Overnight Summer Camps

COVID19 Prevention Checklist Industry Guidance

Last updated: Apr 30, 2021

The State of Maine has adopted a multi-layered approach to COVID-19 guidance—supported by science, public health expertise, and industry collaboration—to help Maine businesses and community organizations operate safely. As we enter the second year of the pandemic, these updated guidelines highlight the importance of employing multi-layered mitigation strategies to keep Maine businesses, employees, and residents as safe as possible from COVID-19 transmission. Public health guidance will continue to evolve as we learn which mitigation strategies most effectively reduce transmission risk.

No single measure or action will completely prevent transmission of COVID-19. Use of multiple strategies—sometimes called layered mitigation—provides greater protection than implementing a single strategy alone. When multiple mitigation strategies—including masking, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and ventilation—are consistently and correctly used, risk of transmission is decreased. 

Certain business sectors and activities may have additional guidance specific to those settings. Please make sure you pair this general guidance with industry-specific guidance available at https://www.maine.gov/decd/covid-19-prevention-checklists.

For the latest information on travel policies and Executive Orders related to COVID-19 visit the Office of the Governor’s COVID-19 Response website: https://www.maine.gov/covid19.

Overnight Summer Camps

  1. Single-session camps can consider larger group gatherings of camp participants for dining and group programs, however, larger group gatherings, especially inside buildings, increase the potential of communicable disease spreading. Mitigation for these gatherings could include splitting large group sizes into smaller groups (by ”household”), outdoor programming, dining and programmatic changes to minimize mixing, strict physical distancing between ‘households’ and masking.
  2. Multiple-session camps must be aware that new cohorts of campers pose an increased risk of new communicable disease, and make plans to mitigate this risk for camp program duration, using smallest practicable groupings, outdoor programming, dining and programmatic changes to minimize mixing between ”households”, testing, strict physical distancing and masking.
  3. Out-of-state campers and staff must adhere to the requirements of the Moving Maine Forward plan, completing the required testing or quarantine prior to camper arrival.
    1. Please note that International Travel may be subject to additional testing and quarantine requirements.
  4. Summer camp programs are strongly encouraged to develop a testing strategy at this time. U.S. campers and staff who are not fully vaccinated are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 Test (antigen or PCR) ideally 72 hours, prior to arrival at camp.
    1. Establishing a testing cadence after arrival is strongly encouraged.
    2. Camps with post-arrival testing can consider enlargement of cohorts beyond cabin/household groups.
    3. Camps should strongly consider the diligence with which all other public health measures must be undertaken to prevent transmission if post arrival testing is not conducted and to act accordingly to obtain diagnostic testing for camper and staff with symptoms suspected to have COVID-19.
  5. Guidelines for behaviors allowed due to vaccination status are continuing to be determined and may be updated prior to the summer season.  
  6. Please be aware that camps will be subject to closure per CDC recommendations if there is an outbreak within the camp.
  7. Camps are encouraged to review the American Camp Association's operations guide for more specific recommendations on running a camp for the 2021 season.
  1. General Operations
    1. Camps of all sessions and lengths may operate.
    2. Common areas must adhere to capacity limits. Camps should refer to the Office of the Governor’s COVID-19 Response website for current gathering capacity limits.
    3. Training
      1. Camps should create and train all staff and campers on the camps’ COVID-19 Communicable Disease Guidelines, including their role in compliance with prevention guidelines.
      2. Post signs on how to stop the spread of COVID-19, properly wash hands, promote everyday protective measures, and properly wear a mask.
      3. Teach use of masks among staff working outside their cabin or programming cohorts. Staff should be frequently reminded not to touch the mask and to wash their hands frequently. Information should be provided to all staff on proper use, removal, and disposal or washing of masks. Masks are required indoors and recommended outdoors when 6 feet of physical distance is difficult to maintain. (Updated 4/30/21)
      4. Provide educational materials in advance to parents and guardians for sharing with children prior to camp and reinforce awareness at staff and camper orientation and periodically thereafter for all throughout the camp experience.
  2. Health Screening/Surveillance
    1. Pre-Arrival & Arrival
      1. Camp administrators may use examples of screening methods in CDC’s Supplemental Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open as a guide for screening children and CDC's Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers for screening staff.
      2. Require parents to keep sick children home before arriving at camp and require staff to stay home if they are ill.
      3. Pre-arrival Screening of Campers and Staff: Recommend use of a pre-arrival screening by having campers and staff complete a self-screening tool during a 7-10 day period prior to their arrival at camp and provide it to the camp during check-in procedures.
