Sleepaway camps can open this summer

Quebec Public Health has announced that it will prioritize vaccination for camp staff and set forth health protocols in coming days

Sleepaway camps can open this summer

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After a year where a lack of organized activities and socialization has taken a toll on our youth, many families will be happy to know that sleepaway camps have been given the green light to open this summer.

Quebec Public Health made its decision on May 6 and said it would prioritize vaccination for camping staff. Government staff are currently working to finalize health protocols and will unveil the measures in the coming days.

“Access to vaccination for our staff is great news,” said Eric Beauchemin, Executive Director of the Quebec Camping Association.

The association is asking the government to provide $10 million to day and sleepover camps to help with implementing health and sanitary measures, and to cover fixed costs for camps that can’t open. Last year, $13.7 million in emergency assistance was provided to certified camps.

“In this special year, we firmly believe that camps are part of the solution to the mental health issues facing our youth and the stress experienced by so many families,” Beauchemin said. “Camps will once again have to comply with strict health and safety measures to ensure the safety of all campers and staff.  They will have the same exceptional expenses this year and must be supported.”

Unfortunately, not all sleepaway camps will be able open; for some, the news came too late to prepare in time for summer and proposed health protocols proved too difficult to implement.

A survey by the camping association reveals that one third of camps will not open, one third are undecided (due to the uncertainty, complexity and costs of implementing health measures), and the remaining third say they will operate.

Camp Kanawana, which has been operating for 125 in the Laurentians, made the decision not to open despite being given the green light.

“Adapting our physical spaces, facilities, and equipment to COVID-19 health measures that have still not been produced will require too many changes and effort that we do not have the operational capacity for at this time,” said Camp Director Kate Taylor. “While we are committed to supporting kids, we are unable to get Kanawana up and running safely in a timely manner. Therefore, we will sadly remain closed this summer. I have no doubt that we will be back, and stronger than ever, in 2022.”

Camp Wa-Thik-Ane, a Girl Guide camp in Morin Heights, has also decided not to open because it would be too difficult to safely social distance during meals and activities. Parkside Ranch in Mont Orford will run its day camp but not its sleepover camp.

The Y Country Camp (YCC) near Tremblant is planning on operating as are Camp Wingate and Camp Nominingue in the Laurentians, and Camp Wilvaken in Magog.

“We could not be more excited for this summer,” said Darren Morenstein, Associate Director of YCC. “We have been preparing for this moment and can’t wait to welcome our campers and staff back home.”