Overnight Camps

This page provides information on what factors to consider when assessing risk, and considerations for how overnight camps can help protect campers, and staff.

CDC recommends [Español] weekly screening testing of unvaccinated camp staff who may oversee multiple cohorts of campers over the summer.  Screening testing can help identify those who are asymptomatic and do not have known, suspected, or reported exposure of the virus that causes COVID-19 and prevent further transmission. Screening testing is particularly valuable in areas with moderate, substantial, and high levels of community transmission.

For overnight camps, CDC also recommends that camp organizers 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, and delay arrival for campers or staff with confirmed positive test results.

  • CDC does not recommend getting tested again in the three months after a positive viral test if the person does not have symptoms of COVID-19. Campers and staff who have had a positive viral test in the 3 months prior to starting camp and have met the criteria to end isolation should have a letter from their healthcare provider documenting the positive test date and stating the individual is cleared to end isolation.

For camp sessions that last at least one week, camps should consider conducting screening testing 3–5 days after arrival at camp, in accordance with CDC travel guidance [Español]. Fully vaccinated  [Español] asymptomatic people without an exposure can refrain from routine screening testing. For more information about testing and summer camps,  visit CDC’s Guidance for Operating Youth and Summer Camps during COVID-19.  [Español]

VDH has BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Testing resources available free of charge for overnight camps.  Here is a link to a step by step process for obtaining free testing supplies from VDH.  All of the following criteria must be met in order to obtain resources, and is referred to in this  “getting started” document:

  1. Obtain CLIA Certificate of Waiver – All point-of-care antigen tests are CLIA waived. Facilities may obtain a certificate of waiver to provide only the COVID-19 waived tests. They may apply for a multi-site exception when they submit their application. To obtain a new certificate or waiver or to make changes to your existing CLIA certificate, send an email with your CLIA number (if available) to clialab@vdh.virginia.gov. The FDA website lists the CLIA status of available tests. See the column on the right-hand side of the page with the heading "Authorized Settings." This provides the CLIA designation for that test.
  2. Training – Abbott, the maker of BinaxNOW, offers a free online training; Abbott also offers webinars (Please email our Abbott representative Mariama Forth at mariama.forth@abbott.com to schedule a webinar).
  3. Prescriber – Someone with prescriptive authority must write an order for the test (a standing order is acceptable) and review the result.
  4. Report results to VDH – Test results need to be reported to VDH via reporting portal.

Camps can choose to implement two different types of in-camp testing: diagnostic testing or screening testing.

  • Diagnostic testing is intended to determine whether an individual with symptoms of COVID-19 or a close contact of a suspected case of COVID-19 is infected with the virus. 
  • Screening testing is intended to proactively identify asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals who have been infected with COVID-19.  Screening testing is particularly valuable in areas with moderate, substantial, and high levels of community transmission. Please see the VDH Pandemic Metrics Dashboard for community transmission data for your area.

Camps may refer to the VDH K-12 Testing Guidance for further information and a toolkit of resources. **Please note that the K-12 Statewide Standing Order DOES NOT apply to summer camps.  Each camp will need to obtain their own standing order from an authorized prescriber for in-camp COVID-19 testing.

For more information on obtaining free of charge COVID-19 testing resources, or for any questions about COVID-19 testing, please contact antigeninfo@vdh.virginia.gov.

Additional Resources:

COVID-19 Testing Sites - Virginia

VDH K-12 Testing Guidance

VDH Antigen Testing Recommendations

VDH’s guide to contact tracing

VDH When it is Safe to be Around Others: Ending Isolation in Non Healthcare Settings Infographic

VDH Summer Camp Guidance

CDC’s Guidance for Operating Youth and Summer Camps during COVID-19   [Español]

Field Guide for Camps on Implementation of CDC Guidance

VDH Camp Testing Webinar Slides (5/5/2021) 


What if a camper shows symptoms of COVID-19?

Camps should pursue testing of the symptomatic camper, and take steps to reduce the risk of the potentially positive camper from passing the virus to the rest of their cohort. Appropriate measures include isolating the ill camper (removing the camper from a common sleeping area, and ensuring that masks and social distancing are observed whenever the potentially positive camper is in the presence of others)

Determine if the worker needs medical care. Most cases of COVID-19 are mild and do not require medical care. In these situations, campers can be isolated in camp. If the camper is severely ill, then refer to a healthcare facility and call ahead to the facility before arrival.

If multiple campers in a cohort are showing symptoms and it is likely that the entire cohort has been exposed, it may be more appropriate to consider the entire cohort in Quarantine until test results for symptomatic campers can be obtained.

What should I do if a camper tests positive?

Camps should follow their isolation and quarantine plan, and the positive camper must be placed in isolation (see the Isolation and Quarantine tab). 

While Parents may elect to come pick their child up from camp, parents and camps are encouraged to consider the possible risks of introducing COVID-19 into the camper’s household and community.  In many cases, especially when camps have longer, multi-week sessions, campers/cohorts positive for COVID-19 can participate in altered camp activities designed for an isolating cohort.