      4. Camps are strongly discouraged from admitting staff and campers who are symptomatic for COVID-19. Implement health screenings in accordance with any applicable privacy laws or regulations. Confidentiality should be maintained.
      5. Health screening should be done upon arrival of staff and campers and throughout the camp experience at the discretion of the camp medical staff and in accordance with camp’s communicable disease plan.
      6. Quarantine:
        1. Out-of-state campers and staff must adhere to the requirements of the Moving Maine Forward plan, completing the required testing or quarantine prior to camper arrival.
        2. See transportation section for International Travel quarantine. 
      7. Testing: 
        1. Campers and staff who are not fully vaccinated are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 Test (antigen or PCR), ideally 72 hours prior to arrival at camp.
        2. Establishing a testing cadence after arrival is strongly encouraged. Camps with post-arrival testing can consider enlargement of cohorts beyond cabin/household groups.
        3. Camps should strongly consider the diligence with which all other public health measures must be undertaken to prevent transmission if post arrival testing is not conducted and to act accordingly to obtain diagnostic testing for camper and staff with symptoms suspected to be COVID-19.
      8. Worker Health
        1. Screen staff for symptoms of COVID and exposures to positive COVID. Staff will arrive at camp and remain at camp for the duration of a 10-day quarantine. Consider daily health screening of local workers. Consider minimizing staff travel off camp facilities for the duration of the summer.
    2. End of Program
      1. Daily surveillance will continue through the end of camp. Campers or staff that develop possible COVID symptoms during this time will have increased surveillance and consider testing to determine COVID status prior to travel home. Camps must consider private travel options for campers who are demonstrating potential symptoms of COVID.
  3. High Risk Populations 
    1. Vulnerable or high-risk populations require special consideration for camping programs.
    2. Camp directors should work with camper parents and primary care providers to determine if camp is a reasonably safe option for them.
    3. Families of campers with high-risk individuals must consider COVID exposure risks if they send their child to camp and determine if safe.
    4. Vaccination is strongly recommended for all who are eligible and even more so for individuals who are at higher risk.
    5. Camp staff should consider whether they can work safely in camp if they have any conditions that might place them at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. For the most up to date information on this topic, see US CDC guidance on conditions that place individuals at increased risk of severe illness (see: People with Certain Medical Conditions).
  4. Physical Distancing, Group Size & Cohorting
    1. Camp administrators should separate camp and staff into “households” that remain consistent over the camp program and ideally are sleeping groups or a small collection of sleeping groups. The smallest practical group size should be considered. Mixing between “households” should be discouraged.
    2. When within a cohort on camp premises, staff and campers act as a ‘family unit’ and are not required to wear masks or physically distance. 
    3. Physical distancing between cohorts is most important in settings where masks cannot be worn such as dining facilities and swimming areas.
    4. Limit “households” to the smallest practical group size based upon cabin arrangements. Sleeping areas should be arranged maximizing the space between campers/staff. If possible, divide larger cabins into smaller sleeping groups. Bedding should be arranged head-to-toe.
    5. Space seating indoors and outdoors at least 6 feet apart between “households’ (for example, bunks or cabins).
    6. The number of individuals that can gather in a shared space must not exceed the limit established by the latest relevant Executive Order from the Office of the Governor.
      1. People in a shared space must be able to maintain 6 feet of physical distance from individuals who are not in their “household”. If a space cannot accommodate individuals maintaining 6 feet of physical distance, further restrict the number of individuals allowed in that space beyond the limits established by Executive Order.
    7. If a dining hall is typically used, consider serving meals in smaller “households” rather than the entire camp at one time and adhere to indoor capacity limits.
    8. Serve food in a manner that allows for distancing between ‘households’ If buffet lines are used, use of a single server and serve a single cohort at a time to minimize close exposures during food service.
    9. Create processes for using bathrooms that encourage physical distancing.
    10. Consider limiting large gatherings, events, and extracurricular activities to those that can be done outdoors and maintain physical distancing between cohorts.  Manage communal use spaces, shared facilities, and playgrounds to avoid large gatherings.
  5. Promote practices 
    1. Teach and reinforce washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes among children and staff.
    2. Have adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors, including soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer), tissues, and no-touch trashcans.
    3. Masks: Masks must be worn at all times outside cohorts when age and developmentally appropriate, with the exception of activities that cannot be done masked (e.g. sleeping, eating, swimming and showering) which should be done by cohort.  Masks are required indoors and recommended outdoors when 6 feet of physical distance is difficult to maintain. (Updated 4/30/21)
      1. Disposable masks should be made available onsite. 
