Fewer options for Edmonton-area summer camps this year

Hundreds of summer camp spots for Edmonton children are off the roster this year due to construction plans at three popular camp locations.

Fort Edmonton Park and the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton are two organizations not running camps

At least three Edmonton-area summer camps will not be running programs in 2019. (Summit Camp)

Hundreds of summer camp spots for Edmonton children are off the roster this year due to construction plans at three popular camp locations.

Day camps at Fort Edmonton Park will be on hiatus, due to ongoing construction that is part of a $165-million "enhancement plan" for the whole park.

And the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton is putting two of its summer camps on hold, due to financial constraints and anticipated construction activity. Camp Encounter, near Lac La Nonne, and Our Lady of Victory Camp, near Gull Lake, will both be out of commission this year.

When combined, the three camps typically offer more than 1,000 spots for children and young teenagers.

"I have four kids that attend and I knew they would all be devastated," said Natashia Goertzen, whose children have all attended Our Lady of Victory Camp. 

Goertzen was 13 years old when she met her future husband at the camp. Since then, it has become a summertime staple for the family. This year, the family has planned a series of other vacations instead.

"We had to figure out something else to do," Goertzen said.

Our Lady of Victory Camp was constructed in the 1940s, said Lorraine Turchansky, a spokesperson for the archdiocese.

"There have been some improvements along the way, from time to time, but they're not up to the standard we feel we should have to make them sustainable into the future," she said.

The camps have been running at a deficit and the archdiocese has been discussing options for the camp for the past year. Many parents feared they would close altogether.

"When people heard that (they plan to reopen), most of the responses we got were relief and joy they would not be closed down forever," Turchansky said.

The archdiocese wants to start fundraising to rebuild the facilities, a project that could cost $5 million. They hope to start some demolition work this summer.

A spokesperson for the city said it's not known if the day camps will return to Fort Edmonton Park next year, but the facility will fully reopen in 2021. About 400 children typically attend camps at the park in July and August.