Updates Regarding COVID-19 and Cairn Programs

Updates Regarding COVID-19 and Cairn Programs

This page will be updated monthly until the start of summer camp, or in the event of significant news from the government or local health unit pertaining to camp programs.

Please know that you are always invited to contact the Cairn office directly if you are seeking additional information by emailing info@ilovecamp.org.

April 2022 Update

Good afternoon camp families,

Since the release of Carin’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy in January, COVID has continued to evolve, and many changes have been made to Ontario’s COVID-19 response. After careful consideration of current government guidance and consultation with public health, the Ontario Summer Camps Association, summer camp professionals, and staff members, the Cairn Camp Board has updated Cairn’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.

Updated COVID-19 Vaccination Policy Summary: 

  • All Cairn staff must be fully vaccinated and boosted before beginning their employment. Any staff wishing to apply for medical exemption must contact the Cairn office no later than 1 month prior to their arrival at Cairn.

  • Cairn encourages all participants/campers to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as an expression of community care and safety. While vaccinations are strongly encouraged, they are not mandatory for participation in a Cairn summer program.

  • All summer campers must disclose their vaccination status on their health form.

Cairn encourages all participants to be vaccinated but recognizes that additional COVID-19 protocols will play an essential role in limiting COVID-19 transmission and creating a safe camp environment. Guidance from the Ministry of Health and Ontario Camps Association is changing regularly but we will be communicating our summer COVID-19 protocols protecting the health and safety of our camp community by the end of June. These measures may include; cohorting, masking, rapid testing, screening, etc. 

We understand that vaccination can be a divisive issue and for some these policies may be too strict, and that for others, they may be too lenient. Please reach out to konk@ilovecamp.org if you have questions or concerns. If you would like to make changes to your registration you can contact the camp office at admin@ilovecamp.org.


Michelle "Konk" Roberts
Executive Director

March 2022 Update

To our camp families,

We do hope you have been enjoying these early spring days! While Baysville is still under at least a foot of snow, there are so many signs pointing toward the warmer days ahead. 

Summer camp is approaching, and with that, we wanted to connect with you to share the most recent conversations we’ve been having about COVID-19 and camp this summer.

The Cairn directors and the Camp Board have been committed to regularly reviewing all of our COVID-19 policies to ensure they stay relevant and in line with the evolving information about best practices. 

On January 31st, Cairn issued a COVID-19 vaccination policy stating that all staff, and all participants ages 5 and older will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to participate in Cairn's programs. Since then, there have been a number of changes in the Ontario government’s COVID-19 response, including lifting vaccination requirements in the province as of March 1st, and then lifting the mask mandate as of March 21st.

As always, we continue to consult guidance from our local public health unit, the Ontario Camps Association, the Ontario government, and other regulatory bodies, to advise and inform Cairn’s health and safety policies.

With the recent changes in Ontario’s policies, the Cairn leadership is once again in conversation about what this means for us at camp this summer. Over the next few weeks, the directors and Camp Board will be meeting to explore whether we will continue to require COVID-19 vaccination for our summer 2022 programs.

At this point, no changes have been made to Cairn’s COVID-19 policies. We will be in contact with you again by the end of April, and will keep you informed with any decisions made as these conversations continue.

Regarding other COVID-19 safety considerations, we will be updating our policies along with the release of updated guidance for overnight camps. These will inform other elements of our programs, including masking, cohorts, meal procedures, and testing and isolation requirements. All of this will be communicated as policies are made, prior to the start of the summer camp season.

Please always be in touch if you have questions or thoughts to share about camp this summer. 

With thanks,

Robynne "Mapes" Howard
Camp Director

February 2022 Update

Earlier this month, the Ontario Government announced that they will begin to lift restrictions for vaccination requirements in the province starting March 1st. Cairn's COVID-19 vaccination policy - stating that all staff and all participants ages 5 and older will be required to be fully vaccinated in order to participate in Cairn's programs - will remain in place at this time. The Cairn leadership, including the directors and the camp board, will continue to review all of our COVID-19 policies regularly, considering guidance from the Ontario Camps Association, our local health unit, and provincial guidance.

We are also keeping an eye out for any provincial and local direction that is specific to summer camps. So far, there have been no modifications to summer camp operational directives for 2022. 

