It’s easier to protect kids from coronavirus at sleepaway camp than day camp

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Jay Jacobs, who runs summer camps in New York and Pennsylvania, told CNBC on Tuesday that it can be easier to protect children from the coronavirus at sleepaway camps compared with day camps. 

“In resident camp, in sleepaway camp, certainly you can create a protected environment,” Jacobs said on “Squawk Alley.” “We’re certainly looking to do this. You can test your staff before they come to camp. You can test your campers before they come to camp and only accept those with negative tests, so you’ve already locked out Covid-19, at least initially.” 

Jacobs, CEO of the TLC Family of Camps, said another advantage to resident camps includes the ability to stop all out-of-camp trips, as well as the location, which tends to be in more rural communities.

“In day camp, it’s a different animal, because you have campers and staff coming in and going out on a day-by-day basis,” said Jacobs. “But again, by keeping groups small, by segregating groups so they have activities just with each other, you can have an interior, in-camp containment process going.” 

TLC Family of Camps has three resident camps, two of which are in New York in the Catskill Mountains while the other is in Tyler Hill, Pennsylvania. Its three day camps are in New York on Long Island. 

“Each has its own challenges,” said Jacobs. He added that an advantage of day camps is parent confidence, because they will be able to see their kids each night. 

“You certainly have to advise parents that if children aren’t feeling well, they should stay at home no matter what,” Jacobs said. “You’ve got to be doing temperature checks on children and staff when they come into camp. … We have to be careful, but we can monitor this.” 

Jacobs also stressed that their camps are not scheduled to begin until late June. 

“We’re not looking to open camp today, with the numbers you’re seeing today,” he said. “What we’re looking at and hopeful for is that the numbers that we see coming each and every day, a month from now, never mind in seven weeks or so when we open, … will be dramatically lower and that will help just naturally contain the virus before it even gets to the doors of our camps.” 

Jacobs said TLC Family of Camps had “strong” registration numbers prior to the coronavirus pandemic but some have since dropped. “I think most parents are in a wait-and-see mode,” he said. 

“I think many parents understand this: It’s not a zero-sum game. It’s not about, ‘Just don’t send your children to camp and then somehow they’re going to be safe.’ It doesn’t work like that,” he said, adding that children can also be at risk if they go outside and play in their neighborhoods.  

“Camps, I think, can make the environment safer, because we’re going to supervise it and structure it that way,” he said. 

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