Dear Walden Parents,
It’s been almost a month since we last wrote to you and we felt it was time to check in again.
We hope that you and your family have remained safe and healthy. We are with you in this experience and thinking about you throughout.
These uncertain times are remarkably anxiety provoking (like how the kids might feel on the night before canoe trip). But like on those trips, it will be patience, calm, support for one another, and mutual trust that will guide us. In short, let’s try to navigate this together.
We also want to say thank you. Thank you to you and to your kids for the kind notes, hopeful posts, and general love for camp that is being expressed in a variety of communications every day.
In those communications you’ve asked some good questions. While we can’t yet provide you with definitive answers, we hope we can provide you with some comfort and let you in on what we are thinking. As is always the case, we are eager to speak to any of you who have questions or who require any special consideration.
You’ve told us that your kids are begging us to have camp this summer! That they yearn for real life social interactions, hugs from their friends, and wide open natural spaces. Please tell them that the four of us are working hard alongside our colleagues in our industry (yes, even our intercamp rivals) to do whatever we can to bring a Canadian Summer Camp experience to our kids when it is safe and appropriate to do so.
Without question, it would not be safe for us to open camp tomorrow. But there is still reason to remain hopeful. It’s been about a month since this all started in Canada and camp is still more than two months away. The Ontario Camps Association has a direct line to Ontario Public Health, and the Federal Ministry of Immigration. No one knows with any certainty what the summer will bring. Some experts will say there is a 5% chance, others a 50% chance. To us, these numbers really don’t matter. If there is to be any chance, we have to keep hoping and more importantly planning for the summer ahead.
Our 50-year history is built on our commitment to the safety of each camper and staff member. If we are permitted by you and public authorities to take on the challenge of keeping campers safe at camp, then we will exhaust all efforts and resources to understand and implement the very best health and safety practices required. Rest assured that as soon as we have more direction on whether camp is allowed to operate, we will share our approach with you for keeping camp safe for everyone. No industry is more poised to be flexible about its model than camping. Trust that if you’ve thought about a particular scenario, so have we. Maybe camp will need to start later or be shorter, have no out-trips or have more medical screening. If we are given the word, we can open with 2 weeks notice. It wouldn’t be as pretty as we’ve grown accustomed to… the grass might not be fully cut… but it would be safe. Without time to inspect it, there might not be a climbing wall this summer. You might have to drive your kids up. But we would have food, and fun, and showers, and toilets, and fields and campfires and music and swim. The heart of what “Walden Is” will be preserved… Everything would be different, but everything would be the same.
Well, firstly, the decision is not just ours. We are currently closed by Public Health until we are officially reopened. As soon as we know anything, we will tell you. But we won’t totally give up hope for some version of camp until July. We promise to send updates at least every few weeks.
While we hope otherwise, camp’s closure is also on the list of scenarios that we must plan for. Please trust that we would handle closure in the same way we handle camp: with honesty and transparency. We are developing a more detailed communication about this scenario which will be sent in mid-May. But you can count on it including the following principles:
We desperately want the world to heal… for this virus to pass… for us all to be well… to be truly together again.
Sol & Jen and Howie & Sari