Camp New Moon amongst many welcoming overnight campers back

After a summer season that saw none last year, overnight camping for youth is back in Ontario.

Camp New Moon, located in the Lake of Bays in Muskoka, has welcomed back campers for the first time since the pandemic began.

"I hear the sounds of kids and laughter. I hear canoes being taken off the racks," says Jack Goodman, the owner and operator of the camp. "It's just so great to see camp filled with who it's supposed to be filled with, happy campers and staff!"

As part of the province's second step of its Roadmap to Reopen Plan, overnight camping is permitted across Ontario. Camp New Moon, which Goodman calls a traditional recreational camp featuring various activities from outdoor water sports to arts and crafts, has introduced a host of new COVID-19 protocols.

New tents have been added adjacent to the dining room to allow for proper physical distancing amongst youth. Other measures include dividing the campers into cohorts, where masks aren't required, but mandating face masks when out of that group or inside.

"The kids are extremely used to, as we all are, wearing masks," says Goodman, who also serves as chair of Ontario's Camp Association COVID-19 Taskforce. "In fact, we had to prepare our staff and anticipate there would be some children that would be a little bit wary of leaving their mask behind if they were even within their cabin group where they are allowed to not wear a mask."

Campers at New Moon, who range in age from seven to 16, went through a final COVID-19 screening upon arrival. That process will be repeated for future groups who enter, with participants staying anywhere from two to seven weeks.

"These kids need this," Goodman says. "They need to have their social and mental health restored, to be engaged in activity, to laugh, to hang out with each other, to get some sense of normalcy. So we're seeing that unfold before our eyes, and that brings nothing but joy to us."

Goodman says that the camp is booked for the season, attributing that to an increased desire after going so long without.