SUMMER 2021 UPDATE
It is with deep sadness that the Taylor Statten Camps Board of Directors and its leadership team have had to make the very painful and difficult decision to cancel our summer in-camp sessions and special canoe tripping programs for the full 2021 season. After careful consideration and consultation with our medical team, it has become increasingly clear that the safety risks associated with bringing our community together, in-person this summer to Canoe Lake, would be just too great. Ultimately, the decision was made and founded upon one goal: to safeguard the health and wellbeing of everyone in our community. This includes our full-time and summer staff, those returning campers who love to spend their summers on Canoe Lake, the new campers who were looking forward to their first overnight camp experience, and our September Camp families, alumni and friends.
It is important to keep in mind that the Ontario government has not yet permitted overnight camps to open for this summer. Overnight camping is not currently permitted on Crown Land, and visitation to many First Nations communities and certain parks is currently prohibited. In addition, for our staff (many of whom come from outside Canada), under the Quarantine Act, entry into Canada includes a required 14-day quarantine.
Over the last 12 months, the TSC leadership team has considered all of the obstacles on our path to re-opening. We have carefully prepared plans for every eventuality (including running canoe trips only, to changing session lengths), and we have drafted numerous Covid related procedures and protocols. We considered rapid and frequent testing requirements, before and during camp, and enhanced systems for camper intake and safely transporting campers to/from camp and to/from canoe trip. We have collaborated with experts, from our team of medical doctors and public health officials, to immigration consultants to assist us with bringing our international campers and staff into Canada. However, what we could not change was the worsening Covid-19 situation unfolding in Ontario and throughout Canada.
Following Canada’s recent announcement on April 20 to extend the closure of the US/Canada border until at least May 21, we have reached the point as an organization where we need to make decisions about our ability to operate this summer. Through our lobbying via the Ontario Camps Association (OCA) there was hope that an exemption for campers to travel to Canada would be provided. The exemption is not moving forward. The situation in Ontario remains challenging, with Covid cases at an all-time high, and the province in a lockdown until at least May 20 and possibly further. Ontario’s situation is significantly worse than 1 year ago, and the delays and obstacles in Ontario’s vaccination rollout is serious cause for concern.
By our estimation, it is unlikely that Covid-related conditions will improve as swiftly as we would need them to in order for us to be able to open our facilities on Canoe Lake. The current restrictions in place are blocking our ability to move ahead with our opening and operational plans.
There is no doubt that these last 16 months have brought significant disruption to our lives. We have delayed and pushed back our opening procedures in compliance with emergency Covid-19 laws and regulations as much as possible. Even if the Provincial government were to tell us today that we can operate (which they are NOT), we are now out of time to be able to start-up our Canoe Lake operations. 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. Our operational process begins in late April of each year, with more and more staff arriving each week, the closer we get to the start of July camp. In a “normal” year it takes us between 8-10 weeks to open up and 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 ordering and packing, canoe route planning, site cleaning and painting, and compliance and inspection according to local, provincial, and governmental regulations.
We are thinking of each one of you in light of this disappointing news and we are here for you.
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 their milestone summer. We are planning to work with you to address your concerns and questions about this. This has not been an easy decision for us, particularly in light of the fact that TSC will not have operated for two consecutive business cycles. Our TSC community is bound together by our moments of shared celebration and challenge.
TSC will continue to be here for you this summer and beyond. We thank you for your incredible support as we navigate through this historical time, together.
Your Taylor Statten Camps Office Team