Essential Operations for an Essential Summer

May 20, 2021, Department, by Kelley Freridge

2021 June Operations Essential Operations for an Essential Summer 410x410

For an enhanced digital experience, read this story in the ezine.

Essential Operations for an Essential Summer By Kelley Freridge At the American Camp Association (ACA), we think about health, safety, risk management and quality in the camp setting every day. ACA has released its CampCounts 2020 Report, a study that focuses on the policies, practices and procedures of camp operations for managing and mitigating spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Park and recreation professionals and camp staff are reviewing and updating their plans daily as summer approaches.

We’re fortunate that we learned a great deal from last summer and the more than 3,000 day and overnight camp programs that served communities — often functioning as essential care for frontline workers and families in need of childcare. Since March 2020, ACA has focused on how we think about health, safety, risk management and quality. Our Field Guide for Camps covers implementing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance in the camp setting and is available for free to all individuals serving youth in any way at Camp Field Guide.

We encourage you to take some time to download the field guide and consider how the recommendations outlined in the resource might be implemented in your program and facilities, and with your staff. ACA’s Field Guide for Camps was developed with information from publicly available sources, including public and private entities, non-governmental organizations and professional associations, as well as subject matter experts in each area covered by the field guide.

CDC guidance provides the foundation of every applicable area of the field guide and sets the guiding principle for camp operations: the more people a camper or staff member interacts with, and the longer that interaction is, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. This concept informs all areas of the field guide, but also informs the nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) that are core to operating in-person programming this summer. We now know that camps that have implemented strict, layered mitigation strategies — including wearing masks, cohorting, physical distancing, pre-screening, cleaning, maintaining healthy facilities, proper handwashing, running programming outdoors as often as possible and leveraging ventilation strategies when indoors — have been able to safely operate in person while mitigating spread of COVID-19.

If you’re interested in exploring more of ACA’s findings from summer 2020, we encourage you to download the CampCounts 2020 Report, which can be found at The report highlights how NPIs were used in both day and overnight camp settings — and tested at select programs.

Kelley Freridge is Chief Marketing Officer for the American Camp Association.