Change of plans for roughly 200 campers amid COVID-19 outbreak at Huntsville camp

An overnight camp in Huntsville was forced to cancel for two weeks at the start of the camping season due to a COVID-19 outbreak among multiple staff members.

Camp Wabanaki on Lake Vernon was meant to welcome roughly 200 overnight campers for the first time in two years Monday, but in a statement to CTV News, Interim CEO Mike Ennis said the virus likely spread while staff were in their final training week.

At least eight staff members with the YMCA-run camp tested positive.

Ennis said they are working closely with the health unit to reduce further exposure.

Families were notified of the cancellation on Saturday.

"We understand this news was difficult and disappointing for camp families, and we have sincerely apologized to them for this unavoidable impact on their summer plans," Ennis added.

The interim CEO said impacted families would receive a full refund and noted roughly half had rebooked into later camps.

"We intend to reschedule our Leader-In-Training program, which is a month-long session, to a later date this summer," he concluded.

Officials said Camp Wabanaki would reopen on July 18.

Meanwhile, disease specialist Dr. Sohail Gandhi said while COVID-19 isn't prevalent, it is part of the new normal.

"We will have outbreaks of COVID at some point in the future," he said. "I suspect they'll be sporadic because we're a highly vaccinated population right now, but from time to time, unfortunately, we can expect to hear stories like this."

Dr. Gandhi recommends anyone at high risk, including seniors and those with illnesses that affect their immune system, take measures like masking and social distancing to reduce their risk of infection.

Ontario allowed overnight camps to restart last July after being closed during the pandemic.