Overnight camps prepare to return with Step 2 reopening
EGANVILLE, ONT. -- Overnight camps will once again be able to operate this summer under Step 2 of Ontario’s reopening plan.
At Camp Smitty in Eganville, named after former CTV sportscaster Brian Smith, they have been preparing for weeks to be ready for a return this summer.
“Obviously with the announcement that came out today we’re pretty excited,” says Adam Joiner, CEO of BGC Ottawa, which runs Camp Smitty. “Because we’ve been doing a lot of the legwork in anticipation of this announcement.”
Joiner says the return of overnight camps will be a welcomed relief and return to normalcy for not only kids, but parents too.
“This summer in particular is incredibly special because it’s going to give those young people a chance to experience something that they haven’t been able to experience sometimes ever, but at least in the last two years,” says Joiner.
Camp Smitty will open for the summer on July 16 and run three sessions of ten days each. The camp will operate at 50 per cent capacity, which Joiner says will see between 150 to 200 campers visiting Camp Smitty this summer. Registration is open and spots are still available.
“We’re going to have to limit the amount of kids that we’re seeing,” says Joiner. “We’re going to have to ensure that we’re following all of the mandatory requirements, and making sure we’re going above and beyond to ensure the safety of our campers.”
There are six overnight camps in Renfrew County, with four having submitted reopening plans to the Renfrew County Health Unit. But Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Cushman says it’s difficult for the camps as the province has not laid out their guidelines yet.
“Two were quite good and two need a little bit of work, but again as I said, they’re flying blind,” says Dr. Cushman. “When these camps open there will be an inspection, and as I said all the plans are being reviewed.”
Dr. Cushman says there will still be challenges as the camps deal with portions of the population 12 years and under who are not yet approved to receive vaccinations.
“The real issue is cohorting, if you have a case in a cabin or a tent,” says Cushman. “These camps are international. These kids at best will have had one vaccine. And then what do you do with a case?”