Tampa camps prepare for summer as CDC issues new COVID-19 guidance


TAMPA (WFLA) – As the school year winds down, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new COVID-19 guidance for summer camps.

Eight On Your Side spoke with parents Monday who said they feel more comfortable sending their children back to camp this summer.

Instead of sitting at home watching “TVs, tablets and phones,” Shannon Kightlinger said she has enrolled her daughter in the summer camp at the Circle C Ranch Academy in South Tampa.

Similar to the social distancing guidance in schools, children in the same group can get within three feet from each other at summer camp when they’re not eating or drinking, the CDC said. Another main recommendation is for camps to promote as much outdoor activity as possible.

Mask wearing is still advised to limit the spread of the virus. The CDC said counselors and other adults to stay at least six feet away from the campers.

“The big difference between us and being in school is we keep them active,” said Sherisha Hills, the interim director for the City of Tampa Department of Parks and Recreation.

While keeping COVID-19 health & safety protocols in place like mask-wearing, temperature checks, and health questionnaires, Hills told 8 On Your Side city camps are doubling the starting enrollment this year from 25 to 50 percent.

“A lot of parents are having to return to the office so this gives them the opportunity to know they have a safe environment for their kids to stay active,” Hills said.

While working from home, Andy Young doubled as his daughter’s camp counselor in 2020.

“I really enjoyed it cause my daddy was clever coming up with all sorts of things to do like build this lego thing, write a story about it,” Meredith Young, a third-grade student, said. “So it was pretty fun but I do think I’d like to go to summer camp a little more.”

This summer Young said he is less concerned about sending her to a traditional camp and the Circle C Ranch Academy is one option they’re considering.

“I was very worried when she first went back to school and since I’m vaccinated I feel like I’m gonna be OK,” Young said. “Even if it doesn’t protect me from not getting (coronavirus), the chances of me getting very sick are almost nothing.”

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