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Arizona summer camps adjust to new outdoor CDC guidelines

PHOENIX — Erica Knight, a mother to four boys, is so happy that in-person summer camps are back.

"They want to be playing and they want to be with other kids, let's not take that away from them. We take them to a Valley camp where it's basically a big room, where they let them play sports and run around for eight hours," she said.

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As families look forward to summertime, many parents like Knight are planning to send their kids to camp. Like last year, there are plenty of options out there, even with new CDC guidelines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its guidance for summer camps in order to keep campers COVID-free this season, so they can learn in a safe environment.

-Masks required
-Social distancing
-Limited indoor activity
-Small groups, if necessary
-Negative viral test results one to three days before camp
-Vaccinated staff and counselors
-Testing after camp for those who aren't fully vaccinated:
-They should get tested three to five days after traveling home, and self- quarantine for seven days after travel.

Meanwhile, kids camps all over the Valley are returning with options that aim to accommodate everyone. Zach Gray, program director for the "Engineering for Kids" Camp, said they're ready and aware of the new CDC guidelines, which recommend COVID-19 testing and vaccines for staff.

"We're going to be playing things safe just as we did last year, a lot of our parents. We're really happy that we even had something to offer in the first place. In our classroom, we have a lower enrollment cap, so our kids are going to be more spaced out, may not necessarily need to wear masks in every situation depending on how big the rooms are but you can find specific information on our site," he said.

The CDC is also recommending "proof of a negative viral test taken no more than one to three days before arriving at camp."

For those parents who don't want their kids in masks all day, Gray said there is another option.

"Virtual camps, we have them again this year, last summer they were very successful, very fun, where we bring a lot of the same and we run them online through zoom, just like this where kids can collaborate just like they have through the school year," he said.

Plus, the CDC notes, because vaccines are not authorized for children of all ages, yet, the amended rules are recommended for participants and camp counselors, vaccinated or not and to maintain social distancing, something the Chandler Center for the Arts is implementing for camps.

"Three feet for campers, six feet for adults during pick up and drop off, we will have two cohorts of campers so we can split into small groups and masks will be required unless actively eating or drinking," Terri Rettig said.

Lastly, the updated guidance emphasizes activities should be outdoors as much and as often as possible.

Authored by: Rachel Cole, 12 News

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