St. Clair Township cancels summer day camps and ice time

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Alex Kurial
Local Journalism Initiative

School’s out for summer, and so are day camps at the Mooretown Sports Complex after St. Clair council decided they would not be opening them in any capacity this year.

“It’s a hard thing to do because I know there’s a lot of families in need of daycare services. But for us in the township, I think it’s the right approach for this year. It’s unfortunate,” Councillor Pat Brown said during the council meeting on June 1. 

Following the province’s announcement last month that summer day camps would be allowed to operate this year – with increased restrictions and social distancing measures – municipalities were given the choice whether to open such camps.

In making its decision St. Clair’s community services department came up with three possible scenarios – a combined junior and senior camp, separate junior and senior camps, and outright cancellation.  

In their reasoning, community services pointed out that the usual amenities offered to children would not be available, such as the swimming pool and playground equipment.
Groups would have been limited to eight kids and two staff, with constant cleaning and monitoring required to ensure safety measures were observed. There was a concern that restrictions would have made activities neither challenging nor engaging, perhaps damaging the reputation of the camps. 

“Our campers are the voice of our camp and if we are unable to provide a fun, safe experience for them this summer they will not want to come back in the years to come; with our lack of amenities that our facility has in plain view but are unable to utilize I fear the children will not understand why they are not able to use them as they once were able to do,” Michelle Rottier, coordinator of community programs, said. 

Deputy Mayor Steve Miller cited the provincial government’s own decision on school as good reason to keep day camps closed. “If the provincial government doesn’t see fit to open schools, why would we bring all these young people together and take a chance on an outbreak when it appears that some of the reactions with children are very severe. I think the people have decided the right thing here not to open,” says Miller.

Mayor Steve Arnold agreed, saying the decision was not taken lightly. “Staff has really wrestled with this, and it’s been a heart-wrenching thing for them as well. They love the kids and love to see them, and tried to figure out a way to do it safely. It just appeared there was no safe way to look after those children in any type of a practical way whatsoever. It’s sad,” Arnold said.

The Mooretown Sports Complex will also be cancelling their annual summer ice activity.