This image released by Forest Lake Camp shows campers boating and kayaking on the lake of the camp in Warrensburg, N.Y. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Forest Lake Camp via AP

Canada’s summer camps hope to reopen as provinces plan to lift restrictions

Canada’s summer camps hope to reopen as provinces plan to lift restrictions

Summer camp operators are optimistic they can save the 2021 season — even as the window for overnight camps to reopen is quickly closing.

Sleepaway camps were closed in every province except New Brunswick last summer because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Stephane Richard, the president of the Canadian Camping Association, said on Monday his membership is hopeful those precautions will be eased in time to have a summer season.

“There’s a lot of optimism in the air regarding what we’re hearing, but there’s still some realities setting in that it may be beneficial for some and not for all,” said Richard, adding that he expects day camps will be open in every province, in some capacity.

The national association estimates that a million Canadian children attend camp every summer, with Richard noting that about 75 per cent of camps in the country are non-profit. That charitable element is why the Canadian Camping Association is asking for financial support from the federal and provincial governments for its members.

Many day camps were able to partially open last year, providing some revenue while overnight camps have been closed since March 2020. Sleepaway camps are more logistically difficult to operate, with hiring staff, ordering provisions, and creating programming that will keep campers in smaller cohorts all pressing challenges if they are to open this summer.

Even if provincial governments allow overnight camps to reopen, safety guidelines may prevent region-to-region travel and reduce the camps’ catchment areas.

“That will be the part that is the unknown as we wait and see if the numbers get better. Are all those zones going to be out of lockdown by July? We don’t know,” said Richard, who pointed out that while most camps are in rural communities, campers usually live in urban centres that are typically hot spots for COVID-19.

Quebec’s camp association said it learned on May 6 its members will be allowed to reopen for overnight programming.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Sunday that he wanted to see camps reopen this summer. Jack Goodman, the president of the Ontario Camp Association, said that the premier called him hours after those comments were made and thanked the organization for all the work it’s done with the government.

“The big rub is turning from a state of closure to opening and then to develop brand-new guidelines for those camps,” said Goodman, whose organization wrote the first draft of Ontario’s safety guidelines for camps. “We’ve been hard at it.”

Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Monday that Ontario is looking at how day and overnight camps might open this summer, while recognizing that their operators need sufficient time to prepare for campers.

“We know that this is an issue that many families are concerned about and of course, the operators of those camps are concerned about,” said Elliott.

“We’re watching all of these issues very closely. But again, it’s a question of what the clinical data tells us and and when it will be safe to reopen them.”

Elliott said Ontario would leave it up to individual camp operators if they want to make vaccinations among campers and staff mandatory.

Richard, who is based in New Brunswick, said that camping associations across Canada are in regular communication with provincial governments about the logistics of reopening this summer and that they are all “cautiously optimistic.”

In British Columbia, guidance on whether or not camps can open and in what form is still being waited on.

Geoff Park, the founder and director of Camp Summit in Squamish, B.C., said he’ll need to know by May 31 if overnight camps will open or he’ll have to pivot his business plan for the summer.

“A lot of camps that deadline has already passed and they’ve had to move on to other opportunities or adapt their programmings to fit,” said Park. “Some camps have been able to hold out and wait.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory said that the city was planning in person and virtual programming for its camps. He added that the city’s camps would have to wait for formal details from the provincial government before committing to a plan.

– With files from Paola Loriggio and Holly McKenzie-Sutter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2021.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Shanna Lydiard complains that her mail hasn’t been delivered for over 10 weeks due to water main construction on her West Park block. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Residents of Red Deer street have no mail delivery for 10-plus weeks

Shanna Lydiard says she doesn’t trust the city’s promises

FILE - Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced that Albertans could start booking second dose shots of the COVID-19 vaccine starting Tuesday night. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Public measures will be lifted: Alberta will enter Stage 3 on Canada Day

