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Statement from the Ontario Camps Association

March 26, 2021

On March 18th the Ontario Camps Association (OCA) received a public letter from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, recognizing the “considerable planning and preparatory work… to support safe reopening and operations” of overnight and day camps this summer, and the “importance of camps in general to the development, physical and mental well-being as well as longterm resiliency of Ontario’s children and youth.”

Further recognition of the children’s camp industry was evident in the Ontario Budget presented on March 24th. The Minister of Finance had listened to our concerns and need for support. Our efforts have helped in the creation of the “Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant”, which targets overnight camps and other seasonal industries. This public recognition will help our summer camps, one of Ontario’s cultural gems, to continue its ongoing, 100-year mission of providing Ontario’s young people with unparalleled outdoor experiences and a lifetime of benefits.

These are small but important steps in the right direction.

With summer fast approaching, an accelerated effort is now required to secure a pathway leading to the careful and responsible reopening of overnight camps, along with the continued operation of both day camps and outdoor education programs.

The OCA continues its collaborative efforts with public health officials and various government officials to complete the critical tasks required, including regulatory changes to reopen overnight camps (only when public health guidance is approved), evidence-based placement of overnight camps within the Response Framework, and a fair and equitable publicly supported COVID-19 testing program, widely recognized by medical and health experts to be an important part of public health measures that will ensure the highest possible level of safety for campers and staff.

We are at a critical point in time for camp operators, camp staff, parents and kids. The time is NOW to finalize our plans for camp. The OCA continues to work with health officials to build guidelines and protocols that will ensure responsible and careful camp programs for thousands of children and youth across the province. We know we can do this. We know the evidence supports our efforts. We encourage the government to do the same.

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