The Cairn leadership and staff are exicted to continue planning for summer kids camp in 2022! While we assume that certain COVID restrictions will still be in place, we continue to plan programs and prepare for campers to be back on site this summer, confident that we will be able to implement policies and procedures to keep campers and staff safe this summer.

January 2022 Update - Vaccination Policy

Cairn is committed to providing the safest possible experience to our campers, LITs, families, and staff. To this end the Cairn team continues to develop COVID-19 protocol based on Public Health recommendations, guidelines from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and the advice of health experts and medical professionals. To keep all members of our camp community safe Cairn has implemented a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.

Vaccination Policy Summary:

  • All participants and staff who are eligible must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to their arrival at Cairn.

  • All participants and staff must provide proof of vaccination at minimum two weeks prior to their arrival at Cairn.

  • Any individual wishing to apply for a medical exemption must contact the Cairn office no later than 1 month prior to their arrival at Cairn.

For more details read the full Cairn COVID-19 Vaccination Policy. For questions concerning the COVID-19 vaccination policy please contact executivedirector@ilovecamp.org.

December 2021 Update

With regular updates coming out about the COVID-19 Omicron variant, vaccines, and booster shots, our Directors continue to monitor what the impact may be on our upcoming season. We are continuing to plan for summer camp 2022, and are staying vigilant and mindful as updates are released from healthcare professionals. Specifically looking ahead to summer 2022:

  1. The Cairn Directors and Board will continue to keep an eye on the vaccination rollout for kids under the age of 12. With consultation from our local health unit, Ontario government, and the Ontario Camps Association, we will make a decision about vaccination requirements for campers in the New Year, once more information about eligibility and health policy is available. 
  2. Additionally, the Cairn leadership will be following along with the advice of local and provincial health and government regarding booster/third dose eligibility, availability, and recommendations, and will be mindful of how this may pertain to older campers, staff, and volunteers. Updates will be communicated directly with camper families and staff if and as policies are updated.

As winter is upon us, we send wishes of joy and good health to all members of our Cairn community.

Merry Christmas to you!

November 2021: Looking toward Summer Camp 2022

We are excited to announce that registration for overnight summer camp programs will be opening on Tuesday November 9th! This announcement comes after months of thoughtful consideration, learning from healthcare professionals and the Ontario Camps Association, consulting with our camp families, and reflecting on this past summer's on-site Away at the Lake retreat program. 

As we have learned again and again, COVID-19 is unpredictable, and so policies and best practices have been ever-changing. At this point, the Cairn leadership feels there are a few key factors that make us very optimistic for summer 2022:

  1. Vaccines.
    • In spring 2021, vaccines were only just becoming available. By the end of summer 2021, 100% of Cairn's staff team were fully vaccinated. Full vaccination will be mandatory for staff in 2022.
    • Current reports are suggesting vaccines will be available for younger kids soon. That means the risk of COVID-19 transmission significantly decreases in congregate settings like schools and camps. We - like you - will be keeping a careful eye out for any news about vaccine development for our younger population.
  2. We ran on-site programs in 2021.
    • With evolving guidance from our government and health unit, we were able to safely run overnight programs on site in summer 2021 - and with no known COVID cases, hurrah!
    • This gives us as directors the confidence that we have the tools, strategies, and resources to operate summer camp safely in 2022, even if there will still be COVID risk to mitigate (which - at this point - we're pretty sure there will be)
  3. There is guidance specifically for Ontario overnight summer camps with COVID-19 safety considerations.
    • Summer camp guidance was released in July 2021, which was too late for us to be able to feel confident in operating safely this past summer. 
    • Even if there are changes, the 2021 guidance provides us with a solid, informed starting point for planning summer camp 2022.

And frankly, we're determined.

We've heard from SO many campers and camper families how much they have missed what they gain from camp - the community, the stimulation, the outdoor adventure, the faith environment, the time away, and the chance to learn and grow through conquering challenges.

Kids need it. It can be done safely. So let's make it happen.

Health & Safety and COVID-19 at Fall Retreat Programs

**New Vaccination Information**
With the Ontario Government's new policies on vaccination requirements in businesses, effective September 22, 2021, Cairn will be requiring that all program attendees must be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days), and provide proof of vaccination status along with photo ID upon arrival. Those who cannot receive the vaccine due to valid medical reasons will be required to provide a doctor’s note. This relates to participants at Women's Wellness Weekend and Fall Work Weekend.

