Overnight summer camps are back in Virginia

In Virginia, overnight camps will be back in session this summer and registration is now open. However, a majority of FOX 5 viewers say they’re not so sure about sending their kids.

Congressional School in Falls Church runs as one of the region’s most popular summer day camps. They were lucky to open for part of last summer whereas overnight camps have been closed since summer 2019. That is nearly two years.

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The Director of Auxiliary Programs, Dan O’Neil, told FOX 5 these programs are needed.

"We even learned last summer it’s really important for our teachers and staff members to really be back working with kids in person and letting them enjoy the social, emotional, as well as the challenges of activities and that fun – that’s what summer’s supposed to be," said O’Neil.

Starting May 1, overnight camps can reopen. The guidelines in place require campers and staff will be required to wear masks and wash their hands frequently. Social distancing signage must be visible around campgrounds.

For the first 14 days of any camp session, kids and teens will have to stay in small groups of no more than 25 campers. Kyle Chones with Salvation Army Camp Happyland about the big difference campers will notice this year.

"We’re going to do a lot of outdoor activities just like any other camp this summer. That will probably continue on who knows how long this situation we’re in right now goes. The kids are going to be very excited. If your kids have been inside all day, they want to be able to get outside," said Chones.

FOX 5's Sierra Fox talked with Camp Easterseals Virginia that serves children and adults with specials needs. Their camp director, Alex Barge, said the camp has taken a big financial hit which would make it difficult to reopen.

"Overnight camps have been the only industry that have not been allowed to open throughout this at all so none of us in Virginia have been able to open period," said Barge.

They did a survey and 80% of campers are willing to come back this year. However, they’re on the fence about reopening and here’s one reason why they may not be able to:

"Many overnight camps rely on international staff so getting international staff will be a challenge like our staff in the UK right now are either in lockdown or coming off lockdown so they haven’t been able to get their visas and go to their Embassy’s to get that stuff taken care of," said Barge.

Camp directors say if you are interested in signing up your child for camp, do it sooner rather than later because there are limited spots.

Campers will not be required to show a negative COVID-19 test in order to attend, according to the Virginia Department of Health.