What About Summer Camp 2021?

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After an incredibly tough year for everyone, especially children, summer camps can offer a welcome respite.

I recently had a meeting with several camp leaders in Australia, where they had just completed their summer camp programs (that’s November-January down under). I asked how their summer went during COVID-19, to which they responded “Fantastic!” They said it was their biggest summer ever, up by 20% over pre-COVID levels.

While the summer season doesn’t start here for another three to four months, camping leaders and parents alike in the United States are asking, “What is going to happen with camp this summer?”

As the Executive Director of HoneyRock, the Outdoor Center for Leadership Development of Wheaton College, I oversee eight weeks of summer camp for 1st through 12th grade. I believe that summer camp is desperately needed now, and it can be offered safely if we continue to follow proper health protocols. As the data coming out of Australia suggests, there is a deep hunger for the camp experience amidst the deprivation we have all experienced during COVID.

Summer Camp is Needed Now More Than Ever

Parents have first-hand experience regarding the impact of COVID on kids. Extensive research is now emerging which backs up what parents already know. COVID has had tremendous negative effects on our kids. Social isolation, inactivity, increased screen time, interrupted school, and continuous disruption is impacting the mental and physical health, learning, and social development of children and teens. [2-5] The potential long-term impact on an entire generation is significant. [3]

The summer camp environment is the antithesis and the antidote to the loss and deleterious effects of COVID. Rather than social isolation, camps offer a caring community and friendship. Instead of inactivity and screens, …

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