Program Protocol
At all times, we ask that all guests respect Cairn's COVID-19 safety measures, and remain aware of the comfort and wellbeing of other participants as well. There are some cases where guests are able to make decisions independently. For example, guests may attend a fall retreat with any friends, relatives etc. they so choose, and these will be the people with whom they share an overnight accommodation. Like in a restaurant, guests are able to eat meals with whomever they choose, whether household groups, or choosing to eat with friends they meet over the weekend. There will be an opportunity to make requests for meal seating at registration. Consider the comfort of others, all guests are asked to practice physical distancing when interacting with individuals outside of their group/household, including staff. This means keeping a minimum distance of 2 meters between members of different groups/households.

Daily COVID-19 Screening
Upon arrival at camp a Cairn, prior to moving into your accommodation, guests will register in the Breezeway where a staff member will assist you in completing a Guest COVID-19 Screening Form for each member of your household. We request that you come complete your screening first, so you can be screened before interacting with other people. If any member of your group does not pass the screening you will be required to leave site immediately. Guests will be screened on Saturday and Sunday morning at breakfast as well.

Masks are required at all indoor locations with the following exceptions:

  • In your accommodation
  • While showering
  • While eating/drinking

Masks are required to be worn outdoors in the following circumstances:

  • While attending programs (with the exception of swimming, boating or during fitness activities).
  • Whenever a consistent distance of 2 meters cannot be maintained between members of your group/household and members of the Cairn staff or other groups/households.
  • When singing or participating in a campfire with individuals outside of your group/household.

Should any of Ontario's guidelines change, these procedures will be updated and adjusted accordingly.

Announcement: Suspension of Summer Camp 2021

Dear Cairn Family,

It is with great sadness that we are sharing our difficult decision to cancel our overnight children’s camp programs for the 2021 season. 

Briefly, what you need to know:

  • We did not come to this decision lightly. Since last summer, our goal was always to be able to offer our traditional overnight camp program - if we could do so safely.
  • Despite lowering case numbers, the vaccine roll out and an informal statement from the Ontario Government regarding camp programs, the projections of the spread of COVID-19 and the variants and remaining uncertainty of regulations with less than 6 weeks remaining before the beginning of the summer poses too much risk for our camp community.
  • Cairn will be offering our Away At The Lake summer retreat program for individuals, families, households and small groups (following guidelines designated by the Ontario Government and Public Health) to plan their summer getaway to camp with an all-inclusive summer experience. Registration will open May 31st. More details are available below.
  • Families currently registered for the 2021 camp season will be offered the option to refund, carry forward or donate any camper fees already paid. You can indicate how you would like any payment reallocated using this form here.

We recognize that this news may be confusing, frustrating and saddening to our camp community. We are feeling all of those feelings as well. If you have any more questions, or need any clarification please do not hesitate to reach out. 

Why is this decision being made now?
We have spent the past year doing everything we can to make camp a reality in 2021. We wanted, and expected to welcome our campers home this summer, to be a part of the return to normalcy that we all need.  We consulted with our healthcare team, created safety plans, made adjustments to programs, and eagerly awaited government guidance.However, as we have drawn closer to the summer we find our province in an even more precarious position than we were in last spring. 

At a time when we were hoping for re-opening guidance from the government we are instead in the middle of an extended stay-at-home order. Instead of watching case rates decline we have watched them climb as new and more dangerous variants spread.

Instead of being able to welcome our campers home this summer we have reached the point where we have had to make the heartbreaking decision to once again cancel our overnight kids camp programs.

Why was this decision made?
The safety of our campers, families, and staff is always our top priority, and based on current projections, we do not believe it is responsible to bring hundreds of children and youth from all over the province into a congregate living setting this summer. Even with our plans to create a safe camp environment through cohorting, screening, and a variety of other health and safety measures, the risk that COVID-19 and the variants of concern poses is just too great to operate our traditional overnight program. 

What if I have already registered for the 2021 season?
We will be in touch directly with all our families who have registered for 2021 programs with information on how to cancel your 2021 registration. All refunds/credits requests will be processed through an online form which can be accessed by clicking here, and will be sent out directly to all registered families via email on Wednesday, May 19th 2021. To review our cancellation and refund policy, please click here.

