Residential camps

Updated April 16, 2021.

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Overnight camps, including exempt overnight camps operating for less than 72 hours, should operate with restrictions and strong precautionary measures, as outlined in the guidance below.

IF THERE IS A CONFIRMED, PROBABLE, OR SUSPECTED CASE OF COVID-19 AMONG CAMPERS, CAMP STAFF, OR VOLUNTEERS, THE CAMP MUST:

  • Notify public health within 24 hours.
  • Provide public health with access to campers and staff for case investigation/contact tracing.
  • Allow public health to determine who is a close contact and placed in quarantine. 
    • All cabin-mates are considered close contacts. 
    • All members of cohorts are considered close contacts. 
    • All other staff, campers, volunteers who spent a cumulative of 15 minutes within 6 feet of the case. 
    • Mask use does not negate close contact designation.
  • Immediately offer COVID-19 testing for anyone with symptoms. 
    • Camp must have written, prior arrangement with a local medical provider to collect samples and send for testing. Arrange with families who will pay for testing.
  • Isolate suspected and confirmed cases, quarantine other campers and staff who were part of the ill camper’s established cohort or determined to be a close contact by public health, and monitor everyone involved.
    • People in quarantine and people in isolation must be separate at all times.
      • Quarantine groups should be as small as possible, as one member of the quarantine group being diagnosed with COVID-19 restarts quarantine for the rest of the group.
    • Provide food, housing, and access to medical care to all campers and staff in quarantine or isolation.
    • If it is not possible to quarantine and isolate staff and campers at camp, arrange appropriate lodging, such as a hotel. Provide food for all campers/staff in the hotel.
  • Ensure that staff members or campers who leave camps adhere to isolation and exclusion requirements, including limitations on travel.
    • Campers or staff who are in quarantine or isolation may not travel by air.
    • Campers of staff who are in quarantine or isolation may not leave the state of Colorado without permission from public health. 
    • Campers or staff who are in quarantine or isolation may not travel with others unless those people will quarantine with them. 
    • Campers or staff who are in quarantine or isolation may only travel by car if they can reach their destination without stopping (for gas, rest stops, etc.).
  • Isolation for confirmed, probable, and suspect cases of COVID-19 will last until:
    • 10 days from onset of symptoms (or specimen collection date if no symptoms); 
    • AND 24 hours fever-free without use of fever-reducing medications; 
    • AND improvement of symptoms.
  • Quarantine for all contacts of confirmed, probable, or suspect COVID-19 cases will last:
    • 7 days if no symptoms develop and a negative test collected on day 5-7 is obtained, plus masking and maintaining distance from others for a full 14 days.
    • 10 days if no symptoms develop, plus masking and maintaining distance from others for a full 14 days.
    • 14 days if masking or distancing is not possible.
    • If symptoms develop anytime during quarantine, isolation must begin. Testing is strongly recommended.

For additional COVID-related guidance or questions not addressed in this document, check with the local health department and follow any requirements for that jurisdiction.

