2020 Summer Update
19 May, 2020
Dear TSC Families, Campers, Long Trippers & Friends,
It is with deep sadness that the Board of Directors and leadership of the Taylor Statten Camps have made the very painful and difficult decision to cancel our Summer and Fall Camp Sessions and Canoe Tripping Programs for the full 2020 season. After careful consideration and consultation with experts, it became increasingly clear that the risks to bringing our community together in-person this summer would be extraordinarily unique and challenging. Ultimately, the decision was made and founded upon one goal – to safeguard the health and well-being of everyone in our community. This includes our full-time and summer staff, the returning campers who love their summers spent on Canoe Lake and out on canoe trip, the new campers who were looking forward to their first overnight camp experience, their families at home, and our September Camp Families, Alumni and Friends.
This would have been our 100th uninterrupted summer season on Canoe Lake, a Canadian tradition established in 1921 by my late Great-Grandfather, Taylor Statten. It is personally heartbreaking and unimaginable only a few months ago to think we would not be operating this summer. In this unprecedented moment in our camping history, we strongly believe it is incumbent upon us as industry leaders to provide the upmost duty of care to our Algonquin Park community. As we ask of our campers and staff to strive for every day each summer; to live in harmony with nature, their peers, and themselves. Without this harmony, we just would not be the camps we cherish so greatly!
There is no doubt that these last several months have brought significant disruptions to our lives. Ultimately, our decision to keep our camps closed, though based on many factors, is our inability to start-up our Canoe Lake operations after this long winter. This process traditionally begins in early April of each year, with more and more of our staff arriving each week as we move closer to the start of our July camper sessions. In a “normal” year it takes up to 12 weeks to prepare our site for the arrival of campers, which includes an extensive list of maintenance and operational tasks, administration and permitting, equipment ordering and building, Canoe Trip food packing and route planning, cleaning and painting, and compliance and inspection according to numerous local, provincial, and governmental regulations. Simply put, we have delayed and pushed back our opening procedures in compliance with emergency Covid-19 laws and regulations as much as possible, and even if the government were telling us today that we were allowed to operate (which they are NOT) we are now simply out of time to be able to start-up our Canoe Lake operations even if we wanted to (and that is to say nothing of the additional Covid-19 safety measures that would be applicable to our operations, full details of which have not yet even been provided to our industry).
What Happens Now?
We expect that our campers and their families will feel the cancellation of this summer’s program as profoundly as we do. We also understand that many of our campers were looking forward to milestone summers, and we are planning to work with you to address your concerns and questions about this. We are thinking of each one of you in light of this disappointing news and we are here for you. Our TSC community is bound together by our moments of shared celebrations and our challenges. We have assembled a list of Frequently Asked Questions and some advice on how to help your child cope with the cancellation of camp at the end of this letter.
What’s Next for Your Camper?
We will continue to share updates with you in this regard. While we long for the time we can spend together in person at camp, the full time TSC team will continue to offer ways to connect with camp virtually. And, in the coming days and weeks, we will provide more information about how to stay connected with TSC throughout the Summer and beyond.
We are committed to building summer experiences which are driven by our campers’ interests. We are eager to hear your thoughts about how to incorporate missed opportunities into future TSC virtual programming and if you have any ideas, we would be grateful for your input. In the meantime, we know there will be a number of questions regarding your camper registration fees. We hope the following will be helpful to you.
Option #1: This is the default option and requires no action on your part. All fully paid up campers that have remained registered with us (and again, thank you for your support and trust) will be refunded in full using the same method as the original payment. Due to the very high volume of administration required to complete this task, it may take up to eight weeks for your refund to be fully processed (including the time it takes your card provider or financial institution to re-credit your account). Unfortunately, we are unable to “roll-over” 2020 fees to 2021, and we thank you in advance for your understanding.
Option #2: Request a quick refund. With the extended closure of our business office, refunds may take longer than normal to process. While the timing is difficult to predict, we will work to expedite these requests as quickly as possible for any family that has experienced financial hardship as a result of Covid-19 and needs the return of their funds quickly. However, a 1-2 week timeline is possible. Please submit your refund request to email@example.com
All 2020 enrolled campers that stayed registered with us until today will be considered returning campers and will be eligible for priority registration for the 2021 summer program. In addition, campers participating in our Long Trip program may progress to the next tier in 2021, as if they had completed the pre-requisite in 2020, if desired. Campers that will become of CIT (counsellor-in-training) age (17 or turning 17 on or before 31 December 2021) may choose to participate in the canoe trip they will have missed in 2020, or participate in our CIT program as a member of our Summer staff in 2021 (although kindly note that we are unable to accept any camper that has reached the age of 18 years by the start of camp or at any time during their camp session).
