'Memory-making for your family': Overnight summer camps getting creative amid COVID-19 restrictions
BRUCE PENINSULA -- With ongoing COVID-19 restrictions threatening the future of overnight summer camps this year, some businesses are adjusting while remaining a gateway to the great outdoors.
Some camps in the Ontario are opting to scrap overnight camping altogether and instead allow families to rent out cabins for a nostalgic getaway.
"Camp for me was the most important thing in my childhood growing up. I looked forward to it more than anything else all year long," said Kristin Monette, a former camper at the YMCA's Camp Wabanaki near Perry Sound.
"I never thought in my 40s I'd be able to go back to camp and I'm really excited to share that with my kids."
Three of the YMCA's camps won't offer overnight camping.
"Our waterfront will be open for swimming, boating, archery, there will be an option for families o sign up for some facilitated activities," said Caitie Wright, the YMCA's general manager of camping. "Really just some memory-making for your family in the safety of your own bubble."
Camp Kiway in St. Clements and Camp Belwood in Fergus both plan to offer more day camps instead of overnight options.
"Camp is life changing, so we're happy we can still welcome kids to camp in a different way," Wright said.
Camp Celtic in Lion's Head has launched what they're calling 'Celtic Lodge,' allowing families to rent cabins as a jumping off point to explore the Bruce Peninsula.
"It's kind of a glorified Air BNB thing," said Tim Matheson, Camp Celtic's senior director. "We have all these cabins and all these cottages, all this space, where everyone can be physically distanced."
But Matheson is still hoping camps will get the green light from the province and be able to offer more traditional programming, adding Camp Celtic is already fully booked for the summer should programs be allowed to run.
He said more than a year into the pandemic, some kids might need camp more than ever.
"Getting in the out of doors and having fun and laughing and basically being at camp has to be regenerative," Matheson said.