Manitoba day camps in limbo waiting for provincial reopening direction
WINNIPEG -- Normally, at the end of June, Osaed Khan, co-founder of Code Cobras, a day camp that teaches kids the basics of computer programming, would be getting everything ready for the summer.
This year, planning is a bit difficult, not only because Khan is fielding a lot more questions from concerned parents than normal.
“They’re wondering if we are going to have camps,” said Khan, adding that parents are also wondering if Code Cobras will have a limit on the number of kids that can attend.
The confusion stems from the province’s reopening plan.
The provincial government has said that day camps will be part of the four-phase summer reopening.
Summer day camps are slated to be included in loosened restrictions tied to the July 1 vaccination target.
Few concrete details have been provided, making planning difficult for camp coordinators like Khan.
“It is a bit challenging with the ambiguous checkpoints,” said Khan.
“If they limit the number of campers at our camp, that’s going to hurt us a lot,” he said. “So, I’m hoping the province may be able to step up and help some smaller camps financially survive.”
Some day camps, like the Assiniboine Zoo Camp, are pre-registering students, assuming camps will be able to operate at 25 per cent capacity by July.
The Manitoba Theatre for Young People is currently planning to hold in-person programming, but also has some remote options in place as a fallback plan “We didn’t want to put out an invitation to sign up for something that we couldn’t deliver,” said Kent Suss, theatre school director with the Manitoba Theatre for Young People.
“We have a whole set of in-person summer programs that are planned but we just haven’t announced them and we’re holding off until we hear from the province that we can open day camps,” he said.
A similar approach is being taken by the Rainbow Resource Centre, which is exclusively holding virtual programming for this year’s edition of its “Camp Aurora” program.
“The pandemic has been quite unpredictable in terms of if we’ll be allowed to open or not,” said Alice Charles, camp coordinator for the Rainbow Resource Centre.
“Doing it virtually just allows us to confirm that we are going to be having a camp.”
The Manitoba Camping Association says it’s been informed by the provincial government that day camps should be able to open at 25 per cent capacity come July 1 if vaccination targets are met.
“It’s a little bit of fingers crossed, a little bit of trusting that people will help us get to that place to open,” said Kim Scherger, the Manitoba Camping Association’s executive director.
“Kids need it so badly, the camps need it, the staff needs it on so many different levels,” she said.
Scherger also expects overnight camps will be able to open at 50 per cent capacity if the province’s August 2nd vaccination target is met.
However, short notice from the province on whether day or overnight camps can operate may create staffing problems, among other logistical issues.
“We may not know until July 20th or later if the August date will happen,” said Scherger. “10 days before then, will a camp be able to open in time?”
“It really depends on the camp and when we would get that information.”
Planning is also a bit of a problem for parents in Manitoba who are also unsure at what capacity camps will be able to operate throughout the summer.
“This is impacting hundreds or thousands of parents across the province who depend on camps to provide childcare during the summer,” said Colin Fast, director of policy for the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.