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Onondaga Camp

Summer 2021 Update

Letter from Director, Duncan Robertson

May 13, 2021

Dear Onondaga Camp Families,

We hope that you and your family are well.

The health and safety of our campers, LITs and staff has always been our greatest priority. We are now only a few short weeks away from what would normally be the start of our 104th season.  We are also at a critical time during this pandemic, and more than ever must depend on a shared commitment to practicing social responsibility in order to get this virus under control.  This global pandemic has affected all of us – our families, our businesses, our communities, and our way of life. We have learned what it requires of us, the sacrifices that are needed for the greater good – and it is difficult for everyone.

Given the current landscape and the uncertainty we still find ourselves in today, it is with the heaviest of hearts that I am writing to let you know that we have decided at the present time, that the only potential option for us to operate this year, is at a greatly reduced capacity, for a single four-week session and only during the month of August.  Registration will be limited to all current July and August campers born in 2006, 2007 and 2008, as well as to those in our Leadership Programs (those born in 2004 and 2005).

With Ontario’s current COVID-19 numbers such as they are, our move to cancel July programming and offer an August only program was done in order to leave more time between now and the start of camp – for COVID-19 cases to decrease, for more people to be vaccinated (possibly even campers, LITs and staff), and for guidance from the provincial government on the reopening of camps. Our hope is that by running only one 4 week session with decreased numbers, movement in and out of camp will be limited, thus reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission at camp and hopefully enabling us to open and stay open safely.

I understand that this news will be enormously upsetting for those of our campers we are no longer able to accommodate.  Please know that we understand how disappointing this will be for all of you.  In the end, we feel that these program modifications are our best hope of not only being able to operate, but of ensuring the safety of our campers, LITs and staff.

I must reiterate that there remains great uncertainty on whether camps will even be allowed to open this summer and therefore if our August program, outlined above, will even be possible.  The state of the pandemic in Ontario remains very serious, as seen by the high case counts, the high infection rates, schools being closed, the incredible strain that has been put on our healthcare system, and the presence of the new and more dangerous Covid-19 variants that seem to be infecting more young people than previously.

In addition, overnight summer camps were closed last year by provincial legislation and still remain closed at this time. In order to be allowed to reopen, the province must reverse this legislation and place overnight camps into the provincial framework for reopening.  It is unclear as to if and when this might happen and where in the framework camps might be placed.  Accordingly, there remains uncertainty if our plan for the August only session will be possible.

Onondaga Camp will be refunding families 100% of all fees paid (including deposits), for those campers who we are no longer able to accommodate, or for those who wish to cancel their registration.  An email specific to your family’s fees and refund amount will follow in the coming days.

For those families who have a camper eligible for registration in our modified 2021 camp season, you will receive more information on the program and registration details shortly.

Thank you to everyone who has continued to show us loyalty and support over this past year, and all while you and your family were facing pandemic related hardships of your own.  We are overwhelmed by the unquestionable strength and character of our community.  As our motto says, we strive always, to ‘Carry On.’  The coming weeks are likely to bring new and unpredictable challenges.  Keep each other close despite the extraordinary distance – we will continue to move through this historic challenge together.

Please know that Onondaga Camp will be here next year. We truly hope that ALL of you will be here with us too.

Take good care,

Duncan Robertson