As kids prepare for a summer of canoeing and dirt bikes, summer camps say they need support to survive
MONTREAL -- As the school year comes to a close and summer quickly approaches, the Quebec Camp Association is asking the provincial government to support camps as they prepare to welcome back a wave of kids ready to escape to the outdoors.
Overnight camps were only given the green light to operate earlier this month and are facing increased costs due to the pandemic, or unable to restart operations given the short notice.
“We are very clear in our request,” said Association de Camps du Quebec vice-president Shauna Joyce. “What we need is $6 million for overnight camps, and that's for overnight camps that will be operating facing increased costs and also ensure survivability of those camps that chose not to operate.”
In a statement, Alice Bergeron, press secretary to the junior Minister of Education Isabelle Charest said, "Collaboration between our government and the Association des Camps du Quebec is ongoing. As we have stated many times, our government wishes to do what's necessary in order to allow kids to have a fun and safe summer at camp."
But not all camps are struggling. Some like Dirt Camp in Bromont – a mountain biking oriented summer camp – have benefited from the increased popularity of biking during the pandemic.
“We originally were a sleepaway camp and that hung in balance as we waited to see what would happen, whether they would approve that. That really is our bread and butter,” said owner Jeff Silas, who made the decision to transition to a day camp earlier this year.
Despite his success, Silas believes camp is more important than every after a year of COVID-19 restrictions and those in need should get the help.
“If government can help camps that are not in such a fortunate position that we are, I think it would be the right thing to do.”
“(For) he kids really, (camp is) such an important outlet,” said Silas. The kids attending Dirt Camp agree.
“After such a difficult year on a social level, it permits us to be able to bond with other people,” said mountain bike camper Charlotte Mainville. She said she was feeling COVID fatigue and is happy to be back on the slopes.
“I think it will give me a bit of a motivation boost. I think I’ll be happier coming out of summer, like maybe I can take on this year.”