      2. Masks should have two or more layers of breathable washable fabric, completely cover the nose and mouth, should fit snugly against the sides of the face and not have gaps, and have a nose wire to prevent from leaking out the top of the mask. Gaitors should only be used if they have two or more layers. See the CDC Guide to Masks for most updated guidance.
      3. Dining staff should wear masks when preparing and serving food.
    4. Facilities & Vendor Deliveries: Facilities staff and vendors will wear masks.
    5. Health Center: PPE for health staff will be consistent with CDC guidelines for its use in suspected communicable disease including the consideration of N95, procedural masks, and eye protection.
  6. Limit Sharing
    1. Ensure adequate supplies to minimize sharing of high-touch materials assigned to a single camper or cohort (i.e. art supplies) and/or ensure hand washing/sanitizing before and after touching objects.
    2. Consider pre-packaged boxes or individual bags of snacks to avoid sharing by campers and staff. Provide pre-plated meals for each camper and staff, where possible. Avoid sharing of foods and utensils by campers as in a buffet or serving line.                                                                                      
  7. Cleaning, Disinfection and Ventilation
    1. Refer to the CDC cleaning guidance for general information.
    2. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces within the camp and on buses at least daily (for example door handles, sink handles, drinking fountains).
    3. To clean and disinfect buses see guidance for bus transit operators.
    4. Ensure safe and correct application of disinfectants and keep products away from children.
    5. Ensure that ventilation systems operate properly and take steps to improve ventilation in the building.
      1. Increase the percentage of outdoor air (e.g., using economizer modes of HVAC operations) potentially as high as 100% (first verify compatibility with HVAC system capabilities for both temperature and humidity control as well as compatibility with outdoor/indoor air quality considerations).
      2. Increase total airflow supply to occupied spaces, if possible.
      3. Disable demand-control ventilation (DCV) controls that reduce air supply based on temperature or occupancy.
      4. Use natural ventilation (i.e., opening windows if possible and safe to do so) to increase outdoor air dilution of indoor air when environmental conditions and building requirements allow.
      5. Consider relocating operations to outdoor spaces or other nontraditional venues that allow for increased airflow, if possible. 
    6. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Take steps to ensure that all water systems and features (for example, drinking fountains, decorative fountains) are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown to minimize the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and other diseases associated with water.
    7. Clean sinks and bottle filling stations frequently. Provide disposable cups for water fountains and refillable water jugs.
  8. Programmatic Considerations
    1. Camps should consider altering programmatic activities to reflect current recommendations for masking, physical distancing, and cohorts.
    2. Planning should include accommodations for inclement weather that could impact physical distancing of staff and campers.
    3. Wilderness Activities: Camps with overnight wilderness trips should plan trip groups that are consistent their camp cohort. Trips should be done as a cohort and masking should be used in the vehicle during transport.
    4. Camp administrators should restrict arrival to camp and departure from camp to the extent possible. Camps should consider having staff with direct camper contact (for example, bunk counselors, activity and program leaders) remain on campgrounds or, after period of quarantine, participate in low risk off camp activities. Campers and staff leaving camp and returning must wear masks indoors and should be discouraged from visiting public areas such as restaurants, entertainment or retail settings (where physical distancing cannot be maintained and/or masks cannot be worn). (Updated 4/30/21)
    5. Visitors, Parents & Field Trips:
      1. To the extent possible, restrict nonessential visitors, entertainers, volunteers, and activities involving outside groups.
      2. Field trips, socials and inter-camp games to public gathering and recreational places should be avoided. It may be possible to permit small groups to day travel to nearby recreational areas where close interactions with the external community is not expected. For example, taking campers for equestrian sessions, transporting cyclists to go mountain biking or campers traveling offsite for a canoe trip.
      3. Camps may not host large gatherings of non-camp members on camp premises including parent visiting days.
  9. Pools and other aquatic activities
    1. Camps should consider decreasing pool capacity to allow for physical distancing between household groups.
    2. Camps should consider single lane swimming to facilitate physical distancing.
    3. Keep swimming pools properly cleaned and disinfected. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (with chlorine or bromine) of swimming pools should kill the virus that causes COVID-19.
    4. Masks should not be worn in the pool.
    5. For water playgrounds and water parks, refer to the Indoor/Outdoor Amusements checklist for guidance.
    6. Swimming in the ocean, lakes, and ponds is allowed. Physical distancing must be maintained on any beach areas. Masks are recommended outdoors when 6 feet of physical distance is difficult to maintain. (Updated 4/30/21)
  10. Transportation
    1. Camp directors are encouraged to arrange for camper and staff travel that minimize exposures outside the camp community. This could include charter buses or flightsdirect-to-camp/direct-to-home transportation.