Alberta will enter Stage 3 of its Open for Summer Plan on… Continue reading

A massive round dance, involving hundreds of people at Bower Ponds, was a highlight of Canada Day celebrations in 2000. (Contributed photo).
Fireworks without a Canada Day celebration is planned for July 1 in Red Deer

Many residents aren’t in a festive mood, with recent Indigenous graves discovery

Students’ Association of Red Deer College president Brittany Lausen says the government needs to be transparent about why RDC doesn’t have degrees yet. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Brittany Lausen earns RDC Outstanding Student Award

Student’s Association of Red Deer College president Brittany Lausen has been named… Continue reading

Gabe Cuthand, Brandon McDonald, Dean Johnson and Dakota Dion drumming during a past Indigenous Peoples Day celebration at City Hall Park in Red Deer (Advocate file photo).
Indigenous Peoples Day will be celebrated online on Monday in Red Deer

National Indigenous Peoples Day will be celebrated in Red Deer on Monday… Continue reading

A supporter of presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi holds a sign during a rally in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Iran's clerical vetting committee has allowed just seven candidates for the Friday, June 18, ballot, nixing prominent reformists and key allies of President Hassan Rouhani. The presumed front-runner has become Ebrahim Raisi, the country's hard-line judiciary chief who is closely aligned with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Iran votes in presidential poll tipped in hard-liner’s favor

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranians voted Friday in a presidential… Continue reading

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto, left, and President Seiko Hashimoto attend the news conference after receiving a report from a group of infectious disease experts on Friday, June 18, 2021, in Tokyo. The experts including Shigeru Omi, head of a government coronavirus advisory panel, issued a report listing the risks of allowing the spectators and the measurements to prevent the event from triggering a coronavirus spread. (Yuichi Yamazaki/Pool Photo via AP)
Top medical adviser says ‘no fans’ safest for Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO (AP) — The safest way to hold the Tokyo Olympics is… Continue reading

FILE - In this June 12, 2021, file photo, Rajkumar Haryani, 38, who painted his body to create awareness about vaccination against the coronavirus poses for photographs after getting a dose of Covishield vaccine in Ahmedabad, India. Starting June 21, 2021, every Indian adult can get a COVID-19 vaccine dose for free that was purchased by the federal government. The policy reversal announced last week ends a complex system of buying vaccines that worsened inequities in accessing vaccines. India is a key global supplier of vaccines and its missteps have left millions of people waiting unprotected. The policy change is likely to address inequality but questions remain and shortages will continue. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki, File)
How India is changing vaccine plan amid shortages

NEW DELHI (AP) — Starting Monday, every adult in India will be… Continue reading

Chief of Defence staff General Jonathan Vance speaks during a news conference to , in Ottawa Tuesday August 30, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces says it is making progress in the fight against sexual misconduct in the ranks, but much more work needs to be done. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Freeze promotions until military commanders are screened for misconduct: Committee

OTTAWA — A parliamentary committee has called for a freeze on all… Continue reading

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Hussen says he is looking to municipalities to reshape local rules to more quickly build units through the government's national housing strategy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Cities should redo planning, permitting to align with housing strategy, minister says

OTTAWA — The federal minister in charge of affordable housing says he… Continue reading

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. On June 1, NACI had said AstraZeneca recipients "could" get Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna for their second shot if they wanted, but Thursday went further to say an mRNA vaccine was the "preferred" choice. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

When Gwenny Farrell booked her second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine… Continue reading

Brooklyn Nets' James Harden, right, is guarded by Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, center, during the first half of Game 6 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Bucks bounce back to defeat Nets 104-89 and force Game 7

MILWAUKEE — Khris Middleton scored 38 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 30 and… Continue reading

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) brings the puck up the ice against the New York Islanders during the third period of Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinals, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Uniondale, N.Y. Tampa Bay won 2-1.(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Point scores again, Lightning beat Islanders 2-1 in Game 3

Lightning 2 Islanders 1 (Tampa Bay leads series 2-1) UNIONDALE, N.Y. —… Continue reading

Most Read