There may be some of you that disagree with our decision to remain closed, and some of you who have been unhappy with our communications over the past two months. Please know that every communication was well thought out and planned; at times we thought of sending additional emails and updates, but we held back as we did not feel that we had anything of value to communicate to you. With over 700 camp families and 250 summer staff, each communication sent brought its own unique challenge of responding to the multitude of questions and feedback we received each time, alongside the challenges of dealing with our normal day to day registration and planning administration, and at times we hesitated from sending an update when we had nothing new to say or report, and we thank you for your understanding. Similarly, we know that it has been difficult to reach us live by telephone. With our offices being closed it has been nearly impossible to answer every call but, to our knowledge we have responded to every email enquiry, and we again thank you for your understanding.
Please know that The Taylor Statten Camps will continue to be here for you this Summer and beyond. We’ll just have to wait until next summer to celebrate our centennial as we come together as a stronger, more resilient, and more unified Camp Ahmek and Camp Wapomeo! We thank you for your support as we navigate through this difficult time, together.
Yours very sincerely,
Taylor C. Statten IV
Managing Director, Taylor Statten Camps
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why is TSC not waiting until the last possible minute to see if camp can operate?
We arrived at this difficult conclusion after ongoing conversations with local, regional, and federal medical authorities and other experts, as well as consultation with the camp’s professional and Summer leadership teams. Ultimately, we determined that we had long passed our start-up operations date in order to be ready for the Summer, on many levels, and that there are simply too many risks – both known and unknown, both now and over the full summer – to hold our programs as usual.
Will TSC offer virtual camp this Summer?
No. However, we know that camp extends beyond Canoe Lake and canoe trip; it dwells in our hearts, friendships, and our values. While nothing can replace the feeling of being together at camp, TSC is committed to offering some virtual camp experiences this summer to ensure that the ties that bind campers to one another and to their summer home remain as strong as ever. We are working on some options and we will communicate these in the weeks and months ahead.
What are the financial impacts of this decision on TSC?
We stand to lose a tremendous amount of money if we do not open AND we stand to lose even more money if we do open in a modified fashion, but are forced to close mid-season due to Covid-19. We may (or may not) see guidelines published in the weeks and months ahead but we are now simply out of time to bring us all back together at Canoe Lake this Summer. As a result, and with the goal of preserving TSC for the future, we are now looking forward to 2021.
How do I get a refund?
Option #1: This is the default option and requires no action on your part. All fully paid up campers that have remained registered with us will be refunded in full using the same method as the original payment. Due to the very high volume of administration required to complete this task, it may take up to eight weeks for your refund to be fully processed (including the time it takes your card provider or financial institution to re-credit your account). Unfortunately, we are unable to “roll-over” 2020 fees to 2021, and we thank you in advance for your understanding.
Option #2: Request a quick refund. With the extended closure of our business office, refunds may take longer than normal to process. While the timing is difficult to predict, we will work to expedite these requests as quickly as possible for any family that has experienced financial hardship as a result of Covid-19 and needs the return of their funds speedily. However, a 1-2 week timeline is possible. Please submit your refund request to firstname.lastname@example.org
I previously cancelled my camper’s session and paid a cancellation fee. Do I now get a cancellation fee refund?
Regrettably, no. TSC has limited insurance coverage related to our in-ability to start-up and operate due to Covid-19. We are able to refund our customers that have remained registered with us until we were forced to cancel, but this does not extend to previous client initiated cancellations in which you have already received your refund, less the agreed cancellation fee.
Why can’t I roll-over my fees paid to 2021?
TSC is a business and operates an annual financial year business cycle. We are unable to roll-over fees to our next financial year, and we apologize for this inconvenience.
My child is a Bursary Fund Camper. What happens there?
Any Taylor Statten Camping Bursary Fund contributions that you were due to receive will be returned by TSC to the Bursary Fund if already received. If you wish to re-register for a bursary in 2021 please contact the Bursary Fund directly. You will be fully refunded any fee contribution you made directly to TSC, in line with our refund policy stated above.
My camper is devastated that they cannot participate in their chosen long trip this year. Do they get priority for this trip in 2021?
Yes, campers that have remained registered with us up until now will receive priority in the consideration of their long trip application for 2021 if they want to complete the same trip, or they may progress to the next trip tier without having completed the pre-requisite in 2020. Kindly note that TSC reserves the right limit automatic trip tier progression for safety reasons, if relevant, and is unable to accept campers that have reached (or will reach) the age of 18 years at camp.
My camper wants to progress to the next long trip tier in 2021, but won’t have completed the pre-requisite. Will that be possible?
Yes, campers that have remained registered with us up until now will receive priority in the consideration of their long trip applications for 2021 if they want to complete the same trip, or they may progress to the next trip tier without having completed the pre-requisite in 2020. Kindly note that TSC reserves the right limit automatic trip tier progression for safety reasons, if relevant, and is unable to accept campers that have reached (or will reach) the age of 18 years at camp.
