Summer day camps in Colorado are allowed to start June 1.
Gov. Jared Polis announced guidelines on Monday that give the greenlight to day camps, but residential camps must wait. The decision on whether overnight camps can open in July and August will come in a few weeks.
The guidelines require day camps to maintain physical distancing and maximum group sizes of 25 children outdoors and 10 children per room indoors. Employees must wear masks where possible, and campers must wear masks during transportation to and from the camp.
“Colorado kids will be able to enjoy day camps and youth sports camps this summer in as safe a manner as possible,” Polis said in a statement. “The risk, though less, is still very real, and it’s up to families to make the best decisions that work for them. We also appreciate the critical role that day camps, along with daycare, which has already been operating in as safe a manner as reasonably possible, play in supporting working parents.”
That the guidelines allow larger groups of children outdoors was a pleasant surprise for Amy Anderson, the executive director of RESCHOOL, a Colorado nonprofit that focuses on closing education gaps, in part through supporting out-of-school programming.
“For camps that do a lot of things outdoors, like Bikes Together and Avid4 Adventure, … that might actually be something they see as a bonus because they were previously planning on not having more than 10 kids together,” said Anderson.
More capacity is a boon for working parents who rely on camps for child care. Some camps are still waiting for local decisions that will affect their operations.
“The other challenge we’re seeing with some of our afterschool and summer programs is they historically access Denver Public Schools facilities and rec centers and those kinds of things for camps, and I don’t know where the city’s going to fall,” Anderson explained. “These are the state guidelines, and how will they compare with the city guidelines?”
Some large camp providers, like the Denver Zoo and Denver Center for the Performing Arts, decided weeks ago that they would not run this summer. But many now plan to open, adjusting their programs to meet state guidelines.
For overnight camps, the situation is more complicated. Anderson was surprised that the state will wait until mid-June to make the decision about whether they can open for the rest of the summer. .
“It’s almost impossible for them to be able to plan and pull those off,” said Anderson. “It’s going to be a real challenge.”
Emily Reis of Louisville planned to send her 10-year-old and 12-year-old to Cheley Colorado Camps for three weeks in July. Now it’s unclear if that will be possible.
She said she would consider day camps as an alternative, but she’s concerned about finding available spots.
“Some of the ones I know about have canceled,” said Reis. “I need to seek out something that maybe we’re not familiar with and just see what their policies are and what we can slide into.”