Rapid return to normal activities at a residential summer camp during the COVID-19 pandemic

A. Klunk, R. Holloway, A. Babaoff, E. B. Jelin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Infection prevention and control (IPC) within residential settings is a central focus of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Youth residential summer camps are an excellent model for such environments and have thus far had mixed results. The aim of this report was to describe the successful implementation of a seven-week overnight summer camp with rapid return to normal activities from June to August 2020. Subjects and methods: This retrospective study included 427 individuals who traveled from 24 US states. All staff and campers were tested by serial nasopharyngeal PCR tests in the context of strict infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, including cohorts and masking. The entire camp population was isolated from non-camp personnel with special measures for food, supply, and mail delivery. Results: During the two-week staff session, one staff member tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, was isolated, and sent safely off premises. All other campers and staff had three negative PCR tests: 1–8 days before arrival, upon arrival, and 5–6 days after arrival. After these three negative tests, 6 days into camp, most IPCs, including masking, were successfully lifted and a normal camp experience was possible. Conclusions: These findings indicate that serial PCR-based testing and strict adherence to IPC measures among cohorts can allow for successful assumption of near normal group activities in a residential setting during the COVID-19 pandemic. This result at an overnight summer camp has broad implications for similar residential communities such as boarding schools, other youth education and development programs, as well as nursing homes and military installations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Public Health (Germany)
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Infection prevention
  • Quarantine
  • Residential camp
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Serial testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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