Kanakuk Kamps, a network of Christian sports camps in the state, reopened to thousands of kids beginning in May
While many summer camps across the country have been debating on how best to serve their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, a Missouri-based Christian summer camp is now closed after 82 staff members and campers tested positive for COVID-19. State health officials say the number could be higher as time goes on.
Kanakuk Kamps, a network of Christian sports camps in the state, reopened their camps to over 20,000 kids beginning in May — despite the fact that Missouri officials said there was a risk in letting camps reopen. According to NBC News, Kanakuk Kamps felt “confident” they had solid plans in place to stop any potential COVID-19 outbreaks. While many summer camps have gone “virtual” this year, Kanakuk has been open for business as usual.
PEOPLE magazine reports that parents of Kanakuk campers were recently notified by email that one of the camps known as K-2, in Lampe, was temporarily shutting down after staff and campers contracted the coronavirus. The email came from Rebecca Duncan, Kanakuk’s health services director, advising them that their children may have been exposed.
“As your Kamper returns home, we recommend that you consider a 14-day self-quarantine for your child and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19,” the email read, per NBC News.
The Stone County Health Department posted an update on the numbers on their Facebook page on July 2: 41 campers, counselors and staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. Those infected had come from 10 different states and multiple counties in Missouri.
“Kanakuk is working with SCHD and made the decision to shut down the K-2 camp for this term after being alerted to the suspected COVID-19 cases,” the statement reads. “The decision to close has resulted in all campers, counselors and staff to return to their homes. SCHD will be working closely with Kanakuk Kamps to identify exposed individuals and quarantine those individuals, as necessary. More information will be released as it becomes available.”
Keeping kids engaged all summer long after spending the last quarter of their school year learning at home on screens presents a challenge for parents everywhere. It’s understandable that everyone would be eager to have outdoor camps re-open, giving kids something constructive and enjoyable to do to expend their energy. It also gives parents a much-needed break. But those things come with major risks to mitigate during a global pandemic.
According to NBC News, two YMCA summer camps in Georgia opened and then closed right away after a counselor tested positive for COVID. A Colorado camp had an outbreak among the staff members while prepping for summer campers — the camp hadn’t even opened yet, and now it definitely won’t. In Pennsylvania, one camp decided they were postponing their opening day after a group of staff members tested positive during orientation.
All of these outbreaks at summer camps could be a precursor to what school will look like during the upcoming school year. New York City recently released its plans for public schools in the fall, focusing on staggered schedules and social distancing. Many schools across the country are likely considering similar options — here’s hoping they’re all listening to experts and not Donald Trump.
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