I still have questions. Who can I contact?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions. As we will be busy over the next days and weeks processing 2021 registration cancellations and preparing registration for Away At The Lake, we ask that you please contact us through email instead of phone, you can reach us at admin@ilovecamp.org. We will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.

Will there be an opportunity for my family to come to camp this year?
Yes! You will still be able to experience camp this summer, just in a new way. Cairn will be offering our Away At The Lake summer retreat. This program will invite individuals, families, households and small groups (following guidelines designated by the Ontario Government and Public Health) to plan their summer getaway to camp with an all-inclusive summer experience. Food service is provided, varied accommodation options will be offered, and a number of staff-facilitated and self-run programs will be available to book throughout your stay. Registration will be open for Away At The Lake summer retreat on Monday May 31st.

While this summer may look different than we had hoped, we are still excited to welcome our camp family home once again. We will be in touch over the next days and weeks with more information about Away At The Lake summer retreat and how to register. 
Thank you for your continued support of Cairn, we are so grateful to have such an incredible community. Sending out extra love out to our camp community, 
Michelle “Konk” Roberts
Executive Director, Cairn Family of Camps

April 2021 Update

(April 20, 2021)

With the increase in Ontario's COVID case count, we recognize the increasing worry of how COVID-19 could affect our 2021 summer plans. We, like everyone else, are looking ahead and hoping that increased vaccination, public health measures, and more recoveries will mean that the situation in Ontario will improve, while trying to remain proactive and realistic at the same time.

And of course, the kids just can't WAIT to get back outside, to have a change of space, and to spend time with their friends. A summer at camp would be SUCH a benefit to the wellbeing of our campers right now. Which is exactly why we as directors, our year-round staff team, seasonal staff team, and the Camp Board, will be continuing to work now to ensure camp is ready for kids this summer. 

At this time, we are planning and preparing to run overnight kids’ camp this season, with COVID policies in place to safeguard the health and safety of our campers, families, and staff. While we acknowledge the current COVID numbers are concerning, we feel it is too soon to make any definitive decisions about the coming summer. Last year, the government didn't make an announcement about overnight camps until the end of May, and so we imagine that they are also waiting to see what happens in the upcoming weeks.

The Ontario Camps Association has been working with the government and public health to do everything they can to ensure that camps can run safely this summer. If you would like to support their effort, they are organizing a letter-writing campaign for adults and kids to share the importance of camp with their MPPs. You can find more information at https://planforcamp.ca/.

While we wait for government and public health guidance we will be simultaneously planning for overnight summer camp for our campers, and further exploring alternative options for opening site. Regardless of the outcome, we believe in the importance of having a space for retreat and rejuvenation amidst this pandemic, and are committed to making this opportunity available on site at camp this summer.

Please always be in touch if you have questions or thoughts to share about camp this summer. We’re praying for you, as you too continue to adapt to and navigate challenges and changes. 

Thinking of you.
Mapes and Konk

March 2021 Update

(March 10, 2021)

Summer seems to be evermore on the minds of kids, families, and our camp community - and on the mind of the media as well. Over the past couple of weeks, CTV News and The Star have both published articles speculating about overnight camps running this summer. Both articles also quote updates from Jack Goodman, Director of Camp New Moon (which is our neighbour camp in Baysville!), and the chair of the Ontario Camp Association’s COVID-19 task force that we referred to in last month's update. Since then, the Ontario Camps Association has published a first draft of their guidelines for opening camps this summer, and is continuing to work alongside the Ontario government to review and revise that draft document.

For us at Cairn, we are using a number of resources, including this draft document from the OCA, the Field Guide for Camps on Implementation of CDC Guidance regarding COVID-19 published by the American Camps Association, and a team of Cairn healthcare workers who are familiar with our programs and operations as we plan for 2021.

Of course we acknowledge that there is still uncertainty when considering how vaccine rollout, COVID variants, and other factors will affect the trajectory of COVID-19 between now and the summer. We will continue preparing for an in-person summer camp experience that we know will be impacted by policies and practices to prevent and respond to COVID-19.

