Due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents have delayed their search for summer camps. Some states have begun reopening businesses and services, including summer camps. And some longtime camps have announced they are not opening this summer.

Now, many parents will decide if and where to send their children to camp this summer.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has provided considerations for camp administration and local governments as they create new minimum health and safety standards. While individual camps will decide when they will accept campers, they must all adhere to these standards determined by the state. U.S. residents can check their state’s (www.mass.gov) website for required summer camp protocols.

Additionally, the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) and the American Camp Association (ACA) have teamed up to provide educational resources for summer camp staff on supporting camp safety. The document includes guidelines for subjects such as communication, transportation, food services and screening for COVID-19.

Better Business Bureau offers these tips to parents searching for the right summer camp:

Check for accreditation. Regardless of pandemic-related issues, the safest way to ensure your child’s safety is to send them to a trustworthy camp. ACA accredited camps must meet the 32 national summer camp standards, and BBB accreditation requires the organization meet eight standards of trust. Search for camps in the ACA and BBB directories to check for accreditation.

Know required safety standards. Individual states will provide health and safety guidelines for summer camps, following CDC recommendations. These protocols may include measures such as monitoring health of staff and campers, limiting visitor access to campgrounds, adapting meal distribution and providing sanitation products to staff and campers.

Use references. Physical visitations may be difficult or not allowed at all. In lieu of visiting the camp, ask if they have a list of references or past campers you can contact. You may also want to consider asking trusted friends or family their recommendations for summer camps. Reviews and complaint histories can also be found on the camp’s business profile at BBB.org.

Assess medical resources. Camps should already have resources for treating sick and injured campers. Ask about the camp’s normal medical facilities and how those resources have changed to accommodate potential COVID-19 situations. You may also want to ask how the camp and staff are following minimum protocols and what additional measures they are taking.

Review contracts and fees. As always, you should review contracts before you sign them. Find out the total cost and if a deposit is required. See which activities or services require additional fees. You should also check for details regarding refunds, especially in the event of cancellations related to COVID-19. If that information is not outlined in the contract, ask a camp employee.

Find a summer camp near you at BBB.org. Find more information about the ACA and Y-USA’s joint efforts at ymca.net.

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