Here’s where readers stand on sending kids to summer camp this year

"No doubt in my mind it's the right call."

Children during a summer camp’s outdoor yoga class in New York on Aug. 17, 2020. George Etheredge/The New York Times

When we asked readers if they plan to send their kids to summer camp this year, the majority of parents surveyed said they will.

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Of the 142 parents who answered our survey, 68 percent said they definitely plan to send their kids to summer camp, 19 percent said they will not, and 13 percent said they’re not sure. As the summer season approaches, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its COVID-19 guidelines for summer camps, advising outdoor activities whenever possible, wearing “well-fitting masks with proper filtration” at all times except during activities such as eating and swimming, avoiding close-contact or indoor sports, and maintaining at least three feet of distance between campers in the same cohort and at least six feet of distance between campers outside of the same cohort.


When Today show host Savannah Guthrie asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Wednesday whether the CDC’s camp guidelines are excessive given the low risk of both serious illness in children and transmission outdoors, Fauci said, “I wouldn’t call them excessive, Savannah, but they certainly are conservative. I think what you are going to start to see is, really, in real time, continually reevaluating that for its practicality.”

Some parents are still worried. “I am concerned that many adults are still not vaccinated,” wrote George, the parent of an 11-year-old. “I realize that it is difficult for children to stay masked and be able to play the way they would like. I would prefer to be safe, than sorry. Our family will plan outings during this summer in lieu of summer camp.”


Others are glad that their children will be eligible for vaccinations before camp. Massachusetts residents 16 years and older became eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination on April 19 and the FDA is expected to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 12-15 within the next week.

“My child’s camp will quarantine on arrival and provide testing for all campers and counselors, after which masks will not be required (sleep away camp),” wrote Joe, the parent of a 15-year-old. “The Pfizer 12-15 FDA approval is estimated to be in May, so it’s likely my child will be vaccinated prior to leaving for camp in late June for a month.”


Ahead, discover how parents feel about sending their kids to camp this summer during the coronavirus pandemic.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

‘No concerns at all’

“No concerns at all,” wrote Lisa Hines, whose child is going to an overnight camp for eight weeks.

“Both going all summer to overnight camp,” wrote Heywood, the parent of a 12- and 16-year-old. “Quarantine the week before camp, tested day of arrival, mask use for the 1st week and then tested again. No masks after 2nd negative test. Kids (and their parents) are probably safer at overnight camp than any other summer option available to us!”


“We sent our son to several camps last summer as well,” wrote Doug, the parent of a 12-year-old. “Staff did a great job providing a safe environment — which based on today’s knowledge was overkill — but we appreciated the effort at the time. This summer should be even more safe. Summer camp is a highlight for many kids growing up, no doubt in my mind it’s the right call.”

“Still concerned but not as much as last year as I expect that camp counselors/teachers will be vaccinated, however all the kids that are my children’s ages will still be unvaccinated,” wrote Steven. “Much as last year, summer camp is a necessity in a family with two working parents, so we have to utilize it but I feel more comfortable this year. My 7-year-old will be going to a day camp for the majority of the summer.”


“I have no concerns about sending my son (Zachary, 14) to an overnight summer camp in Franklin, MA,” wrote John. “We have already made accommodations, along with many other parents whom will be sending their children to this camp in a bucolic setting with a multitude of outdoor activities.”

“Let kids play and socialize, we can still wear masks and be safe,” wrote Kevin, the parent of a 7- and 9-year-old. “Both our kids did camps last year and it was great for them.”

Amy, the parent of a 7-year-old, wrote that she’ll be sending her child, but “I have concerns that special education needs will be trumped by social distancing requirements.”


“As soon as kids are all vaccinated, I would consider it,” wrote a reader.


“Counselors vaccinated? Too many kids, hard to keep distance and protocols in place,” wrote another reader.

“Not until she is vaccinated,” wrote Jen about her 13 year old going to camp.

Not sure yet

“We won’t be attending any camp that mandates masks for children, period…so we’re waiting to hear what options are available,” wrote the parent of a 12-year-old. “We know this probably means going out of state. If MA keeps the kids masked into the fall, we’re going to be house shopping, too.”

“This was going to be his first year at sleep away camp in Vermont. It was supposed to be last year but the pandemic had other plans. I would really like to send him to camp but he won’t be going unless he is vaccinated,” Michelle, parent of a 12-year-old, wrote. “I’m hopeful that the vaccine will be approved for younger people soon. If not, I’m out thousands of dollars and my child will be out another year of summer camp experience.” She added the alternative if summer camp is out again this year: “Discovering wild spaces near our home, weekends camping and early morning trips to the beach.”

Advertisement: occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.

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