Saskatoon

Sask. directors frustrated over lack of clarity on summer camps

Directors of summer camps across the province say they would like more information on how they will be able to operate going forward.

Camps were hoping to hear more details this week, worried about long-term planning

The grounds of Camp Kadesh with no campers around. (Submitted by Tim Good)

Directors of summer camps across Saskatchewan say they would like more information on how they will be able to operate moving ahead during the coronavirus pandemic.

While day camps have been cleared to open by the provincial Ministry of Health, the ultimate fate of overnight camps was left to Phase 4 of the province's reopening plan, which is now in effect.

The plan currently says only that "overnight camps are not permitted."

When Premier Scott Moe did not address the issue at a briefing about Phase 4 reopenings on Tuesday, the executive director of one camp took to social media in frustration.

"There really has been no information," said Tim Good, executive director of Camp Kadesh, a summer camp on Christopher Lake, north of Prince Albert.

"We're sort of in limbo for what are we allowed to do."

While many summer camps have written off their summer season due to the pandemic, Good is already looking ahead to the fall, and which activities his camp will be able to provide.

"We do school programs, we do various retreat rentals in the off seasons," he said. 

"But we keep hitting this wall where the local health inspectors say, 'Well, your camp is an overnight program.'"

Ultimately, Good said many camps are in a dire financial position after COVID-19, with many groups searching for any cash flow to keep them afloat.

"I think there are many camps that will cease to exist," he said. "We just can't generate revenue."

Long-term planning

Good isn't alone. 

The Saskatchewan Camping Association said its members are becoming increasingly frustrated with a lack of information.

"I don't think that it's fair for our camps in Saskatchewan to have to wait" on a reopening plan, said executive director Holly Epp.

"I wish that the government would give us a definitive no."

Epp is concerned that it will be months before camps get any information.

"Our camps need to know if they're getting ready to go come January of 2021, if they're able to have overnight camps next summer," she said.

"We do really need some clarity and we need it sooner rather than later so that they can make financial plans and make their budget, and know how they are going to survive until the next season."

Calls to the Ministry of Health were not immediately returned.

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