Last year, when we entered the 2020s, we all had one expectation for our children – have fun and enjoy their life. But then that all changed right before our eyes and suddenly we were faced with lockdowns and restrictions.
Every day, the news blared on about the new pandemic and panic lightened within us all. Everything shut and silence coated our earth with none of us knowing what to expect. And even after 14 months of learning to cope with this ‘new normal’, there are still many questions on how to be safe but still have fun.
In 2020, many summer camps were shut due to Covid-19, but now in 2021, summer camps have been given the green light that they can re-open.
But what does this mean?
And how can summer camps still hold the same amount of fun in these still-uncertain times?
Planning and prepping for a safe environment
Although evidence has shown us that fewer children have been infected with Covid-19 compared to adults, they are still at risk of getting ill with the coronavirus and spreading it around, even if they do not suffer from the symptoms.
This means the importance of making sure camps are safe for children is very high, and the first step of making sure that the environment is safe and healthy is through planning.
Every camp should have a documented checklist that will cover the steps that campers and employees must do to prevent the spread of Covid-19. As well as that, they need to know what to do if someone has come in contact with someone who has Covid-19, or has symptoms, or has been tested positive.
Here are a few topics that this document should cover:
Encouraging staff, campers and parents to consider vaccination, if appropriate
When vaccinations started to roll out, it was suggested they would only be given to people who were 18+, starting with the older generations.
Campers are under 18, of course, and recommendations vary from country to country, so it would be inappropriate to comment more on this subject here, beyond making yourself fully aware of the recommendations in your country or jurisdiction, and seeking medical advice where appropriate.
Early data suggests that the vaccination might be helping people not spread Covid-19 between one another. Yet it is important to remember that there is still a lot to learn about the vaccination about how much it stops the spread.
No matter what, governments around the world are encouraging people to have the vaccination to lower the risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19.
Having multiple prevention strategies
Having staff plan all the different ways that they can prevent the spread of Covid-19 will help employees be prepared when the first day arrives. For example, testing campers’ and parents’ temperature on the day of arrival.
Another prevention strategy is wearing masks – but also knowing when employees and campers should be wearing them.
It is understandable for staff and campers to not always be wearing masks, as they may be outside and socially distanced already. However, if a child has scraped their knee or bumped their head, close contact will be needed between them and the first aider, and therefore masks should be worn. This means it’s important for staff at camps to have correct training to ensure that they know the appropriate steps to take when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Having a designated camp Covid-19 coordinator
Assigning a staff member to take on the role of Covid-19 coordinator helps keep everything organised. This person will ensure that rules are being followed and will work to keep the environment safe and smooth running in these times. They will also be the person to communicate to parents if there has been an outbreak.
Knowing what to do if an outbreak of Covid-19 occurs
This is vital, especially as no matter how much you prepare, the worst can unfortunately happen. Every staff member should know how to react if they learn that someone has symptoms or has been in contact with someone who has Covid-19.
Part of your planning documentation should highlight the steps to take if such an event occurs, and all staff should be familiar with the procedures to be undertaken.
Conducting a risk assessment
When staff are planning on what activities they will hold when campers arrive, they need to map out how high the risk is for Covid-19 to spread and how to prevent this from happening. This is the place to learn what activities might not be able to take place, but it can also give staff the chance to conduct new activities that are safe yet still allow the children to experience all the benefits of being at camp, without unnecessary restrictions.
How to maintain a safe environment?
The difficult part is making sure that the camp is running smoothly when the campers have arrived, whether it is for a day, a week or even a month. And as mentioned above no matter how much you prepare, you can never fully know what could happen. Here are some tips on how camps can make sure that their surroundings stay safe.
Moving forms online
Normally signing in can be seen as a manual task, but having forms for parents and campers to complete online before entering the camp will help to prevent the spread of Covid-19. An important form for campers to fill in is the Covid-19 self-screening form, these forms are very commonly used now when going to the doctors or dentist.
In these forms, it should ask the campers if they have symptoms, or have been in contact with anyone who has Covid-19. Having this online will help parents and campers find out straight away if they are allowed to go to the camp. Doing the form online and not on arrival may save some parents and campers a wasted journey, and importantly, help prevent the risk of spreading Covid-19.
Teaching campers the rules has always been important, but for this year, it is even more important due to the risk of virus spread. It is often more challenging to communicate with children than adults, but using visual content does help with remembering rules. A study published by ChangingMinds.org has shown that after three days, a person can retain between 10-20% of content when written or spoken, but 65% when it is presented visually.
Putting campers in a group of six or eight and having a specific staff member stay with them, will help stop the spread of Covid-19 and contain it if there is, unfortunately, an outbreak. Campers will still have the time to learn new skills and socialise, and a smaller group could end up helping the quieter campers to pop their head out of their shell. Although these groups are smaller than normal, it doesn’t mean campers will lose vital skills and independent learning.
Moving more activities outside
Evidence has shown that the risk of Covid-19 spreading outside is lower than it is inside, because there is more space and air. Not only does it lower the spread, but being outside has many positive side effects. For example, it helps the campers be closer to nature and exposes them to fresh air, along with the sights and sounds (and smells) of the great outdoors. It even improves children’s immune systems and mental health.
Enhanced cleaning measures
One of the bigger summer camps in the UK, Super Camps, state how each bubble will have their own cleaning kit, to keep their environment safe and free from germs.
All of these rules to keep on top of cleaning will not only help camps be safer but will also teach children the importance of keeping surfaces and their surroundings clean; a useful skill that is best learned sooner rather than later.
Camps already know how much parents would love to be involved and learn all about their child’s achievements. Living in this pandemic is going to heighten this desire for engagement even more, as parents are naturally more worried than usual about their child’s safety, and want to make sure everything is going well.
A great way to keep parents feeling that their child is in a safe environment is by updating them with regular photos and video.
Visual content is a great way to highlight what staff and campers are doing to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Mindful of this need, we have developed the Splento App. This app helps camps communicate with parents, uploading photos and video within seconds, to a safe and private platform. This visual content can show what their children are up to from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave – and everything in-between! This can show concerned parents that the activities run are safe – socially distanced where appropriate – and that other safety measures are being adhered to.
It’s the most secure way to send parents memories and updates, especially during this unusual time.
If you want more, why not further explore what the Splento App can do for summer camps?
And if you like what features we have to offer, you can always book a free demo of the Splento App.
The Splento App is available to try now – for free!
Hit the button below to try out Splento App for yourself and start sharing all your favourite photos with your family and friends, today!