My Kids Are Definitely Going To Camp (And Daycare) This Summer

by Kimberly Zapata
Originally Published: 
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It’s been more than a year since the COVID crisis began, and while numbers remain elevated, there is both optimism and hope. Many states are reopening, albeit slowly. Businesses are allowed to operate across the country within restriction and/or at a limited capacity. Millions have been vaccinated. According to recent reports, more than 100 million doses have been administered, and both President Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci are optimistic about the future.

“If we do this together… there is a good chance you, your family and friends can get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood [this summer] and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day,” Biden said earlier this month.

“After a long, hard year,” he added, “that will make this Independence Day truly special — where we not only mark our independence as a nation but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.” And Dr. Fauci echoed a similar sentiment. During an interview on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” Fauci said that at the current pace of vaccinations, the rate of COVID-19 infections per day will likely reach a “much lower level” by summer, and this could change our nation’s outlook.

“If we get into the summer and you have a considerable percentage of the population vaccinated and the level in the community gets below that plateau that’s worrying me and my colleagues in public health, it is conceivable that you would have a good degree of flexibility during the summer, even with the children, with things like camps,” Fauci said. And hoo-freakin-ray. We need it. I need it. Everyone needs a breather and a break. But that’s not the reason why I am choosing to send my children to daycare and summer camp.

I am choosing to send my kids to daycare and summer camp because I need to send them to daycare and summer camp. Because my personal and professional lives are contingent on my ability to work, i.e. my job doesn’t just “put food on the table” or “pay the bills,” it covers the cost of mental healthcare, which — in turn — makes me a better person and parent. I live with bipolar disorder and PTSD and need time (and money) to attend therapy. I am choosing to send my kids to daycare and summer camp because they need to go to daycare and summer camp. Because it is essential to their social, emotional, and mental development. And I am choosing to send my kids to daycare and summer camp because — for my family — it is essential.

Childcare is the only way we (all) can function and work.

“I kept my child enrolled in daycare so that I can be a better [person and] employee,” Rachael Hendricks — a mother and caseworker — told Scary Mommy earlier this month — a sentiment which I get. Which I relate to and understand.

Make no mistake: I have concerns about my decision. My son is two and his program is (more or less) indoors. I mean, there is a playground on the roof, one where the administrators assured me the kids spend ample time. The windows on the building remain open. There is a generous cross-breeze. But airflow isn’t the same thing as being outside in “the open air.” There is a certain degree of risk, one he doesn’t experience now with our in-home, COVID-vaccinated babysitter. However, we are selecting daycares and camps which adhere to strict COVID protocols.

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The staff members have been vaccinated. His teacher will be vaccinated, and when my daughter attends camp this summer, her provider will be vaccinated — just as her teacher is. She will be socially distanced and they will all wear masks. And that? That is something. It is (in these new and uncertain times) everything.

Fauci isn’t the only one looking toward the summer, camps, and our children’s future. This past week, the American Academy of Pediatrics released updated safety guidance for summer camps.

“We know children benefit greatly from spending time with other children, engaging in outdoor activities, playing, sharpening their mental skills, and finding creative outlets,” Dr. Sara Bode, a guidance author and member of the AAP Council on School Health, said in a press release. “The pandemic shut down much of that important socialization and activity, and parents likely are eager to send their children to summer camp so they can begin to regain some normalcy.”

Yup. Yup. And yup.

And while there is inherent risk, the AAP stated there is little evidence to show transmission of the virus among children and staff when safety protocols, including wearing masks, practicing distance and cleaning surfaces, are followed. “When camps closely follow safety protocols, this [they] can be a safe option,” Bode added. Vaccines and frequent testing will also help more camps (stay) open this summer.

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