Summer camp and day camp is an annual summer rite of passage for kids. But like everything else during the pandemic, camp this year is very much in doubt.

A new and potentially COVID-19-linked illness is affecting kids, with more than 100 cases being investigated in New York.

What You Need To Know

  • Summer camps and day camps may not be able to happen this year.

  • A new illness affecting kids that may be linked to COVID is to blame.

  • Camps are making plans to stay healthy.

  • They are all awaiting guidance from the state.

Governor Andrew Cuomo cast doubt on whether summer camps and day camps can be held this year, pointing to the inflammmatory illness as something that shouldn't be taken lightly as COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations continue their overall statewide decline.

"As a parent, until I know how widespread this, I would not send my child to day camp," he said. 

Both day camp and summer sleep-away camps across New York are facing uncertainty even as they plan to move forward with the season. 

"It's really now up to the state, which is who will ultimately make the decision as to whether camps can operate and how that will look," said Susie Lupert, the executive director of the American Campaign Association, New York and New Jersey.

And for many camps, a cancelled summer could mean a severe hit to their business. 

"These are small businesses ,are just like everyone else so the global impact of this virus is obviously severe and that obviously trickles down to every industry and  the camp industry would be greatly affected by this," Lupert said. 

Camps are in the planning stages now of following health and safetly guidelines should the season be allowed to move forward. 

But can kids socially distance? Mark Transport, the owner of Crestwood Day Camp, acknowledges that's a challenge. But his camp has plans this summer to stay outdoors, cancel camp when it rains and keep campers in small groups.

"They'll be dealing with the same kids each day and there isn't going to be interaction like there normally would be in a camp environment with hundreds of kids in a given day," he said. 

Having camp would not just be a reprieve for kids, but also adults who are either still working from home or returning to work as restrictions are gradually lifted.

Camp serves an important purpose in the lives of children, especially when their young lives have been upended. School buildings have been closed since March in New York and it is yet to be determined if they will re-open in September. 

"So even in the best of times camps have always been an important haven for allowing children to reinvent themselves, to learn how to socialize, create connections with other children," Transport said, "and now I think camp is more critical than ever."