Summer camps talk reopening amid pandemic

Updated: Mar. 12, 2021 at 6:50 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Swimming, s’mores and summer sunsets are all part of a traditional summer camp experience that thousands of kids missed out on last year amid the pandemic.

“This time last year it was in crisis mode,” said Matthew Coussan.

Coussan is the Director of the Grove at Red Oak Lake, a faith-based camp and retreat center in Cordova.

During a typical summer, most of the camp’s 22 cabins would be filled with people, but because of the pandemic, the camp industry took a major hit.

“When you have cancellations, they’re pretty tough because you’re counting on the money coming in,” Coussan said.

According to the American Camp Association, 82% of overnight camps closed for the 2020 season.

But a new study shows camps can safely reopen for 2021.

“This summer, camp is a go in several states across the union,” said Tom Rosenberg, President and CEO of the American Camp Association.

The American Camp Association (ACA) surveyed 90,000 campers from 486 camps that ran in 2020 and found 102 total COVID-19 cases identified, which is less than 1 percent of campers and staff.

“Our new research shows that camps can operate safely this summer, as long as they follow the best practices from last summer,” Rosenberg said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a list of guidelines for summer camps in January which include hand washing, mask-wearing and proper social distancing.

With that in mind, and new safety measures in place, Coussan said he is excited to welcome campers after a difficult year for the industry.

“We never really see kids who go to camp one year and never come back.”

For more information on the CDC guidelines and a list of local camps click here.

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