KITCHENER -- A summer tradition many kids look forward to is being cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The City of Kitchener has officially cancelled its 2020 summer camps.

Staff are instead exploring alternative options that follow physical distancing and social gathering guidelines.

For potential campers, news of the cancellations has been difficult to hear.

“I feel really sad about that,” says Jacky Drouillard-Hanna.

The seven-year-old won’t be going to camp this summer.

“We can’t spend time with our friends and we can’t really do any physical activities,” she says.

“We’re involved in summer camps throughout the seasons, and unfortunately no Kung Fu, no camp,” says Jacky’s mom Kelly Drouillard.

The city has cancelled all 15 of its planned summer camps.

“People signed up for a particular camp, a particular activity, and we know this year, we’re not going to be able to offer it the same way,” says Berry Vrbanovic, mayor of Kitchener.

“It’s a little harder. You don’t get that nice routine or exercise with being with the club and the community,” says Drouillard.

All of the campers that registered will be authorized a full refund by the city.

“We’ve seen about 550-560 families who have registered and all those families will be receiving an automatic refund,” says Vrbanovic.

In the meantime, staff are also looking at alternatives to the traditional summer camp experience.

“Formats ranging from virtual to small group formats, but things that will allow physical distancing. It depends on how well we’re all doing of flattening the curve,” says Vrbanovic.

Both Waterloo and Cambridge are also looking at different options, but what any day camp will look like in the future is still up in the air.

“It really sucks, but well I guess COVID-19 is here and I guess you have to stay in,” says Colten Hickey, summer camper.

“He has an understanding of what’s going on in the world today, but it’s still got to be difficult to have all those things, the passions, taken away from you throughout the summer,” says Colten’s uncle, Chris Hickey.

It will depend on the rules set out by the province and public health.

“I don’t know how they would do it for soccer and what he’s used to, but if there was alternative for him, absolutely yeah,” Hickey adds.

Vrbanovic says he hopes the alternative programs will launch in July but that the start date will of course depend on the guidelines set by the province and public health.