Organisers of Jewish summer camps around the world were looking to Maine in the United States this week to provide a possible opening model that takes account of Covid-19 precautions.
Camp Modin has said it will open on 9 July and set out a raft of measures to keep campers and counsellors safe, having worked through the changes with epidemiologists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Staff and children, many of whom live in the nearby city of Boston, are to be tested well in advance of arrival via at-home test kits, and again throughout the summer.
The traditional buffet line for meals is being replaced with table-by-table service using disposable plates and cups. Communal bathrooms will close and parents driving their children to camp must drop them off in designated staging areas at a safe distance.
All activities will take place on camp, meaning that the 300 campers plus staff will “create their own three-week bubble”, according to Ron Hall, executive director of Maine Summer Camps, an umbrella group.
Camp co-director Howard Salzberg said: “Covid-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future. The children have lost in-person learning, they’ve lost art, they’ve lost sports and being part of a team – how long is that acceptable for children?”
Salzberg, who runs the camp with his wife, added that they felt they had to “give the kids a return to normalcy and to mitigate the risk as best we can”.
Dozens of Jewish summer camps across the world have already announced they will not be running this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Salzberg said the virus “does not adversely affect children and young healthy adults. The hospitalisation rate of children with Covid is one-in-100,000”.
In 2009, the Modin Camp was hit with swine flu, which affected more than 130 campers, after having experienced outbreaks of measles and meningitis in the 1990s, but Salzberg said this year it was “the staff who are taking the risk”, adding that all staff members “were given the choice to come or not come, and they’re all in”.