Guidance for camp operators

Prior to camp
  • Establish a plan that includes the following:
    • Clear rules that establish cohort sizes and indoor and outdoor capacity limits based on  the level of community transmission and state and local orders.
    • Assessment of staffing needs, including the availability of substitute staff if staff or volunteers become ill or are exposed.
    • Protocols for responding to and reporting cases to local public health authorities, and CDPHE within 24 hours.
    • Protocols for detecting and reporting suspected and confirmed outbreaks to public health within 24 hours.
    • Protocols for daily active symptom screening for all staff, volunteers, and campers.
    • Protocols for staff, volunteers, and campers to alert health care staff to symptoms in themselves or other community members.
    • Protocols for coordinating access to testing with local health care providers if any campers or staff become symptomatic.
      • Prior to arrival at camp, camps must obtain written parental/guardian permission to test campers for COVID-19 while at camp.
    • Sufficient supplies for all of the following:
      • Public restrooms, drinkable water sources, and picnic or other eating areas during activities at outdoor locations, hand washing/hand sanitizing locations, and cleaning and disinfecting supplies.
    • Designation of a workplace coordinator(s) charged with addressing COVID-19 issues.
  • Distribute written COVID-19 plans to families before camp. Require parents to sign a copy of this plan and return it to the camp prior to camp session beginning. Camp is responsible for storing these documents. Plans must include:
    • Plans for testing symptomatic or exposed campers, staff, and volunteers.
      • Prior to arrival at camp, camps must obtain written parental/guardian permission to test campers for COVID-19 while at camp.
    • All suspect and confirmed cases will be reported to public health within 24 hours.
    • All suspect and confirmed outbreaks will be reported to public health  within 24 hours.
    • Public health makes the final determination of who is a close contact and will be placed in quarantine.
    • If a camper is placed in quarantine or isolation, the family must follow travel rules:
      • Campers or staff who are in quarantine or isolation may not travel by air. 
      • Campers of staff who are in quarantine or isolation may not leave the state of Colorado without permission from public health. 
      • Campers or staff who are in quarantine or isolation may not travel with others unless those people will quarantine with them. 
      • Campers or staff who are in quarantine or isolation may only travel by car if they can reach their destination without stopping (for gas, rest stops, etc.).
    • If parents would like to remove a camper in isolation or quarantine from camp, but cannot get them home while following the travel rules, the parent may choose to stay in a hotel with their child for the duration of quarantine or isolation.
      • Cost for this is covered by parents/guardians, as pre-determined in written camp COVID-19 plan. 
      • If a camper in quarantine develops COVID-19, their parent/guardian must remain in the hotel for the duration of their quarantine (i.e., if a child gets COVID-19, their parent will need to start a 7- or 10-day quarantine after 10th day of child’s isolation). 
      • No one in isolation/quarantine may leave the hotel room, including to obtain food.
  • Prepare procedures for isolating symptomatic or positive community members, and quarantining potentially exposed groups. If it is not possible to isolate or quarantine people at camp, make arrangements to place people in local hotels and provide food for them throughout the duration of their isolation or quarantine.
  • Provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff that supervise and care for ill community members. Must include:
    • N-95 or equivalent respirator (or face mask if unavailable); 
    • Gown; 
    • Gloves; 
    • and Eye protection.
  • Ensure space and resources are available to isolate ill staff and campers (e.g., cots, bedding, restrooms, and supervision). If space is not available, make plans to work with a local hotel and provide supervision for children in isolation, maintaining adult-child ratios per state child care regulations (7.711).
  • Train camp staff on the requirements of current Colorado public health orders as well as prevention, transmission, and care of COVID-19 illness.
  • Ensure, at minimum, the on-call availability of a nurse or health care professional per CDHS licensing rules, who should be trained in prevention, transmission, and care of COVID-19 illness.
While camp is in session, camp operators will:
  • Require six feet of physical distancing and masks at all times for all indoor activities, including recreation and food service.  This may limit the size of the group according to the size of the space.
  • Allow multiple groups indoors if the space is large enough to accommodate multiple cohorts while maintaining 12 feet of physical distancing between cohorts.
  • Require ventilation and masks or 6 feet of distancing for all individuals in vehicles and encourage the use of masks outdoors when distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Encourage additional layers of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) including ventilation, hygiene, screening, testing, prioritizing outdoor programs, cleaning, and stable cohorting for all camp activities.
  • Disallow non-essential visitors and external organizations from visiting camp/programs.
  • Follow guidance from the local health department regarding food service protocols and prohibit sharing of utensils. Prohibit family style service, prioritize outdoor and staggered meal service, and prohibit indoor chanting and singing during meals. Clean and disinfect dining areas and high touch surfaces between groups.
  • Utilize seating charts and maintain community records to enable contact tracing.
  • Provide community education and signage throughout camp to maintain required physical distancing, masking, respiratory etiquette, and hygiene.

Regarding campers, staff, and volunteer health, camp operators:
  • Upon arrival, screen staff, volunteers, and campers for symptoms and exposures to COVID-19 in the previous 14 days. Exclude and/or isolate ill individuals from the camp, facilitate testing for these individuals, and provide housing for them during isolation/quarantine. They are not permitted to travel home, unless complying with the travel rules above.
  • Screen all camp community members daily to ensure they are symptom-free before they are cleared to participate in camp activities and work.
  • Require handwashing with soap and running water before eating, and at regular intervals throughout the day. Use hand sanitizer when handwashing is not available.
  • Provide testing and appropriate health care for sick camp community members and use the Colorado COVID-19 Symptom Support tool.
  • Establish protocols for groups of staff and volunteers to remain, to the extent possible, with the same group of campers.
  • Communicate with all families of enrolled campers about  occurrences of COVID-19 at the camp and the camp’s response within 24 hours of the case.
  • Encourage staff and campers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if possible.

Regarding camp programming:
  • Camps should consider altering activities and scheduling to reflect current recommendations for layered NPI usage, such as staggering activities and limiting activities that are not conducive to maintaining 6 feet distance or masking.
  • Camps with outdoor day and overnight trips should follow outdoor cohorting protocols and standard permit requirements. Multiple NPIs should be used as appropriate.
  • Ensure sufficient cleaning and disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces, equipment, and vehicles throughout the camp, especially between group uses.
Resident camp cohorts
  • Cohorting: the practice of keeping the same campers and staff in the same small group at all times during the day. Ideally, staff cohorts should be maintained for the full camp season, and camper cohorts should be maintained for the duration of their stay. Cohorting helps limit the number of contacts each individual has. As a result, if quarantines are needed, they may affect fewer people, resulting in fewer disruptions to the camp community.
  • Cohorting guidance may vary with incidence rate and local ordinances. Camps are required to follow state and local indoor and outdoor cohort and capacity limits.