Summer camps set to reopen in Connecticut

Connecticut+sleepaway+camps+are+being+allowed+this+summer%2C+but+they+will+be+structured+differently+in+the+interest+of+COVID-19+safety.

Graphic by Kristina Chaney ’23

Connecticut sleepaway camps are being allowed this summer, but they will be structured differently in the interest of COVID-19 safety.

Kristina Chaney ’23, Staff Writer

Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood has decided to authorize sleepaway camps to operate this summer in accordance with the CDC’s April 24 guidelines, allowing for sleepaway camps to be run for the first time since 2019.

 “The present guidance is intended to help camp administrators operate camps while preventing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting campers, their families, staff and communities,” the CDC summer camp guidelines said.

The camp reopenings are not unconditional; the guidelines would require campers and counselors to separate into isolated cohorts, hold most activities outside and wear masks for most of the time. Campers and counselors need either proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test to attend a camp.

“People need to be careful,” Lynnea Moskowitz ’22 said. “[Sickness] in camps spreads really fast, but if there’s a way to regulate it, it could work.”

The CDC guidelines are only recommendations and not legally binding, but the Office of Early Childhood has stated that its laws are adhering to the guidelines as much as possible.

Camps have begun to prepare for summer by developing cleaning schedules, activity lists and cohort systems in accordance with the new rules and recommendations.

“We’re ready to have another great summer and give kids the opportunity to be outside to meet new friends in a fun, safe place and do some really cool things,” Keith Garbart, a camp director at Winding Trails Camp in Farmington, said.

Many camps have started selling spots, and some, especially day camps, have started waitlists due to an overflow of campers. The sleepaway camps that are reopening have made new accommodations for COVID-19, such as changing methods of cleaning and cooking.

We’re ready to have another great summer and give kids the opportunity to be outside to meet new friends in a fun, safe place and do some really cool things.”

— Keith Garbart

Many kids, including Staples students, spend their summer vacations at sleepaway camps to gain valuable social and life experience. 

“Camp can be really important for kids […] because it teaches them to be more independent as well as a lot of life skills,” Moskowitz said.

Most kids at sleepaway camps are in elementary or middle school, and though high schoolers are less prominent in this setting, many are eligible for volunteer or paid positions as counselors or camp staff. 

“It is also nice as a high schooler to not have to think about school and even college during summer break,” Julia Weber ’23 said. “With proper safety measures, it’s safe to reopen camps.”

The camp experience will be different due to COVID-19 regulations, but Connecticut and the CDC have decided that sleepaway camps can be operated safely despite the difficulties.

Youth and summer camps can play an important role in the lives of children, including supporting their social, emotional, and physical development,” the April 24 CDC guidelines said.