Edmonton

Edmonton non-profit uncertain about offering in-person summer camps despite OK from province

One Edmonton organization is trying to adapt quickly to new guidance from Alberta's reopening plan, which could permit summer camps to open as early as June 10.

Stage 2 of the reopening plan could begin as early as June 10

Hawo Mursal and her 10-year-old son Zayd Aden are looking forward to the AdaptAbilities summer camps being offered. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

An Edmonton non-profit organization that offers summer camps for children with special needs says it's adapting to new provincial guidelines but still isn't sure that in-person camps will be held this year.

AdaptAbilities is a non-profit organization that helps foster growth, friendships and learning for people with special needs and their families. The group has provided summer camps, in-house programming and group programming to more than 2,000 families.

Last year, the organization launched one-on-one summer camps supplemented with online material, and planned on doing that again this year if in-person day camps weren't possible.

The organization has waffled back and forth on a decision for this year's camps as they waited for news on what the summer might look like. 

The province announced its summer reopening plan earlier this week and summer camps will be allowed to operate with some restrictions under Stage 2, which could happen on June 10. 

With the province's reopening plan announced, AdaptAbilities' CEO Michelle Hordal said the organization will do its best to offer in-person camps this summer. 

"If we can make [a normal in-person camp] happen, we'll do what we can, but there's a lot of logistics that go into what needs to happen between now and then and there's not a lot of time," she said. 

Hordal said her team has put a lot of work and effort into trying to account for every possibility this summer. The one-on-one camp option comes with additional costs, so the organization is also running a fundraiser this month. 

The organization is planning to offer the one-on-one option, even if in-person day camps resume. 

Hawo Mursal has four children under 12. Her 10-year-old son Zayd Aden has autism and the family has used the camps in previous years. 

"If the numbers are not steady, [then] I will keep him at home because the thing about the home summer camp is that they're still having fun, they're still going out in the community, but it's one-on-one," she says. 

If numbers stay low, she said she wouldn't have a problem doing the in-person larger camp. 

Zayd Aden, 10, uses the AdaptAbilities summer camp to work on his social skills, and looks forward to virtual dance sessions. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Because her kids are under 12, they can't yet be vaccinated. She said that is especially concerning because Zayd has trouble keeping a mask on all day, and has trouble communicating if he's feeling ill. 

Hawo said either camp option is nice for her because it gives her a chance to relax, and Zayd gets to have fun and work on his social skills.

With files from Travis McEwan

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