some that may only run for a few weeks at a time.
Then there are others like Little Explorers in Palm Harbor and Indian Rocks that have classes where parents stay to play with their kids. They’ve stepped up their COVID-19 safety protocols to prevent spread this summer.
“We also clean like crazy moms because we’re moms ourselves. So we’re going to be cleaning all the time. We actually close our doors after each session so that we can completely sanitize the space,” said Caroline Sakla, Owner of Little Explorers.
Sakla wants parents to feel comfortable bringing their kids to play.
“All our products that are used in the play area are going o be safe to be around children,” said Sakla.
She’s encouraging all families to utilize their space, even if they can’t afford camp this summer.
“Message us. Please do not allow any financial burdens or any budget constraints limit you from being in our space. Message us we’ll make it happen… We want you here,” said Sakla.
Camp Doublemint is also taking COVID-19 precautions seriously for campers. The Monday-Friday day camp is doing temperature checks and deep cleaning.
“We have an amazing deep cleaning company that comes in every week to deep clean, we sanitize daily… Because of COVID-19, if one child has any sort of runny nose, a cough or anything, families have to be 100% transparent and let us know because if not we do have to turn them away,” said Fairman.
The CDC says regardless of the level of COVID-19 community transmissions, camp programs should implement prevention strategies.