COVID-19 Resources

The OCA is following Public Health guidelines and direction as we plan for the 2020 Summer Camp season.

The OCA Board has struck a COVID-19 Task Force, for the foreseeable future, to share the most up to date information and resources on COVID-19. Task Force members include OCA Board member and Health Committee Liaison Bev Unger, Health Committee Co-Chairs Michelle Colomvakos and Nancy Vandenbergh, consultant Thomas Appleyard (co-author of Ontario’s pandemic plan), OCA Vice President Mark Diamond, OCA Executive Director Joy Levy, and OCA President Jeff Bradshaw. The COVID-19 Task Force will be providing weekly updates to OCA Members via the OCA Weekly.

Resources:

Ontario Camps Association

Public Health Agency of Canada

Public Health Ontario

Government of Ontario

Ontario Medical Association

Health Canada

World Health Organization

Prevention

Mental Health

Self-Assessment and Self Isolation

Fundraising

Specific to Non-Profits

Consult with a Doctor

Ontario Camps Association Members

Go Camp Pro

OCA Member and owner of Go Camp Pro Travis Allison has created an online community on Slack and MEGADoc for COVID-19 discussion with resources, including what other camps and outdoor centres are using for messaging, and much more. We encourage you to take a visit the below links:

Camp Is On No Matter What. Tell Everyone Today!!!

by Eric Shendelman, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

To all camp owners, directors, programmers and administrators:

Does anyone think that you honestly believe camp is not happening this summer? Well you all need to start thinking differently from today onward. For those naysayers you need to start thinking like camp people think. This may turn out to be the longest ‘Rainy Day Program’ you have ever planned but you’ll plan it nonetheless. Let me explain further. This came to me this morning as we prepared to send out a note to camp families regarding summer 2020 at the day camp I work with. The thought of telling campers and parents that there may or may not be camp this summer with 3 months to go did not sit well with me. I thought Really? Seriously? I said, “NO this is Not going to happen today my friends. NOT TODAY and NOT EVER!!”

I have been to camp in some capacity over the last 49 years consecutively (I am almost 52) and I am not willing to accept the idea that I won’t be there this summer. Some may say, “what do you mean by camp is on no matter what?” Very simple (sort of).

It is March 23, 2020 and most kids will be working from home today in an e-learning environment. Sounds awesome!! I wish all of the students and educators out there the very best in the coming weeks as we all ‘settle’ in to our home environments. We are all hoping that some good will come out of this. Covid 19 numbers are growing, we all have questions about our future, our finances, our families and our friends. We need some good news today.

Camp does that!!!! Let me digress a touch. In 1992, I was the Program Director at Camp Winnebagoe in Hunstville, Ontario Canada. It rained for the first 3 weeks of camp that summer as some of you may remember. I was responsible for fun and special programs at camp. How does one do that in the rain? When I say rain, I am not talking about rain for a little bit each day, I am talking about hard rain all day, every day for 3 weeks – STRAIGHT!! With no relief in sight, a creative team of people with me and a bunch of time, we came up with the most creative, indoor and fun programs we could possibly come up with. It didn’t matter how silly or different the ideas were, everything was a possibility. In fact, when the rain stopped on that fateful day in late July 1992 and the sun started shining, the camp administrators were shocked to find out that campers wanted to extend their time through August.

At the end of that summer, I remember telling the camp director, “Hey I had a great time, I love you but I am DONE!!” It almost killed me but it got done. The key is it GOT DONE!! It always gets done no matter what. For those that have been in the industry for many years, you clearly understand what I am talking about. We have weathered many ‘storms’ over the years and we will weather this one. No matter what you are reading, what you are listening to or talking about on Facebook Live or Zoom or whatever social media outlet you are using, It is the right time to start telling your creative team to get to work like Santa’s little helpers. We need camp this year, campers and parents need camp this year and you all have it in you to plan it NOW. Plan as if there will be no camp outside this summer. If we are fortunate to go back to our sites and be outside interacting with friends and breathing in that amazing summer air, we can use all of our innovative, new and creative plans for a rainy day. We can share ideas with our colleagues locally, nationally or even globally. The most creative camp minds can unite and share the burden of planning so all camps can benefit. This could be the biggest and best online conference we have ever had. I know this sounds crazy, but I say we go for it. I say we update our families that have registered and tell them that we are in the process of planning the best summer ever ‘rain or shine’.

Do you see where I am going with this. We are CAMP people. We are part of an amazing creative group wondering what to do. You should only be thinking one way right now. This is the time to get even more creative. In 1992, if I was given a 3-month head start on something different, on something unexpected, the possibilities would have been endless.

Now is the time. Now we create stuff that has never been created. If I were to start right now, I’d create 39 days of camp in a box. Will they be delivered to every camper’s house? Will lunch be included? Yes, there are many other challenges and questions that will come up (too many to list here) but you and your team will figure it out. Why? Cause you always have. If you are a new camp and this is your inaugural summer – well lean on those that can help. Everything is on the table!!!

Covid 19 won’t take camp away from us, our families and our friends. Let parents know today that CAMP IS ON NO MATTER WHAT? The ‘WHAT’ might be so awesome you’ll be talking about summer 2020 for years to come.

Have fun, play safe, stay home and enjoy every camp day

Shendy (AKA Eric Shendelman)

Eric Shendelman is a Director at Crestwood Valley Day Camp in Toronto, Ontario Canada, owner of Shendy’s Swim School Inc. and Past President of the Ontario Camps Association.