The countdown to summer break is on and lots of North Texas families are ready for a return to summer camp.
Many day camps and overnight camps are full and wait lists are growing.
Camp organizers are doing what they can to keep things COVID-19 safe, but there are key questions parents should ask.
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"Parents are craving an opportunity for kids to be outside and have joy. It is palpable in the number of emails, phone calls and registrations that we are seeing," said Camp Champions founder and executive director Steve Baskin.
Camp Champions is one of the 547 camps in Texas expected to operate this summer, welcoming close to a million campers, according to the American Camp Association.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued summer camp guidance similar to what the state already put in place last year.
Many of the recommendations are similar to what a Texas state strike force created for summer camps last year.
"Parents do drop off differently. In the past, a parent would come out of the car, make their child's bed, get a last hug and leave. Now, it's more like a school drop-off," said Baskin of one example of the changes implemented last year.
Baskin said while many camps will continue the same protocols this summer, they've added new ones that involve vaccinations and rapid COVID-19 tasting.
Some camps are requiring all staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
They'll also require campers to undergo COVID-19 testing before they arrive.
Sick campers may be given a rapid test while at camp.
The hope for camps and families is to give back the summers that children had once before while preparing them for beyond the pandemic.
"More than ever, kids need to be able to connect with other human beings. They need to feel that sense of joy and connection," said Baskin. "I think that will increase the chances that when they go back to school. They'll be less likely to be scared or intimidated and more likely to be a leader among their friends, and say, 'come on we got this. We don't have to be anxious. We don't have to be depedent on our phones.' I don't think there's been a more important time to send your kids to camp."
Baskin says parents should consider three key things when talking with your child's camp about COVID-19 safety precautions.
Find out what their plan is for ventilation and how often the children will be outside, where it's safest.
Find out if the camp is requiring staff to be vaccinated. College students often make up the majority of camp counselors.
Listen to how serious the camp is taking protocols and decide if they're up to your family's safety standards.