MONTREAL -- For families across Quebec, the arrival of spring usually marks the time to register their children and teenagers for summer camp. However, at the present time, only day camps will be able to open their doors in June. In fact, the overnight sleepaway camps have not been given the mandate to open, thus depriving thousands of young people of a unique experience in nature for a second consecutive summer.

Given the disastrous consequences the pandemic measures have had on the physical and psychological health of children and adolescents, we believe that opening summer camps is more important now than ever.

Socialization and physical activity are essential for the proper physical and mental development during childhood. However, the impact of the pandemic has led to a worrisome increase in isolation, sedentariness, screen time, eating disorders and psychological distress.

For this reason, we feel it is appropriate to consider the many benefits that summer camps offer to children and teenagers. According to a study by the University of Waterloo, camps allow young people to develop their interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, self-confidence and autonomy.

It has also been shown that attending summer camp contributes to the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits, and campers are generally more inclined to participate in sports activities after their stay. Teenagers, now more than ever, need a job that gives them a sense of purpose and the opportunity to develop technology-free relationships. Summer camp meets all of these needs.

Finally, camps give young people, especially those living in urban areas or from underprivileged backgrounds, a rare contact with nature.

Our leaders must realize that reopening summer camps has the potential to directly mitigate the most harmful effects of the pandemic on the health and wellbeing of our young people. However, it is imperative that the opening of overnight camps be conducted in a safe manner, taking into account all associated risks.

Fortunately, the epidemiological situation will evolve in the coming months towards a potentially more favourable context. The progression of vaccination of vulnerable people, combined with a predicted decrease in new cases during the summer period, are both positive factors. We also know that the virus causes minimal medical complications in children and young adults.

Moreover, a study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) among overnight camps who opened during the summer of 2020, gives us hope. The study findings showed that it is entirely possible to provide a safe camp environment when rigorous risk mitigation strategies are in place.

However, developing these measures is a complex process. They must be designed to prevent the introduction of the virus into the camps and to minimize the risk of internal outbreaks. It is therefore urgent that the Quebec government follow Ontario's lead and clarify its intentions in order to give the camps the time they need to develop their sanitary protocols, redesign their facilities and train their staff.

After 12 months of the pandemic, we believe it is our duty as a society to offer our youth the summer they deserve, far from the anguish of the health crisis.

Dr. Earl Rubin is the division director of pediatric infectious diseases at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, part of the MUHC and Dr. Marc Lebel is president of the Association des Pédiatres du Québec

More than 80 experts co-signed this open letter. They include:

Pierre Lavoie

Co-founder, Grand défi Pierre-Lavoie


Dr. Gilles Julien

Social pediatrician, President of the Dr. Julien Foundation


Dr. Marie-Claude Roy

Director, pediatric clinic, CHU-Sherbrooke


Dr. Suzanne Vaillancourt

Assistant director, pediatric emergency medicine, Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Martin Gignac

Head of Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Montreal Children's Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Jean-Sébastien Tremblay-Roy

Intensivist pediatrician


Katherine Frohlich, Ph. D.

Professor, École de santé publique de l’Université de Montréal


Marie-Eve Mathieu, Ph. D.

Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, Researcher at CHU Ste-Justine, Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Childhood Obesity


Kevin L’Espérance, M.Sc.

Epidemiologist, biochemist and doctoral researcher in public health and epidemiology at the CR-CHUM


Dr. Marcia Antunes

The Children’s Clinic


Dr. Ilana Bank

Associate professor, pediatric emergency physician, McGill University


Dr. Geneviève Beaulieu



Nicholas Boucher, M.D.

Resident in Psychiatry, University of Ottawa


Dr. Isabelle Bouchard

Pediatrician, medical director, Camp diabétique de l’est du Québec (CEDEC)


Dr. Josée Brossard

Pediatric hemato-oncologist


Dr. Shirley Blaichman

Community Based Pediatrician


Dr. Benjamin Burko

Pediatrician, Assistant Professor, McGill University, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Elaine Champagne

Community-based pediatrician


Dr. Frédéric Dallaire

Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Université de Sherbrooke


Dr. Adrian B. Dancea

Pediatric cardiologist, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Victor De Broux-Leduc, M.D.

