A new law in New York will allow children's overnight camps and day camps to hire licensed professionals, including psychologists, social workers, mental health practitioners and applied behavioral analysts, as well as athletic trainers.

The measure will also allow regulated camps in the state to meet protections put in place for people with special needs for licensed staff to be in place and hire chiropractors, physical therapists and assistants, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, audiologists, athletic trainers and applied behavior analysts for the season. 

The measure will be in effect for the 2022 camp season. The new law was cheered by advocates for summer camps in New York, who have called for the measure for years amid rising mental health problems for young people arriving at camp. 

Those challenges are expected to increase given the strains of the COVID-19 pandemic on children for the last year and a half. 

“We are thrilled that after so many years, this bill has been signed into law. Camp professionals will finally be able to hire the professionals they need to help young people deal with the myriad of mental health issues they arrive at camp with each summer,” said Susie Lupert, the executive director of the American Camp Association, NY & NJ. “There has certainly been a need for mental health professionals at camp for years however, it took the COVID-19 pandemic to underscore the problem. This is one of those silver linings of the past year.”