A popular network of Christian sports camps in Missouri had to close one of its sites on Friday. Roughly 50 campers and counselors tested positive for coronavirus, according to the state’s department of health.
Kanakuk Kamps has hosted more than 450,000 kids since it opened in 1926. It’s one of the most well-known camps in southern Missouri.
Unfortunately, its K-2 campsite in Lampe was tied to infections and had to be shuttered for the remainder of the season. The K-2 site was one of five Kanakuk Kamps that had overnight camps in operation this season.
“Our K-2 camp (ages 13-18) will be closed for the remainder of this term. All campers from the current term are returning home with the recommendation to families to quarantine their households for 14 days,” Kanakuk Communications Director Jeff Mason said.
The Stone County Health Department said that the K-2 infected campers traveled from 10 states and multiple Missouri counties. Mason, however, said he prepared the camp for such a possibility.
“We… responded quickly to implement the proper… protocols to… respond to any COVID 19-like symptoms. So far this summer, over 5,000 campers, and staff have enjoyed a fun, safe, and wholesome Kanakuk summer camp experience in the beautiful Ozarks,” he added.
Mason notified the local health officials and parents at all locations about the infections. He said that most of the cases were came from parents of “asymptomatic campers who already returned home.”
Kanakuk Kamps is among several outdoor camps across the country that have proceeded with summer activities amid the coronavirus pandemic. The small outbreak at the K-2 campsite in Lampe further confirms that no campsite is safe from the virus.
Dr. Jessica Justman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, questions whether summer camps should continue to operate.
“I think that with the increasing number of cases in so many states now, I am more concerned than I was before about the feasibility of summer camp,” Justman said. “These things do always come down to individual judgments and decisions that parents have to make.”
Dr. David Cennimo, an infectious disease expert at Rutgers, believes that what many camps are experiencing this summer will be similar to what schools see in the fall.
“One of the more pressing things is we need to have a conversation… about what does it look like if cases occur because I don’t believe that will be 100% safe…” he said. “If we’re not able to pull off day camps, I don’t know how we open schools.”