CDC Updated Guidance for Operating Youth and Summer Camps During COVID-19

A Message and resources from the CDC below.

Dear Partners,

We hope that you are doing well and that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe. As summer approaches, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes that youth and summer camps provide opportunities for children to try new activities, be physically active, and develop relationships and social skills. We are pleased to offer Guidance for Operating Youth and Summer Camps during COVID-19, which provides recommendations to help youth and summer camp administrators use layered prevention steps to help reopen and operate camps safely, while slowing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.  

We invite you to share this guidance widely with your partners and networks. 

Camp programs should use layered prevention plans and encourage behaviors to slow the spread of COVID-19, including the following: 

  • Strongly encourage staff and campers to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to them. 
  • Educate staff, campers, and their families about when they should stay home and when they can return to camp. 
  • Require all campers, staff, and visitors to wear a mask that fits well on the face and covers the nose and mouth. 
  • Encourage frequent hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or the use of hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available) and covering coughs and sneezes. 
  • Encourage physical distancing including assigning groups of campers to separate groups for camp activities, also known as cohorting. Modify camp activities to encourage outdoor and other lower-risk activities.  
  • Increase ventilation for indoor activities. 
  • Clean frequently and disinfect when needed to maintain healthy facilities. 

CDC recommends additional guidance for overnight camps including the following: 

  • Assign campers and staff to small groups, known as household cohorts, to sleep in the same space and stay separated from other groups during the day.  
  • Conduct daily symptom checking
  • Use contact tracing along with isolation and quarantine when needed. 
  • Request that campers, their families, and camp staff follow guidance for travelers in the 14 days before camp arrival to reduce exposure to COVID-19. 
  • Ask campers and staff who are not fully vaccinated to provide proof of a negative viral test taken no more than 1-3 days before arriving at camp.  

The new camp operational guidance is supported by current evidence for physical distancing among youth in school settings, regardless of whether community transmission is low, moderate, substantial, or high.  Camp administrators and staff, working with state, local, territorial, and tribal health officials, should review and use CDC’s recommendations on how to operate camps while protecting campers, their families, staff, and communities and  help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

CDC continues to review the growing evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on young people, and to use new science to inform our guidance. We hope you will find this updated guidance useful in your work and will continue to reach out as new information and resources become available. 

Thank you for your continued partnership with CDC. 

Community Interventions and Critical Populations Taskforce 

CDC COVID-19 Response Team