Resident in Family medicine, Université de Montréal


Dr. Natacha Deleva

Child psychiatrist, McGill University


Dr. Julie Déry

Radiologist, CHU Sainte-Justine


Dr. Dubravka Diksic

Pediatric emergency physician


Dr. Geoffrey Dougherty



Dr. Josée Dubois

Intervention radiologist


Emmanuel Fortier M.D.

Doctoral student in biomedical sciences and resident physician in psychiatry, Université de Montréal


Dr. Bethany Foster

Professor, pediatrician, director of the nephrology division of the Montreal Children's Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Chantal Frigon

Director of the Acute Pain Service, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Juliette Garel

Radiologist, CHU Sainte-Justine


Dr. Anna Gomez-Carrillo



Dr. Ilana Greenstone

Pediatric emergency physician


Fanny Grenier

Doctor of Psychology of Childhood Social Development


Dr. Anne-Marie Gosselin

Emergency pediatrician, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Annie Janvier

Pediatrician, clinical ethicist, researcher, CHU Sainte-Justine


Dr. Dyan Kimia



Dr. Lianne Kopel

Assistant professor, division of pediatric respiratory medicine, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Preetha Krishnamoorthy

Pediatric endocrinologist at the Montreal Children's Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Andrew Kujavsky

Family physician


Dr. Robin Kugelmass



Dr. Audrey Lafontaine

Pediatrician, Complex Care Department, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Yves Langlois

Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, McGill University


Edera Lancione

B.Sc. Kinesiology, physical trainer for youth athletes


Dr. Chantale Lapierre

Head of the Department of Medical Imaging, CHU Sainte-Justine


Dr. Anie Lapointe



Philippe Laramée, M.D.

Resident in emergency medicine, University of Montreal


Dr. Denis Leduc

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, McGill University


Dr. Marie-Astrid Lefebvre

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Infection Control and Prevention, McGill University


Dr. Laurent Legault

Head of Department, Pediatric Endocrinology, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Geneviève Legault

Pediatric neurologist


Dr. Chantal Lemire

Allergist immunologist


Dr. Patricia Li

Pediatrician, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Francis Livernoche



Dr. Elaine Medoff

Pediatric Allergist, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Marie-Claude Miron

Radiologist, CHU Sainte-Justine


Dr. Ahmed Moussa

Pediatrician neonatologist


Dre Lamia Naccache

Hematologic-oncology pediatrician


Dr. Aisling O’Gorman

Pediatrician, The Montreal Children’s Hospital


Dr. Caroline Ouellet

Emergency pediatrician, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Jesse Papenburg

Pediatric infectious disease microbiologist and epidemiologist, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Catherine Paquet

Pediatrician anesthetist


Dr. Géraldine Pettersen

Pediatrician, CHU Sainte-Justine


Dr. Nicole Pigeon



Dr. Laurie Plotnick

Division Director, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Yasmine Ratnani



Dr. Brent Richards

Professor of Medicine, McGill University


Dr. Anne Marie Sbrocchi

Director, Pediatric Day Hospital Services, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Vicki Scholten

Pediatrician, CH LaSalle


Dr. Jade Séguin

Pediatric emergency physician, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Nora Setton

Pediatrician, professor, Université de Montréal


Dr. Richard Sheppard

Cardiologist, medical director of the intensive care unit of the Jewish General Hospital


Dr. Sam D. Shemie

Professor of Pediatrics, McGill University


Dr. Dori Shiff

Director of Family Medicine Obstetrics Group, Jewish General Hospital


Dr. Karen Sigman

Pediatric allergist immunologist, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Terry Sigman

Director, Division of Gastroenterology and Pediatric Nutrition, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Judith Simoneau-Roy

Pediatric endocrinologist


Dr. Julie St-Pierre

Director of Clinique 180 de Montréal, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, McGill University, Pediatrician, MUHC


Dre Gabrielle St-Maurice



Philippe Sylvestre, M.D.

Pediatric resident, University of Montreal


Tina Tran,

M. Sc., Kinesiologist, physical literacy consultant, YMCA of Quebec


Maxime Ulrich M.D.,

Resident in pediatrics, University of Sherbrooke


Patricia Vandecruys



Dr. Julia von Oettingen

Pediatric endocrinologist, director of the pediatric diabetes clinic at The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Jessica Yeates



Dr. Samara Zavalkoff

Pediatrician in intensive care, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. David Zielinski

Director of the Pediatric Asthma Clinic, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, MUHC


Dr. Betty Zylbergold

Community pediatrician