Overnight and day camps most likely to reopen in Ontario this summer, taskforce says

Members of a camping taskforce in talks with the Ontario government say they are 99 per cent certain that both day and overnight camps will reopen this summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two members of the Ontario Camping Association COVID-19 Taskforce told CTV News Toronto on Monday they have heard from Premier Doug Ford about the issue, and are optimistic about reopening.

“The premier actually left me a message confirming that both overnight and day camps would be open this summer,” taskforce member Mark Diamond said on Monday. “The caveat for any camp director or for the government is that as long as cases continued decline the way they are, and things are under control.”

“As of now it is working like full scale ahead and so they're putting everything in motion … to allow that to happen for this summer. I would say that it's a 99 per cent sure thing.”

The premier announced on Sunday that camps would reopen this year thanks to the increasing number of vaccinations, but neither Ford nor his office released any details on what the reopening would look like, and if it would include overnight camps.

“We are working with the chief medical officer of health on a plan to safely and gradually reopen the province,” the premier’s office told CTV News Toronto on Monday.

“We will provide more detail on what the weeks ahead will look like before June 2, when the latest extension of the stay-at-home order expires.”

Last summer, Ontario prohibited overnight summer camps from operating, but allowed day camps. Now, members of the camping task force say both are expected to open this summer.

Jack Goodman, chair of the Ontario Camps Association COVID-19 task force, told CTV News Toronto on Monday that he received a call from the premier recently about the issue.

“We talked about overnight camps and day camps so our anticipation is that … both overnight camps and gate camps are going to be in a position to be able to operate,” he said.

“It’s great news for everyone, but cautious optimism because there's a number of key steps that have to occur before we even get there and of course we have to wait until the pandemic condition continue to abate.”

Diamond, who is also the director of Camp Manitou, said that he is aiming to reopen for day and overnight camping on July 1.

He said his camp would be testing every camp and staff member twice before they enter, and noted that testing will be available on site as required.

“Camps really function mostly outside, and most camps have already purchased tents that allow for every activity to run outside this summer,” Diamond said.

“They created external eating areas, and so on. You really have like the safest places in the world for kids and staff to function. I can't think of a better place.”