Overnight Camps

The CDC is offering free COVID-19 over the counter antigen test kits for any camp that serves K-12 school aged children, as supply lasts. If your camp is interested in receiving free antigen test kits, please send an email to testinginfo@vdh.virginia.gov.

VDH currently recommends the following COVID-19 guidance for operating overnight youth camps. Day camps may refer to VDH COVID-19 Guidance for Child Care Facilities.  


  •  All campers and staff should be up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, including booster doses if eligible. If your child is not yet vaccinated, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov, visit your local pharmacy, or make an appointment with your pediatrician to schedule their COVID-19 vaccine. 


  • All camps should develop and implement a plan to decrease the risk of infectious campers and staff entering the camp environment. This plan may include COVID-19 testing in addition to symptom screening before arrival. Information on how to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 is available from the CDC.


  • Camps may consider utilizing both diagnostic and screening testing. Diagnostic testing identifies a current COVID-19 infection. Camps should use diagnostic testing of campers or staff members with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or for close contacts of someone who tests positive for COVID-19. 
  • Screening testing identifies people who have COVID-19 but do not have symptoms or a known exposure. Camps may include providing proof of a negative viral test taken 1–3 days before arrival. 
    • For long camp sessions (such as camps lasting more than one week), screening testing may also be implemented as desired throughout the camp session. Instances when screening testing may be valuable include when the COVID-19 community level is medium or high, in preparation or response to high risk camp activities (e.g. indoor sports), or to understand the level of transmission within the camp setting. 
    • At all COVID-19 Community Levels, overnight camps can consider implementing screening testing for
      • Pre-arrival screening
      • Hosting campers from abroad or from regions with varying COVID-19 Community Levels
      • For overnight camps serving vulnerable campers (such as those with complex medical conditions)
  • Other testing strategies typically used in K-12 and child care settings may also be considered. Refer to the CDC COVID-19 School Testing Website for further guidance. 



  • Camps are encouraged to follow VDH masking recommendations, including wearing a mask if symptoms appear, or if in the 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19.
  • Encourage indoor masking when COVID-19 Community Levels are high, especially when participating in activities in the larger community. 
  • Individuals who are at high risk for severe disease should talk to their healthcare provider about wearing a mask in indoor settings. 
  • Camp programs should remain supportive of any campers and staff who choose to wear a mask. 
  • When selecting a mask for a child, choose a well-fitting and comfortable mask that the child can wear properly over the nose and under the chin. 
  • Some people, including people with certain disabilities, may find it difficult to wear a mask. More information on use and care of masks for children and for people with disabilities is available from the CDC. 


  • If not all campers and staff are up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, camps are encouraged to use cohorts for at least the first 10 days of any camp session.
  • Camps may consider reducing occupancy when necessary to maintain cohorts and the separation of staff working with separate cohorts. 
  • Camps may consider vaccination status of campers when determining the size of cohorts.
  • Cohorting can be implemented, as needed, throughout the camp session to limit the spread of suspected COVID-19 or other transmissible illnesses among campers and staff. 


  • Camps are encouraged to post signage to provide public health reminders regarding hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and reporting symptoms if sick. Signs should use age-appropriate and culturally sensitive language to be understandable by campers.

Required Reporting to the Local Health Department

Isolating Ill Campers or Staff 

  • Provide clear COVID-19 procedures and camp arrival/departure protocols to parents/caregivers. 
  • Immediately isolate any campers or staff who become sick. 
  • Ill campers can stay in a designated isolation area until they are picked up by parents and/or guardians. Staff should monitor all children (and other staff) for indications of fever or respiratory illness and immediately move any ill individual from the group to the designated area. 
  • Any ill person should be referred to a healthcare provider for medical evaluation, including COVID-19 testing.

Notifying Close Contacts and Quarantine

Additional Resources

Page Last updated: June 24, 2022