How Cairn is Responding to Concerns about COVID-19

How Cairn is Responding to Concerns about COVID-19


This is an announcement that is hard for us to make and may be hard for you to hear: We will be suspending all Cairn programs for the 2020 season.

As you may know, Premier Doug Ford announced on Tuesday May 19th that Ontario summer camps will be unable to operate this season. This announcement, while hard, was not entirely unexpected. For the past 2 months our directors and the Camp Board have been running through options and studying projections. We knew this was a possibility, but we hopefully awaited updates from the health unit, crossed our fingers until they ached, and brainstormed every possible solution we could think of. However no matter how we looked at it we came to the same conclusion the provincial government has – it is just not safe to run onsite programs this summer.

This is really hard It’s hard for our campers - those who have called Cairn home for years and those who should be experiencing the magic of camp for the first time this summer. It’s hard for our families, some of whom have been coming to camp as a family every year for more than 2 decades. It’s hard for our Leaders In Training who have spent their camp careers looking forward to their LIT experience. It’s hard for our staff, our alumni, our volunteers, and for all of those who call, or have called camp home.

We will miss meals filled with laughter, the sounds of splashing and fun echoing up from the lake, the excited shouts of campers going down the zipline, watching the stars come out each night, and singing around the campfire. We will miss gathering together as a community in the beauty of God’s creation.

You may be wondering how a season of not running camp may impact Cairn’s future. Although it is sad, this situation is one that we planned for and as we work on the next steps in that plan know that we will give you more information as we’re ready to do so. We know that we will need our community’s support, but right now, we want to hold space for what we’re all feeling right now.

This is really hard and it’s okay to be sad. We also know, because camp has taught us, that we can do hard things. We know that our camp community is overflowing with the love and support that will get us through this. We know that while this summer will look different, camp will continue to find ways to stay connected.

We’ll let you know more about what this summer will look like in the next days and weeks, but for now, we’re sending extra love out to our camp community.


As we grapple with and come to terms with this new reality, we know that you will likely have questions beyond what you've seen and read so far. We have attempted to answer some of those questions here, and will be updating this space as we receive more Frequently Asked Questions. We expect that to happen, because we know you care about your camper, and about camp. If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

What are my options for fees that I’ve already paid?

We recognize that this pandemic is financially affecting people in different ways. As such, we have several different options for families that have already paid some or all of their fees:

  • If you are able, we ask you to consider donating a portion of your deposit or paid camp fees to support Cairn's continued operation and advancement of our mission to share God's love, create connections and foster growth through supportive ministry and transformative summer camp programs.
  • Request a full refund, which would include the deposit.
  • Apply any payment already made for the 2020 season as a credit towards camp sessions next year (2021) or split evenly over the next two years (2021 and 2022)

What is the process to indicate what I would like done for my camper registration and registration fees? Should I call or email camp?

Over the next few days, we will be trying to reach out to as many families as possible to connect with you in person. If you are requesting a partial or full refund, please know that will be processing refunds starting on Tuesday May 26. If you would like, you are also welcome to contact the camp office directly to let us know how you would like your deposit or registration fee allocated. By emailing We recognize that there may be a delay in responding to your call or email as we are actively in contact with all of our camp families right now. We are grateful for your patience and understanding, and will get back to you as soon as we can. 

Did the Cairn Family of Camps consider alternatives to cancelling the entire summer?

We did. We looked at a variety of options including postponing the start of camp for two weeks, or having camp in August only, reducing camper capacity to have smaller cabin groups, implementing rotating mealtimes to minimize the need for everyone to be in the lodge at the same time, and eliminating large group gatherings such as campfires and free swim. We also explored different options for cleaning and sanitizing various areas. Ultimately, with the lack of sufficient testing nationwide, limited space for quarantine, and public health projections of the potential spread of COVID-19 specifically at summer camps, we decided none of these options would be responsible for the safety of our campers, camper families, staff, and greater camp community, and it would definitely impact the camp experience for all involved.

If guidelines/recommendations clear up during the summer, will you reconsider this decision?

Unfortunately, we will not be able to change course mid-summer. Due to the amount of preparation that goes into opening site, preparing facilities, and training staff, let alone the additional policies and practices that would need to be developed to ensure safety while restrictions are still being lifted, we simply cannot safely open mid-summer. Additionally, it would be unfair to expect our summer staff to put everything on hold for their summers, waiting to see if anything changed.

This is going to be really difficult for my camper. Do you have any advice on how to talk to them about summer camp being suspended?

We absolutely understand that not being able to attend camp is one of many disappointments that your camper has experienced this spring. We would recommend watching this video, which talks specifically about grieving the loss of camp, called Helping Our Kids Manage Disappointment Over Cancelled Camp and Summer Plans by Dr. Tina Payne Bryson.

We know this is difficult. Please do not hesitate to contact our camp office  at with any questions, or if there is anything we can do to help you and your family navigate the many impacts this may and will have on your family.

Cairn Connects 

In a time when we our campers are out of school, and we are being encouraged to stay around home, Cairn wants to bring a little taste of the camp community to you in your home. Our staff and alumni have been hard at work to create a daily program to remind us that, whether physically together or spiritually together, we have a camp community that is loving, joy-bringing, and can be supportive to each other as our families navigate the burden of this pandemic. Please see the Cairn Connects page or contact Robynne "Mapes" Howard, Camp Director, at for more information.

COVID-19 Updates from the Executive Director

If you are would like to know more about how Cairn is - and has been - responding to the impacts of COVID-19, please see the updates from our Executive Director, Michelle Roberts here. Know that we will continue to post on this page as more information becomes available to us, and if any decisions are made about modifying or suspending camp programs. 

Camp Documents

How Cairn is Responding to Concerns about COVID-19