Summer Camps & COVID
February 8, 2021
We never imagined in April 2020 when we wrote “Summer Camps & COVID” on our law firm blog that we would be updating it nearly a year later. In January, the CDC released updated guidelines for Summer Camps. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/summer-camps.html.
As much as we all hope COVID will be long gone by the summer, many of us must make decisions right now about camps. Goodness knows if they are open, they will be full! So, do you go ahead and pay the deposit? What are the risks? What is your camp doing to prepare and protect the kids? If it doesn’t work out or you don’t feel comfortable sending your kids, can you get your money back? Camp isn’t cheap!
As we have helped parents read camp information and navigate contracts this past year, there is one thing we have noticed. Camps that are members of national camp associations seem to have access to good resources and information. The American Camp Association, which has more than 3,500 accredited camp members in its database, has partnered with the YMCA and an expert panel to create good resources located here https://www.acacamps.org/resource-library/coronavirus-information-camps. Check and see if your child’s camp is a member, find parent resources, and compare what your camp is offering to these best practice resources.
Camp location matters. Although your state may be able to open, the state and local governments where the camp is located will determine the rules and regulations for the camp beyond the CDC recommendations. Check out local government websites and news. Many camps are in small towns or outside of larger metropolitan areas which is good. You can also call the nearest city or town and ask questions.
Read the fine print and ask questions. (If you don’t have the time or energy to read all of the fine print, it is worth it to pay a lawyer for an hour of their time to help you.) It could potentially save you thousands of dollars in camp fees. Keep in mind the contract you are signing should not be the same contract that the camp has been using for years. If a camp tells you, “this is what we have always used,” you should be wary. A camp really trying to make things work will have tailored its deposit policy and cancellation policy to allow for COVID concerns. Things to be sure to look for and note: (1) when payments are due, (2) whether you are allowed to cancel with no charge up until dates of the camp depending on your level of comfort and safety, and (3) how often the camp will update you with its status.
Knowledge is key to finding the right camp, especially in the crazy pandemic world in which we are living. You sure don’t want to miss other camp opportunities if the camp your child is registered for cancels and closes. We are big fans of camps that are transparent and have said, “we don’t know, but we will decide by (date) .” That is honest communication that is helpful.
Get out there and sign your child up for the camp that is the right for your child and your family, but please do your homework and carefully read all the information. We love summer camps and wish them all the best.
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