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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Prioritize outdoor activities and consider limiting all-camp gatherings or activities that include participants from multiple cohorts to those that can take place outside.
- Review VDH ventilation best practices and CDC Ventilation in Schools and Child Care Programs. Consider ventilation system upgrades or improvements to increase the delivery of clean air in all indoor camp facilities.
- Consider creating an indoor air action plan. See EPA's Clean Air in Buildings Challenge for additional information.
- 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
- If a known or suspected outbreak of COVID-19 (3 or more cases within a 14-day period) occurs, the facility is advised to call the local health department immediately to discuss the situation. The local health department will work with the facility to provide disease control and prevention recommendations to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19.
- The person in charge of any child care center, school, or summer camp is required to report suspected outbreaks of any illness that might be spread from one person to another. Child care facility directors should refer to the Rules and Regulations of the Board of Health for requirements. The VDH outbreak reporting tool is available for reporting outbreaks.
- VDH publishes information about all COVID-19 outbreaks, including those in summer camps, on its COVID-19 Outbreaks by Selected Exposure dashboard Settings dashboard.
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
- If a case of COVID-19 is confirmed with a positive viral test, the facility should be prepared to alert any staff or parents of children who were in close contact with the infected person.
- See Child Care and Day Camps and VDH COVID-19 Guidance for Child Care Facilities for template letters and additional information.
- CDC COVID-19 Community Level guidance
- VDH When it is Safe to be Around Others: Ending Isolation in Non Healthcare Settings Infographic
- VDH K-12 Testing Guidance
- Frequently Asked Questions for Directors of Overnight Camps
- COVID-19 Testing Sites - Virginia
- American Camp Association (ACA): Field Guide for Camps
- VDH Algorithm for evaluating a child with COVID-19 symptoms or exposure
- VDH Child Care and Day Camps
- ACA and CDC Town Hall (March 29, 2022)
Page Last updated: June 24, 2022