    2. Camps counselors should cohort campers upon arrival to the airport. Camp directors should remind out-of-state parents of the testing and self-quarantine requirements for visitors to Maine as described in the Moving Maine Forward plan.
    3. Create physical distance between children on transport vans and buses where possible. Always use masks on transportation.
    4.  International camp participants are allowed to travel in line with U.S. CDC Guidelines.​​​​​​​
      1. Effective January 26, Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires all air passengers entering the United States (including U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents) to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days​. 
      2. Maine International Travel Guidance requires 7 days of quarantine and a negative COVID-19 test within 3-5 days of arrival.
  11. Communication with State and Local Public Health Authorities 
    1. Camps will ensure timely and accurate reporting to the Maine CDC for all notifiable diseases and conditions, including COVID-19. In the event of a positive case, Maine CDC should be called immediately at 1-800-821-5821 and faxed a disease report to 1-800-293-7534.
    2. Camp directors should ensure a single point of contact for communication and familiarize themselves with Maine CDC reporting protocols and contact methods.
  12. COVID and COVID-Like Illness Management
    1. Campers and staff with potential COVID symptoms must be isolated, and management will be determined by camp as to whether isolation/quarantine will be monitored on camp premises or such community members will be managed at home.
    2. Health Centers:
      1. Monitor Health Center logs to identify illness patterns.
      2. Consider adjusting Health Center processes to promote social physical distancing and triaging individuals in the Health Center that promotes physical distancing between camp participants with potential COVID-19 symptoms.
      3. Train Health Center staff to follow camp communicable disease strategies: don/doff PPE, steps in camps communicable disease plans. Camp healthcare providers should use Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions when caring for sick people. See: What Healthcare Personnel Should Know About Caring for Patients with Confirmed or Possible COVID-19 Infection.
      4. Create a system for camps to communicate with public health officials, nearby healthcare facilities, families, and other stakeholders. Children or staff worsening in their symptomatology should be referred to an external healthcare facility.
      5. Create a communication system for staff and families to self-report symptoms and notification of exposures.
      6. When a camper or staff is identified with potential COVID symptoms, this person will be isolated and quarantined from camp activities until COVID status can be determined.
      7. Work with camp leaders and healthcare providers to identify an isolation area in camp to separate anyone who exhibits COVID-like symptoms.
      8. Follow the camp’s communicable disease plan that includes guidelines for isolation and transportation of individuals to local healthcare facilities for testing, if necessary, and with the potential of return to home.
      9. In the event of a confirmed case by viral PCR testing, notify State and local health officials as required, staff, and families in accord with the CDP while maintaining confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
      10. Per camp’s communicable disease plan, identify campers and staff with potentially high intensity contact (‘households’) and increase surveillance or consider quarantine of these individuals.
      11. Enhance health screening surveillance for close contacts within the camp group and limit interactions of this group with other groups.
      12. Clear and close off recent areas used by an ill camper/staff and do not use before cleaning and disinfection. Ensure safe and correct application of disinfectants by staff and keep disinfectant products away from children. Arrange for a deep cleaning of the camper’s overnight area and the staff’s workspace.
      13. Adjust camper and staff policies to reflect the need for a COVID-suspected or COVID-positive individual to be immediately isolated from the larger camp community.
      14. If camper or staff are confirmed positive for COVID-19, isolate according to plans, test when possible, and advise these staff members not to return until they have met CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation.
      15. As part of the communicable disease plan, the camp can decide to monitor and isolate or send home those individuals exposed to a person with COVID-19 in order to self-monitor for symptoms, and follow CDC guidance for isolation, if symptoms develop.
  13. Camp activities
    1. Not all regular camp activities may be appropriate when adhering to best practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Different activities carry different levels of risk based on contact intensity and duration, as well as the number of participants. COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets; therefore, activities that increase the spread of such droplets (e.g. singing or yelling in the close proximity of others) also carry increased risk. Camps are encouraged to focus on activities that require less group contact—this can include altering typical activities to reduce transmission risk.

COVID-19 Prevention Form

In order to open, if you have not already done so, please commit to complying with requirements of these checklists by filling out this short online form. Please note that religious organizations and licensed health care providers are not required to use this form.

If you have questions, please contact us at business.answers@maine.gov or 1-800-872-3838.