A shadow over holiday camps

A shadow over holiday camps

Vanessa Giguère does not take off. She had to pick up her two children from summer camp on Monday morning, where they were to spend the week. “We have been living with COVID-19 for two and a half years. I can’t believe they haven’t developed a contingency plan to avoid a full shutdown in the event of an outbreak. »

Posted at 5:00 am


Elise Fiola

Elise Fiola The press

This mother is not the only parent in this situation. In a single week, three camps had to send their youth home as a precaution, the Association des camps du Québec (ACQ) confirmed.

Faced with an increase in COVID-19 cases, the La Grande Aventure en Anglais camp has been forced to suspend its activities.

“My children have been waiting for several months to go there,” says Vanessa Giguère. We are extremely disappointed. When the children were brought in, they spent five minutes checking everyone’s hair to make sure none of them had lice. I think they could have taken the time to test everyone quickly and another 48 hours later to make sure no one was carrying the virus. »

Patricia Dumont and Hélène Dufour, two mothers who had also traveled to Saint-Donat to pick up their children, were disappointed. However, they agreed with the company’s actions, which specifically urged parents to provide masks to campers.

“I don’t see a failure there given the kind of measures that are currently in place in society,” comments Hélène Dufour.

Variable preventive measures

As of May 3rd, holiday camps are no longer subject to health measures. They are asked to follow the recommendations of the ACQ in agreement with Public Health, taking into account their environment, their activities and their clientele, explains Valérie Desrosiers, communications coordinator of the Association des camps du Québec.

“We are noticing an increase in COVID-19 cases in the camps, but we are experiencing the same situation in the general population,” she said in an interview with La Presse.

“I don’t think The Great Adventure in English, or any other camp that has had to close, hasn’t addressed the special risk situation,” she said.

COVID-19 appears to be a very egalitarian lottery that can potentially fall on everyone.

Valérie Desrosiers, Communications Coordinator of the Association des camps du Québec

The management of the English learning camp did not want to answer our questions.

According to other ACQ member camps, the number of cases of infection among monitors would be higher than among campers. But given the shortage of workers, it is becoming difficult for the camps to provide this service, notes Valérie Desrosiers.

“At the moment we only have isolated cases, so we are relatively spared,” says Thomas Lepage-Gouin, general manager of the Le Manoir camp and chairman of the ACQ board. “The possibility of a closure is a risk that we must manage. We are not immune to anything, but we are putting every opportunity on our side so that it works and we can offer our services throughout the summer. »

The impact on children

Since the beginning of the summer, numerous cases of COVID-19 have upset the plans not only of campers but also of staff, reports Gabriel Bigaouette, general manager of Camps Odyssée. “It’s starting to get pretty worrying. »

Mr Bigaouette recalled the impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health and the importance of camps for their development. For him, it’s “heartbreaking” to bring a youth home, lose a monitor, cancel activities or close camp entirely.

“We just feel like kids are still paying the price, a lot more than the rest of society,” he says.

Young Alexis’ mother, Patricia Dumont, wasn’t particularly surprised by the announcement of Camp La Grande Aventure en Anglais: “It’s like a habit. Disappointments like this have happened to us every day since the beginning of COVID-19. »

Her 9-year-old son still fondly remembers his only week at the camp. “Although it’s disappointing to lose my friends so early, I really had a great experience there,” said the boy.