Virtual No More: Gear Up for 2021 Summer Camps

By Meg Walburn Viviano, CBM Editorial Director 

Summer camp.  Two words that are full of hope.  Summer, because this February has been, well, a test of our wintertime patience. Snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain, we’ve seen it all. The groundhog was brutally honest when he predicted lots more winter. 

Given the milder winter seasons we’ve enjoyed the past couple of years, who knew that this year we’d have to print a warning about the danger of falling ice on the Bay Bridge and local roads ( 

It’s no wonder summer in Chesapeake Country is sounding pretty good right now. I’d take beach traffic backups over shards of ice flying off car roofs any day. 

Camp—that’s a word that offers even more hope. Camp, the hallmark of childhood summers! Whether it’s a sleepaway week in the woods, or a day camp focused around specialized activities like sports, music, horseback riding or boating, camps offer kids a chance to be totally immersed in a new environment with their peers. It’s the quintessential out-of-the-classroom learning opportunity, more experiential than academic. 

Especially in 2021, this kind of adventure is welcome. For kids and parents who have been weathering online learning for almost a year now, the chance to get out and do couldn’t come at a better time. 

While some camps did operate last summer with modified procedures, many did not. A large number of families, already dealing with virtual learning fatigue, faced a long, wide-open summer of entertaining their kids. 

We all muddled through, of course. My family embraced hikes and park picnics, along with splashing in the pool and boat rides at Granddad’s house on the Magothy. 

Still, it’s encouraging to see our options beginning to open up. Many favorite camps are forging ahead with their summer offerings. They’ve now had a full year to plan for a pandemic-safe experience. Social distancing tactics and stringent cleaning protocols are the norm by now, and even young children are well-programmed to wear masks, wash hands frequently, and leave 6 feet between them and other people in public. My 5-year-old has adapted so well to wearing a mask to preschool that I often have to remind him that it’s okay to remove his mask once we’re back in the car. 

So which camps can you begin planning for? In our CBM Bay Weekly early-bird camp guide (, we’ve highlighted a range of fun, safe experiences for local kids. And since we know some camp organizers are still in wait-and-see mode, we’ll continue to track additional camp opportunities as they solidify through the spring. 

When it comes to camps, there’s cause for optimism. Little by little, Marylanders are getting vaccinated and COVID-19 cases are beginning to slow. The glimmer of a return to a more predictable life is on the Chesapeake Bay horizon. And so is summer.