The coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of many summer camps in 2020, but lawmakers in Montgomery County, Maryland, don’t want that to happen again.
“They’re really essential to the social and emotional growth of our kids, plus a lot of us rely on them for professional child care in the summer when schools are closed,” said Tom Hucker, the president of the Montgomery County Council.
According to documents released ahead of a council meeting next week, council members plan to consider a list of restrictions meant to open camps safely by keeping groups smaller and ensuring that everything stays local.
“We are considering a new board of health regulation that would add some guidance for the operation of summer camps,” said Hucker.
Under the guidance, only campers from Maryland, Virginia and D.C. would be allowed to attend camps in the county.
Camps would need to separate participants into groups of no larger than 25 for indoor activities and 50 for outdoor activities, and members from a group would not be allowed to mix with members of a different group at the camp.
“While we want to allow summer camps, we want to do it safely,” Hucker added. “Part of that is limiting the size.”
Council members are schedule to vote on the restrictions Tuesday morning. Members of the public can sign up to testify and give their opinions before the vote takes place.
Testimony can be given virtually via video or through a written statement.
During this time last year, parents around the country learned that their children’s summer camps would be canceled, delayed or moved online due to fallout from the pandemic.
It was a blow for children and their parents who spent weeks cooped up during school closures.
An estimated 20 million U.S. children attend summer camp each year, fueling an $18 billion industry that employs over a million seasonal workers, according to the American Camp Association.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.