New camps, free camps, and the rules for summer activities in the Czech Republic this year

With the rules changing multiple times, this is the latest on testing and mask-wearing plus tips for how to sign up for free camps.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 22.06.2021 11:50:00 (updated on 07.12.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

Going to a summer camp has a long tradition in the Czech lands. According to the civic association Fajn Táboření, about 213,000 children attended summer camps last year.

Camping has a rich tradition in the Czech Republic. Czech camps took inspiration from the American model which inspired the first scout camp held in the Czech Republic, in 1912 in Lipnice nad Sázavou.

Options typically include sleepover camps (letní tábor) or day camps (příměstský tábor) focused on hobbies, education or sports. This year a number of day camps will be government-subsidized to help kids who spent the majority of the year learning online learn while getting fit and having fun.

We spoke to a couple of Prague-based camp operators to get their outlook for the upcoming season while outlining some important things you need to know (to help you keep up with the rapidly changing rules) before your child attends camp in the Czech Republic this summer.

Camps offer a chance to support to small businesses hurt by Covid

Krav Maga Prague has been running camps for over 3 years and is popular with both expat and local families for helping kids hone self-defense, exercise, and English-language skills.

But owner Miklos Handa told us that the frequently changing rules communicated by the Czech government at very short notice initially led to uncertainty about the future of this year's camp.

"As such, we only just managed to announce the opening of the camp for 2021, since until recently it was uncertain whether the camp could go ahead, and if so, under what conditions," Handa told us.

Krav Maga Prague owner Miklos Handa at a previous year's camp.
Krav Maga Prague owner Miklos Handa at a previous year's camp.

With many camps due to start from July and the health ministry only confirming its testing policies late last week, camp organizers say there are still some grey areas: as day camps must follow the guidelines as schools, testing is required as is the use of respirators indoors.

"P.E. classes at schools were exempt from masks so it requires further clarification for us and the rules may well change by the start of our camp on July 19," says Handa who has had to secure an outdoor gym in addition to indoor training facilities.

"This way kids can enjoy training in the fresh air without limitations and we only move the activities indoors if the weather conditions, such as heat or rain, require us to do so," he says.

While Handa looks to summer camp to help recoup funds from business losses during the pandemic, he says he is still struggling with sign-ups.

"We have seen much fewer registrations so far, as several expat families left or are leaving the country after the school year due to the chaotic situation. In many cases, the family finances were affected by Covid while others desperately seek to go abroad after the long lockdown."

Despite it all new camps opening up this summer

The newly opened Lobkowicz Summer Camp will take place at Lobkowicz Palace and outside of Prague at Nelahozeves Castle.

"Our mission is to make culture and heritage relevant to current and future generations. We want to show children how art can be inspiring through our art collections and beautiful locations," says spokesperson Veronika Graulíková.

Their camps which begin July 12 (for Czech-speaking children) and July 19 (for English-speaking children) will focus on arts and crafts, sports, and other activities that allow kids to explore culture and nature in beautiful historic settings.

Lobkowicz Summer Camp will take place at Lobkowicz Palace and outside of Prague at Nelahozeves Castle.
Lobkowicz Summer Camp will take place at Lobkowicz Palace and outside of Prague at Nelahozeves Castle for the first time this year.

She says that launching a summer camp this year will help make up for lost time during lockdown with their Junior Curator program being moved online due to Covid.

"Due to the Covid situation, many schools were not able to participate and join our educational programs," says Graulíková who agrees with Handa that the situation has kept organizers on their toes.

How to find a free camp

This year the Czech government is also subsidizing a number of camps in the hopes of attracting children who do not normally take part in summer camps and similar events. The interest is already great and the camps are primarily in Czech.

Camps should take place in July and August, for up to 15 children and for a minimum of 40 hours spread over five calendar days.

To find a free camp, check with your local municipality or school for more information (The Sport Joy association, is one of the largest organizations that will organize free summer holiday courses in the capital, you can sign up here). Another subsidized camp, Metaculture, offers more of an arts-based curriculum.

Others can be found by googling "Letní kempy MŠMT 2021," "Ministerstvo školství, mládeže a tělovýchovy," or "Letní kempy."

The rules for attending summer camps

As of last week, the health ministry has confirmed that participants in summer camps will have to meet one of the “OTN” conditions: vaccination (očkování), a negative test (testování), or recovery from illness (doklad o prodělané nemoci).  

Under the current rules, a PCR test must not be older than seven days or an antigen test not older than 72 hours. A test certificate from the employer or school, an affidavit from the parents that the child was tested at school, or an on-site antigen test will also be valid. Alternatively, proof of having recovered from Covid-19 within the last 180 days, or proof of at least 22 days after the first dose of vaccine may be acceptable.

Children playing. (Photo: iStock, SerrNovik)
.participants in summer camps will have to meet one of the “OTN” conditions: vaccination (očkování), a negative test (testování), or recovery from illness (doklad o prodělané nemoci) / Photo: iStock, SerrNovik)

Children who have a negative PCR test before leaving for summer camp will not have to be tested again after seven days of staying overnight at the camp. For those who presented a negative antigen test, the obligation to test after seven days remains.

The testing rules do not apply to children under the age of 6 who do not need to be tested or meet any of the conditions.

Conditions for sleep-away will be more lenient than last summer. There will be no limit on the number of participants in summer camps this year. Face coverings will be worn outside the campgrounds in places where it is mandatory.

The Health Ministry has not given specifics for rules governing dining, swimming and sports at camps beyond saying that they are the same as everywhere else.

Camps matter now more than ever

Despite the additional hoops this year, Handa and Graulíková believe that camps matter more than ever. Handa says Krava Maga Prague's defense training program offers valuable life skills; while Graulíková says Lobkowicz Summer Camp aims to make culture and heritage relevant to current and future generations, and help return one of the traditional pleasures of summertime to kids.

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