Summer Camps Struggle to Keep Out COVID-19

Summer camps in states like Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri have reported cases of COVID-19

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Keeping COVID-19 out of summer camp is proving to be a challenge.

Cases are climbing at camps in Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri where dozens have caught the virus.

Caren Sharpe Herbst, a mom in Allen, said her 15-year-old daughter couldn't wait for summer camp.

“Throughout the whole quarantine, she was like ‘I just want camp to be open, I just want camp to be open,’” Herbst explained.

Herbst said she felt completely comfortable sending her daughter to Kanakuk in southwest Missouri.

Kanakuk’s website said it added more than 30 safety measures this year, from daily temperature checks to medical-grade filtration systems in cabins.

“It was almost mind-blowing how protective they were going to be of our kids,” Herbst said.

But five days into her daughter’s two-week stay, Herbst said she was notified by email the term was closing because of COVID-19.

“There were tears at first when we were leaving camp,” Herbst recalled of the drive home Friday.

The health department in Stone County, Missouri says 82 campers, counselors and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at Kanakuk's K2 Kamp for teens.

Another summer camp, Sky Ranch, in east Texas announced on its website Wednesday that two people have reportedly tested positive, and "multiple" campers and counselors became sick at its Oklahoma camp.

“Everybody, so far, in our circle has been fine,” Herbst said, adding her daughter tested negative for the virus Wednesday.

“I do not regret sending my child to camp, she does not regret going,” Herbst said.

Even with all the precautions in place, Herbst said she worries the outcome of camp could foreshadow what happens when schools reopen this fall.

“Every protocol was followed and so I don’t know where things fell through the cracks,” she said.

Neither Kanakuk nor Sky Ranch have returned NBC 5’s request for comment.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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