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.


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 safety measures that will need to be taken due to COVID-19. Camper safety takes priority, and with projections that COVID-19 will still be playing a role in our decisions at camp this summer, extra precautions will be necessary. Along with the expected additional cleaning, sanitizing, and hand washing supplies, this increase will allow for the purchasing of program equipment (high ropes harnesses, archery bows and strings, arts and crafts supplies etc.), so that campers won’t be sharing equipment, and there will be enough time for proper sanitizing between uses. It is projected that the cost of operating camp will increase by 15-20% with all of the necessary COVID-19 changes, which will be only partially covered through camper registrations, and so we will be organizing fundraising efforts to help cover the rest of those costs.

This year we are also making it a priority to increase the capacity of our Campership program. We recognize the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on families, and are committed to ensuring that financial barriers do not impact access for children to experience a transformative summer at camp. Campership applications will be made available when Registration opens on February 1st.

It is important to us that you have the flexibility you need as you consider and plan for the upcoming year for your children. To make sure of this, Cairn’s Refund Policy for 2021 will allow you to cancel your registration and receive a full refund up to one week prior to the start of your camper's session without penalty.

As always, please do contact us if you have any questions, concerns, or would like to connect directly. 

Best wishes for this Christmas season,
Robynne and Michelle

Camp Documents

Updates Regarding COVID-19 and Cairn Programs