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Planning for summer camp amid vaccine uncertainty

If you run a summer camp, you may be watching the news and wondering how you should plan for yet another year of much uncertainty amid the coronavirus (COVID-19). Church Mutual has received many phone calls about proper risk management procedures, so we have prepared a few pieces of advice for our camp customers who need to start planning in earnest.

Assume your campers and staff will not have received vaccinations. There are two vaccines the Food and Drug Administration has approved for emergency use: the Pfizer vaccine, which is approved for ages 16 and older, and the Moderna vaccine, which is approved for ages 18 and older. We don’t know whether there will be a vaccine approved for children 15 and younger by the beginning of summer, and even if there is, it will be impossible to guarantee all your campers have access to a vaccine. Similarly, the American Camp Association does not recommend requiring vaccinations for staff members, as it is unlikely all of them will have access to vaccination before reporting to work.

Create a safety plan similar to that which you used last year. While it is exciting to hear that more and more people are receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, it likely will be fall or later before we reach herd immunity in the United States. As you prepare your programming, continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) guidelines for youth and summer camps, which include the following suggestions:

  • Encourage campers and staff to use masks when possible, and whenever physical distancing is difficult.
  • Educate all who will be at camp about the circumstances under which they should stay home.
  • Consider keeping campers in small pods from the same geographic area throughout their stay so you can reduce the number of people with whom they have contact.

Consider developing a testing protocol under which campers can be screened for COVID-19 prior to entering and whenever they exhibit symptoms. Now that it has been more than a year since the coronavirus began spreading in the U.S., there are many options for rapid and easy-to-access testing. You could use those options to your advantage, increasing the likelihood that you can identify infected campers before the virus spreads.

Be flexible. As you learned last summer, even the best laid plans sometimes need to change at the last minute. Keep a close eye on CDC guidelines to keep your campers safe.

Your Church Mutual representative can help you decide whether you have the right insurance coverage to meet all your needs. Contact us at