'Should My Child Go To Summer Camp?' 5 Questions In The Age of COVID-19.
By Diane Arnaout, M.D.
As Cook Children’s pediatricians, we are getting the forms daily. And the questions that come along with it.
“Can my kids go to summer camp this year?”
“Are we putting ourselves at risk by letting them go?”
While CLEARING your child for summer camp may be straight-forward for us, deciding whether or not they should attend camp this year can be a much more difficult question for families.
“Over time we will know more about the amount of disease in each community and the risk of being in a group setting at camp. At a minimum, camps have to maintain social distancing, wipe surfaces, enforce hand washing frequently, etcetera - and no high-risk children should attend,“ says Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children’s.
Some camps nationwide are choosing to hold smaller sessions, with fewer kids. Many are imposing daily temperature checks. Some are even requiring a camper be tested for the virus before starting. The American Camp Association has recently put out a lengthy guide for camps to help them comply with CDC recommendations.
Obviously, there’s no easy answer here. But here are some things to think about in making your decision (developed in part by the thoughtful physicians at Cook Children's Southwest Harris Parkway office):
1. How healthy is your child? Do they have any chronic health conditions that would put them at an increased risk of significant illness from coronavirus, such as diabetes, asthma or immune deficiency?
2. How healthy are your other household members? Is there anyone who your child has frequent contact with who is elderly or at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus?
3. How important is this camp to your child? If it is something they feel ambivalent about, it is probably not worth the exposure. If they have been looking forward to it since last year, it may deserve a serious family discussion.
4. What safety measures is the camp taking? Is there a screening process? Are there attempts at some degree of distancing? What happens if someone gets sick during camp? It is very possible, if someone gets sick at the camp, everyone will be sent home. It’s for this reason if you do send your child, it’s best that your family plan to be available for an unexpected pick-up.
5. If your child gets sick at camp, it could potentially mean the child or family would need to be on home quarantine for two weeks. What impact would this have on your household?
As for my family? My kids are young, 4 and 6. We had plans to attend four daytime camps in Fort Worth, for 1-2 weeks each. We canceled those plans. My kids aren’t emotionally tied to the idea of camp, and while they’ll be a little disappointed, we will find other ways to get outdoors, plan some fun projects, and interact with other kids virtually (if you haven’t tried a Zoom dinner date with another chicken-nugget-eating family once a awhile…try it!).
"I didn’t realize how important the job of the pediatrician was until I had kids of my own. My education, experience in medicine, and cocky attitude made me feel like I knew it all before my first one came around. He proceeded to make me very aware of how little I actually knew.
Thankfully he survived, as did the next one, and they’ve helped me to grow and to help YOU, the parent, in so many ways. Sure I’m here to make sure your kids are healthy and happy at all ages. But I’m also here to make sure you’re educated, to make sure your family is thriving, and to make you feel confident in caring for your kids. From diaper rashes to sleep problems to school difficulties - I’m here to help.
I write a lot about common problems and ailments online – you can find me busy on Facebook and Instagram, and I write articles for the Cook Children’s Checkup Newsroom blog. A lot of stuff you’ll hear me say in the office will be typed out on there, too. And we’re in a day and age where the internet helps make connections – you can connect with me on there, or e-mail me anytime.
It takes a village to raise a child – and I’m so grateful to be a part of yours. And as Master Yoda teaches us – “Always pass on what you have learned.” I fully plan to!"