Will summer camps open in NY?

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SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Gov. Cuomo said on May 22 that he would not be willing to send his children to day camp this year, and he wouldn’t expect others to do so, but he did not say whether the state would allow summer camps to open. This has been a big topic of conversation in Sullivan County, where there are more than 60 camps that are affiliated with the Association of Jewish Summer Camp Owners who would very much like their camps to open in about four weeks.

Sullivan County officials have not taken a definitive stand on the issue, but they did issue a release regarding summer camp: “We’ve heard from people on both sides of the debate over opening such facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” acknowledged public health director Nancy McGraw. “In addition to the basic questions of ‘if’ and ‘when,’ we’ve been giving answers about what constitutes a summer camp and how it’s regulated differently from other seasonal occupancy units.”

The New York State Department of Health issues permits to camps that allow them to open and operate. According to county officials, a state-recognized campground, whether publicly or privately owned, consists of five or more campsites.

Permits from the NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) are required if the campground operates for more than 60 hours a year, and permits are valid for up to three years

Children’s camps are defined not by the number of campsites but by who they serve and how they’re operated.

Summer day camps serve those 16 years of age or younger; children’s overnight camps serve those 18 years of age or younger;

“The county has limited jurisdiction over children’s campgrounds, camps and temporary residences, both seasonal and year-round,” McGraw said. “While my team continues to closely monitor all public health concerns in the county during this COVID-19 pandemic, we rely on the state for guidance and authority regarding camps and temporary residences that are issued permits in Sullivan County.”

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