camp rules

May 6, 2021

“Strict” Or “Senseless”?

The CDC's new guidance for summer camps sparks a new conversation about children and COVID-19.
Here are both sides.


The CDC’s new guidance for summer camps:

  • Mask-wearing for all staff & campers above age 2 while indoors & outdoors (except when swimming, sleeping, or eating/drinking).
  • Maintaining at least 3 feet distance for campers within the same pod, and at least 6 feet distance when eating. Maintaining at least 6 feet distance between campers and staff.
  • Encouraging staff to get vaccinated and weekly testing of unvaccinated staff.


Updated CDC guidance for overnight camps:

  • Encouraging all eligible campers, staff and family members to get fully vaccinated two weeks ahead of camp.
  • Requesting unvaccinated campers & staff to quarantine for two weeks ahead of camp.
  • Allowing campers & staff in the same bunk (a.k.a. pod) to not wear masks or physically distance.
  • Daily symptom-checking of all campers & staff.

Something To Consider:

  • The CDC released a study last summer about an overnight summer camp in Georgia.
  • Staff and campers (ages 6-19) needed a negative SARS-CoV-2 test before attending.
  • Masks were required for staff – not campers.
  • A staff member tested positive for COVID-19. Days later, the camp shut down.
  • Of 597 staff/campers total, COVID test results were available for 344; 260 tested positive.
  • Limitations: Researchers could not attribute ALL CASES back to the camp, as infection rates in Georgia were increasing at the time.
"I wouldn't call them excessive, but they certainly are conservative."

Dr. Anthony Fauci on the CDC’s new guidance, saying that “it looks a bit strict, a bit stringent, but that’s the reason why they keep looking at that and trying to reevaluate – literally – in real time whether or not that’s the practical way to go.” Dr. Fauci added that the CDC will “continually reevaluate“ the guidance for practicality.

"I am supportive of effective measures to restrain the spread of illness. However, the CDC’s recommendations cross the line into excess and are, frankly, senseless. Children cannot be running around outside in 90-degree weather wearing a mask. Period.”

Pediatric immunologist Dr. Mark Gorelik, Columbia University, who’s studied rare side effects of COVID-19 in children, said that “irrational recommendations will do no good, could in this case do harm, and really discredit federal agencies.”

On Monday, the FDA granted emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children ages 12 to 15. The news comes days after CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that if there’s FDA authorization of a COVID vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds, she would “advocate” for them being able to take their masks off outdoors. On Thursday, the CDC said those vaccinated do not need to wear masks, indoor or outdoors.

CDC’s Updated Camp Guidance

Vaccinated 12- to 15-year-olds at U.S. camps will be able to remove masks outdoors, the C.D.C. director says.




Study from Georgia Overnight Camp:

by Jenna Lee,