At this point we know the summer is going to be "different" AND we also know that the positive impact that a summer at camp will on the mental health, physical health, and social-emotional development of our campers, staff, directors, and families.

With thanks,
Robynne and Michelle

February 2021 Update

With General Registration now open, we have been delighted to share the energy and excitement about summer camp with many families and campers through emails and phone calls!

Do know that there are already a few camps with waitlists, a reality that we were expecting as a result of the 50% registration cap. We can anticipate that there will still be shifting of campers between sessions between now and the summer, so we are encouraging families to keep your camper's name on the waitlist of that preferred session, and perhaps register for their second choice of camp as well. You will be notified if a position becomes available, and will be able to transfer between sessions up to 1 week before the start of that camp session.

With respect to COVID-19 in the greater camping world, the Ontario Camps Association has created a COVID-19 Task Force comprised of Camp Directors, government officials, and medical staff (including a doctor from SickKids hospital) to create a set of guidelines for camps to safely operate in a COVID-conscious manner this summer. They will be releasing a draft of this document in the upcoming weeks, and will be working with the provincial government and local health units over the next weeks and months to refine these guidelines according to current and projected best-practice.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with further questions, and we'd be happy to share any information and projections we can.

With thanks,
Michelle and Robynne 

January 2021 Update

Happy New Year to you, from your Cairn family!

The changing of the calendar makes summer feel just that much closer - and we can imagine you might be dreaming of those warm summer days too! With this, we wanted to provide some updated information about Cairn's camp programs for summer 2021.

The Cairn Directors and Board continue to follow along closely with Public Health and government releases about COVID-19, and are constantly applying this learning to how COVID-19 may affect camp this upcoming season. We have been in contact with our Camp Med Staff to begin discussing the potential impact of vaccines on our camp programs. These doctors, nurses and paramedics will continue to serve as a support for Cairn Directors and staff as we design and plan the specific elements of each of our camp programs. Additionally, the Ontario Camps Association, through whom Cairn is accredited, is currently working with a team of public health experts, including doctors from Sick Kids in Toronto, to create a series of guidelines for Ontario camps this summer. We are so grateful for the access we have to these people and these resources.

We are excited to begin planning for campers to return to camp in Baysville, and are pleased to announce that General Registration will open on February 1st for overnight programs! Registration will be open to 50% capacity to stay in compliance with anticipated indoor space requirements per person. We have also modified some elements to our staffing structure and scheduling to accommodate cabin-based cohorting, and are continuing to develop draft policies for all elements of a camper’s week at camp: from drop-off and pick-up procedures to meal procedures to sanitizing procedures for program equipment to the logistics of Free Swim. 

We have not yet come to a decision about if Family Camp can be run safely this summer. One of the main factors we are considering is capacity, which includes elements such as meal operations, including food service and physical space in the dining hall or outside; shared bathroom facilities and supplementing the Lodge bathrooms with portable toilets and handwashing units; if and how tent/trailer camping is a possibility; and staffing, scheduling, and activity options. Various options are being considered for family-based programs, and we will be in touch again in the spring once decisions are made regarding how we will proceed regarding Cairn Family Camp 2021.

We will continue to provide updates here and via email to registered families with any new information. As always, please do contact us if you have any questions, concerns, or would like to connect with a member of the Directing team. 

With thanks,
Robynne and Michelle

December 2020 Update

December has arrived, and as there are fewer and fewer days of 2020 left, we, in the Cairn office (well, in our home offices!), have turned all of our focus to summer 2021. With that, we wanted to provide you with an update regarding the process for camp registration for 2021.

Registration will officially open on February 1st, 2021 for our summer 2021 season. We will be sharing reminders leading up to February 1st on our Cairn Facebook and Instagram pages. Because registration is opening later than usual, do know that we will not be having any Early Bird Discounts this year.

To be proactive about the most likely COVID-19 impacts on our summer, we will only be opening camp registration to 50% capacity at this time. Should restrictions lessen over the spring, we will be able to open more bunks when it is responsible to do so, and will announce if and when that happens. 

In order to ensure you have all the information you need regarding 2021 registration, we want to let you know that there will be a $65 increase to the cost of a week at camp for the 2021 season compared to 2020, to account for the additional health and s

Updates Regarding COVID-19 and Cairn Programs