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Overnight summer camp safety: What to know

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 2:47 PM EDT
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LAKE WYLIE, S.C. (WBTV) - It’s the biggest question parents ask themselves this time of year – what am I doing with my kids over the summer?

Typically, that answer for millions of parents is – summer camp.

But things get a bit trickier in the middle of a pandemic.

First thing you need to know - the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has new guidelines for youth camps this summer.

But with so many children, how are safety protocols being enforced?

We went to an overnight camp at Lake Wylie to get your questions answered.

“They have high ropes and they have stuff I’ve never done in my life before,” said 6-year-old camper Logan Hreha.

His mother Jessica signed him up for overnight camp at YMCA’s Camp Thunderbird at Lake Wylie.

“He had such an amazing experience at this mini camp that I just can’t wait to hear all of the stories that come out of his camp,” said Jessica.

After weeks of remote learning, this place will be a good release for many children.

The thought of being around other kids amid a pandemic doesn’t worry Jessica.

“From what we’ve seen, the camp staff is really consistent with mask wearing and they stay within their cabins, their cabin cohorts, or their families, throughout the time that they’re here at camp,” said Jessica.

The CDC says campers and staff who are staying together in a cabin are part of a “household cohort.”

The CDC says they “do not need to wear masks or physically distance when they are together without non-household cohort members nearby.”

“If they’re interacting with a kid outside their cabin, which probably won’t happen, they would have to wear a mask. I don’t see any cases where they’re doing that at all,” said resident camp director Andy Belich.

He says, campers stick to their cohorts.

“Our facilities allow us to cohort our families – our family groups which is our cabin groups - into about 10 to 16 people, and we have so many activity choices we are able to keep our cabins separated,” said Belich.

Last year, they operated their overnight camp at 65% capacity, and there were no outbreaks.

This year, they’re hoping for the same.

“Our meal times this summer are looking a little bit different. We’re going to do a 50% capacity in our dining hall so 50% of camp will take their meals to go and the other 50% will do indoors, in the dining hall,” said Belich.

At night, bunk beds are spaced out about 2-and-a half to 3 feet.

Staff will also be doing health screenings for their campers twice a day, taking temperatures and asking questions.

Jessica’s at ease knowing her son will be here.

“I can’t wait for him to get out on the water and do some tubing this summer and canoeing and I think he’s going to have the best time,” said Jessica.

“I’m really excited,” said Logan.

Take note, here are those questions parents should be asking camp organizers:

· What’s the protocol if a COVID case is reported?

· What kind of indoor capacity will the camp follow for meals or assemblies?

· How is social distancing managed by the provider?

· What if your family needs to make changes due to a health issue - What is the refund policy?

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