My camper was due to complete a long-trip in 2020, but will be of CIT (counsellor-in-training) age in 2021. What should they do?
We’ll leave the decision up to you. Provided your child will reach the age of 17 years in 2021, they will be eligible to participate in our CIT program in 2021. If instead they wish to take the trip they missed in 2020 they may do so provided they have not reached (or will not reach) the age of 18 during camp. We are unable to accept 18 year old campers.
My child was going to be a CIT (counsellor-in-training) in 2020. Will they get to be a cabin counsellor/guide/instructor in 2021?
We appreciate that missing your CIT year is a big deal, and as we get closer to Summer 2021 we will communicate various options to those that would have been CITs in 2020 what their options will be in 2021. We appreciate these are unprecedented times and we will find solutions that work for everybody.
Even though camp is cancelled this Summer I would like to bring my child to Canoe Lake to visit camp and/or use the facilities. Is that allowed?
No. Our Canoe Lake facilities will be closed this Summer for health and safety reasons, and may not have been fully inspected and certified for regular use by the authorities that govern our operations. We are unable to accept any visitors at Canoe Lake this Summer, whether by road or by boat.
When will the Online Tuck Shop re-open for the purchase of camp clothing and articles?
Our Business Office remains closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, when we do re-open we will get our online Tuck Shop open as quickly as possible, as we are unable to process orders during this mandatory office closure.
Can you send each family the 2020 TSC contact list so children can contact friends?
No. Due to Ontario privacy legislation we are unable to distribute camper and staff contact lists, but we are looking at additional ways to bring our community together on social media and if your camper wishes to contact another camper (but does not have their contact details) we would be pleased to assist bringing these campers together by following privacy consent protocols. If you wish to make use of this service, please contact email@example.com AFTER JULY 1st with the name of your camper and the name of the camper you are seeking contact details for. We are unable to offer this service until AFTER JULY 1st.
What about the TSC Summer Staff?
Notifications conveying this news, along with our deep sadness, were sent today to our Summer staff and volunteers of our camp community. We will support them in their endeavors to find alternative employment this Summer, and qualify for any governmental salary replacement program available. Our full-time staff remain employed with our company for the foreseeable future, and will begin working and planning for 2021 after we complete the administration for this Summer.
What can we do to help the local community in Algonquin Park? Can we help by supporting local businesses who work with the Taylor Statten Camps?
Please consider making a donation this year to the Friends of Algonquin or the Taylor Statten Camping Bursary Fund, details of which are on our website. Once it re-opens, please consider making a purchase from our online Tuck Shop.
Is September (Alumni) Camp also cancelled?
How to Help Your Camper Cope with the Cancellation of Camp this Summer
(TSC offers these words of advice, complied through various sources for educational purposes to assist our camp families at this very difficult time. The following should not be construed or taken as professional medical advice.)
Be direct and tell your child that due to Covid-19 camp has been cancelled for this Summer. We know you are juggling a million things right now but at this moment your child needs you to focus on them. A few minutes of undivided attention can have an immense impact. Pause what you are doing, find a quiet space and truly be with them.
Allow your child to express their feelings, let them cry, be angry, be quiet, and then let them cry some more. Allowing our children to express their feelings can be hard for parents, we tend to want to reassure and fix. However, affirming that this is an appropriate reaction will help them begin to process the loss of camp this Summer and look forward to 2021.
Give them space and time to express their thoughts and feelings and to grieve this loss. Children and teenagers process and react in many different ways and at different rates. Reacting to grief is not linear, a child who is happy one moment can be crying the next.
While parents may also be experiencing many feelings about Camp being cancelled, it is important that we allow our children to express what is on their minds and in their hearts. If we move to solutions too soon, they will miss the opportunity to share what is needed. Given the time and chance, children can develop resiliency in the face of disappointment and loss with the support of those around them.
Encourage your child to connect with their TSC friends, to reach out to others and not wait for others to text or reach out on social media. Supporting, and feeling supported by another person, can help them feel a sense of control over a situation in which they have no control. When ready, encourage your child to think about ways in which they can support others in the TSC community, this is a great time to display compassion.
Give them time to process. Some kids may need more time to understand. Some might be angry with TSC, allow them to feel mad, this is part of the grieving process. Be careful not to add your own feelings to theirs. Be understanding if they temporarily lack motivation for school or other responsibilities. Some children might show behaviors that they had already mastered, such as tantrums, or disrespect. Be patient, they will gain their equilibrium soon.
If you are concerned about the duration, intensity or frequency of your child’s response to the loss of camp this Summer, please reach out to a mental health professional in your area.