Quebec's summer camps will be allowed to welcome little campers
MONTREAL -- Summer camps will be able to open this summer and welcome little campers throughout Quebec.
The Association des camps du QuEbec (ACQ) said it learned Thursday night that sleepaway camps have been given the green light by public health for the summer of 2021.
"There is a lot of joy. There are camps that are very happy because they were waiting impatiently to be able to announce to their clientele that they were going to start operations,'' Éric Beauchemin, the executive director of the ACQ, said.
A complete protocol will soon be unveiled by health authorities to ensure the safety of all during this pandemic period. It will be applied in all camps that decide to open their doors for the 2021 summer season.
Because not all camps will be able to welcome children this summer, the ACQ had indicated this week that about a third had probably already given up plans to reopen. For them, it was too late to organize everything in time for the end of June.
As for the day camps, they had already been authorized.
According to the scenarios discussed, but not yet finalized, several measures will be put in place: a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival at the camp will be requested for the camper and another quick test will be done a few days later. There will be a form of isolation of the youth before his or her arrival in the wilderness, Beauchemin said.
A sort of "moral contract" will be made with the parents to ensure that their child does not take part in large gatherings before the camp begins.
"A series of measures will be put in place so that we have an omnipresent safety net throughout the participant's journey in order to minimize the risk of COVID-19," said the director general.
On Thursday, Quebec added day and summer camp counsellors to the list of essential workers in high-risk outbreak settings, allowing them to be vaccinated against COVID-19 more quickly. They can reserve a time slot starting Friday, even for those under 18 years of age.
However, they must make an appointment at a mass vaccination centre.
As for campers aged 12 to 17, they will already have received a dose of vaccine by the end of June, before the opening of the camps, Quebec's health minister announced Thursday.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE REQUESTED
The ACQ said that the camps need financial assistance estimated at $10 million, particularly considering the increased expenses for the health protocols.
Of this amount, $4 million would be paid to the day camps, so that they can operate "with the same sanitary measures as last year," in addition to allowing them to welcome more young people and to make up for the 37 per cent drop in attendance recorded in 2020.
This includes the purchase of protective equipment, such as face masks, and sometimes tent rentals to maximize outdoor activities and even additional space.
The other $6 million requested would allow summer camps to fund the implementation of the health protocols and provide support in the event of a temporary closure during the summer. For those summer camps that could not reopen despite the lifting of the decree, the funding would be used to offset their fixed costs to survive the crisis, as was the case in 2020.
The Minister of Education, Isabelle Charest, gave encouraging signs this week, Beauchemin said, noting that she was in favour of financial assistance, although it has not yet been confirmed or quantified.
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2021.