Queen’s, local YMCA cancel summer camps

Photo by Piron Guillaume.

Queen’s University and the YMCA of Eastern Ontario have both decided to cancel summer camps for the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The impacts of the pandemic have been difficult for everyone, including parents and children,” said Rob Adams, CEO of Eastern Ontario, in a press release on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. “They also hit youth employment where the Y has a large role, but the health and safety of our staff and the children in our care comes first.”

The local YMCA said that the decision to cancel their summer youth recreation camps for 2020 was based on the difficulties in providing needed physical distancing to keep staff and children safe.

The local Y said the decision was made over the weekend, and then validated by Premier Ford’s announcement to keep schools across Ontario closed for the remainder of the school year, and the uncertainty over the when the next phase of openings could take place.

“All our decisions are made first on health and safety. While we had not started camp registrations when we announced our closure, and this announcement will at least give parents some certainty over Y camps for this summer,” Adams said.

Queen’s University called its move to cancel its summer camps a “difficult decision” and cited the current public health environment and challenges presented by physical distancing as the primary reasons for it, nothing that physical distancing requirements are likely to remain in place through the end of the summer.

“We understand that this is disappointing news for campers and their parents,” Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) for Queen’s University said in a statement on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. “The impacts and restrictions imposed on our community as we respond to the COVID-19 situation continues to be hard on everyone, and it’s been especially tough on families with young children.”

All registration fees paid to a Queen’s Summer Camp will be refunded, and parents or caregivers should consult their specific camp websites or administrators for details. The University noted that students who are unemployed as a result of the decision may be eligible for one of several federal COVID-19 emergency benefit programs, and welcomed students impacted by the decision to contact the Student Awards office with any questions.

The statement also noted that a few camps are exploring options for online summer camp programming, but said those plans are still in development.

“The university knows that the camp experience is an important one for children and counsellors. Queen’s camps have been a popular tradition in Kingston for years, and the university looks forward to maintaining that tradition once it is safe to do so,” the statement reads.

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