As of Friday, all Pennsylvania counties are technically considered green, but some, like Philadelphia, have restrictions.
Per that guidance, camps that opened should to space out kids on buses and indoors, enforce mask-wearing, and preferably limit campers’ interactions by keeping them with the same small cohort for the entirety of their camp stay.
Staff at YMCA Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer in Beaver County also arrived at the conclusion that it just wasn’t worth it.
“Even when we follow the guidelines perfectly, we can’t guarantee safely,” said executive director Dave DeLuca in a video posted to YouTube. “Camp is all about closeness and relationships, not social distancing.”
If the logistical puzzle of organizing COVID-safe activities for kids wasn’t enough, the lack of international workers “slammed the door” on plans to reopen, said Major. In a normal year, 40% of counselors at his camp are cultural exchange, or J-1, visa holders. College students make up another part of the ISTC workforce, and some schools are shifting their schedules earlier in August, overlapping with camps, which adds another staffing challenge.
In 2018, more than 13,000 recipients of J-1 visas came to Pennsylvania. That group includes au-pairs, exchange students, researchers and students. The single largest group was camp counselors, who numbered 4,080, according to data from the U.S. Department of State.