Camps and COVID-19: What We Know, What We Don’t Know, and Where We Go From Here




summer camp, COVID-19, youth development


What do we know about camps and COVID-19? About as much as we know about the virus itself, which is that it is universal, it is catastrophic, and it is forcing us to bend and shift in ways we never expected. We don’t yet know the full impact of COVID-19 on camps, although preliminary findings from a series of studies conducted by the American Camp Association suggest the effects of COVID-19 on camps and the communities they serve are significant. In this research note we present what we are learning from these ongoing efforts and what they suggest about camps and the young people they serve. While programmatic shifts, like virtual camp programming, and COVID-19 preventive measures, like masks and cohorts, are still being tested, we know that young people thrive when they feel connected to peers and adults in places like camp. We also know that coronavirus disproportionately affects communities who already face inequitable access to healthcare, education, and high-quality summertime experiences. Given what we know, and considering what we have yet to learn, we suggest some ways camp professionals and researchers can chart a path to 2021.

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Special Issue: Critical Exploration of Evidence-Based Practice in Organized Camping