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State of California—Health and Human Services Agency
California Department of Public Health

May 13, 2021

All Californians

Guidance for Overnight Camps

​Note: This Guidance is no longer in effect and is for historical purposes only.

The following guidance is intended to help overnight youth and family camps formulate and implement plans for safe re-opening starting June 1, 2021, and provides public health recommendations that are expected to apply throughout the summer of 2021 and will be reviewed regularly by CDPH. CDPH will depend on community monitoring including testing of unvaccinated persons to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. This guidance will remain in effect through September 2021 unless otherwise indicated by CDPH.

The recommendations should be followed unless stricter guidance is provided by local public health officials or other authorities. Other relevant factors include the number of campers, cabin size and ventilation, age of campers, length of camp, core activities, accommodations for campers with special needs, geographic draw of the camp, and location of the camp (including rate of COVID-19 in the area and distance from healthcare facilities), and availability of vaccination to campers.

Implementation of these guidelines should be tailored for each setting. Implementation requires training and support for staff and adequate consideration of campers and family needs.

This guidance may be updated as vaccine eligibility and coverage are expanded for adolescents and children.

Employers who fall under the scope of the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) must remain in compliance with these Standards.

If all camp staff and attendees are fully vaccinated* as defined in CDPH's Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Persons, camps may operate without any additional public health recommendations beyond existing Health and Safety and California Code of Regulations, Title 8, Section 3205.

If any camp staff and attendees are not fully vaccinated*, camps must:

  • Ensure use of face coverings as described in current CDPH Face Coverings guidance, including exemptions.

    • Masking is required indoors regardless of physical distancing and outdoors when six-feet physical distancing may not be maintained at all times.

    • Fully vaccinated campers and staff may follow the CDPH's Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Persons guidance regarding the appropriate use of face coverings.

If any camp staff and attendees are not fully vaccinated*, camps should also follow current CDC recommendations for overnight camps, including:

  • Each camp program should have an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) in place to protect staff, campers, families, and communities from the spread of COVID-19. Camp operators should review, update, and implement the EOP. This plan should be communicated with staff, families, and campers.

  • Campers and staff should be screened for COVID-19 symptoms, as well as a known recent close contact with a confirmed COVID case, when entering the camp (or before boarding camp transportation).

  • Camps should conduct daily symptom checking to monitor the health and well-being of camp staff and campers during the camp session.

  • Camps should implement strategies for when someone gets sick. Isolate staff or campers with symptoms immediately and refer them for testing. They should remain isolated until the test result is returned. Medical care should be provided as needed. If a person becomes sick and needs to be transported, establish procedures for safely transporting them.

  • Camps should identify an isolation room or area to separate anyone who exhibits COVID-like symptoms. If the camp has a nurse or other healthcare provider, they should be provided and wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including N95 respirators, and use Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions when caring for sick people. 

  • Camps should provide spaces for symptomatic and infected campers and staff to isolate on-site. Camps should also have procedures in place to help sick campers return home safely.

  • Camp operators should notify the local health department immediately following a positive test result, and work with local health department officials to identify close contacts.

CDPH also recommends the following additional measures to further mitigate risk of transmission or other health risks:

  • Pre-entry testing for unvaccinated campers and staff: Testing must be conducted within 72 hours before arrival, if using PCR. Antigen tests are acceptable and must be conducted within 24 hours of arrival. Results of the test must be available prior to entry into the camp. 

  • Consider requiring unvaccinated participants to quarantine at home for the 10-day period prior to camp arrival, in addition to the pre-entry testing for COVID-19 immediately prior to arrival requirement. All campers should undergo a health screening before arrival at the pickup location.

  • Upon arrival at camp, campers should be assigned to stable groups that will remain together for the entire camp session without mixing with other campers and staff in close contact circumstances.

  • As outlined in the CDPH Self-Isolation Instructions (PDF), staff or campers who are ill and/or have a positive COVID-19 test must not attend camp until:

    • A minimum of 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared,

    • Symptoms have improved, and

    • They have been fever-free for the last 24 hours (without using medicine that reduces fevers)

    • If asymptomatic:

    • 10 days have passed since specimen collection date.

  • As outlined in the CDPH Self-Quarantine Instructions (PDF), unvaccinated staff or campers who are exposed to a COVID-19 case must not attend camp until a minimum of 10 days have passed since their last exposure. If fully vaccinated, campers and staff may attend camp after exposure to a case so long as they remain asymptomatic. Restrict the camp to campers and staff, except for organized field/wilderness trips that comply with current public health recommendations in the area. Limit unnecessary visitors, and plan for safe interactions with necessary visitors such as vendors. 

  • Cabins, bunkhouses or similar defined spaces used for housing for staff at the camp must follow Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards specific to employer provided housing, which requires appropriate distancing between beds.

  • Maintain physical distancing when masking may not be possible.  Fully vaccinated campers and staff may follow the CDPH Fully Vaccinated Persons guidelines regarding appropriate physical distancing.  Physical distancing between staff and between staff and campers must be consistent with current CalOSHA ETS Standards. 

  • For face coverings:

    • Advise staff and campers to bring at least a seven-day supply of masks

    • For long-term camps (longer than a week) plan for laundering of reusable cloth masks. For more information on mask types, fit, and filtration, see CDPH Guidance on how to Get the Most Out of Masking.

  • Depending on the duration and stability of the camp staff, employers who have employees working at the camp should consider developing a worker COVID-19 testing program offering weekly testing of all workers who may encounter other workers, support staff, or attendees. PCR or antigen are permissible tests for workers where the interval between tests is no greater than seven days. Consult CDPH screening testing guidance for up to date recommendations.

  • For camps that extend beyond one week, periodic testing of unvaccinated attendees is also strongly recommended.

  • Refer to CDPH Travel Advisory for all attendees.

  • For indoor spaces, follow CDPH Guidance on Ventilation of Indoor Environments.

*The following are acceptable as proof of full vaccination: Vaccination card (which includes name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided and date last dose administered) OR a photo of a vaccination card as a separate document OR a photo of the attendee's vaccine card stored on a phone or electronic device OR documentation of vaccination from a healthcare provider

Originally Published on May 13, 2021