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Woolwich seeing large demand for summer day camp programs

With day camps likely a go this summer, Woolwich is already seeing a large increase in registration numbers.

Even before the season begins – and before operating details are clear – the township has more than 500 children registered, double the 243 who took part last year.

The green light from the province last week was welcome news for recreation manager Jennifer Horndl.

“We had been planning on running summer camps this summer, and with the announcement last week, we have found out that they are able to run based on guidance from the chief medical officer,” she said.

“So, what exactly camp is going to look like? We don’t know yet. We have all of our safety protocols kind of ready to go from last year, but we’re waiting. The chief medical officer’s office releases guidelines for summer camps every week for COVID, and the updated ones aren’t available yet. We are anticipating probably not having to change too much because I think we were we ran a pretty safe operation last year.”

Woolwich has been working with other municipalities in the region to present coordinate protocols for activities such as day camps, Horndl noted.

“Children, if they move from Waterloo to a camp here in village or to camp in Kitchener, they’re experiencing the same screening process, the same cohort and process and things like that.”

The township will again be offering day camp programs at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira and the Breslau Community Centre.

“We are sitting right now I believe, between 65 and 70 per cent capacity, with most weeks registered already.  So it looks like parents are looking forward to getting their kids back into kind of a normal summer recreation program.”

Horndl attributes the high registration numbers to parents getting more comfortable with public health measures and the need to keep children out and active.

“I think people are feeling a little bit safer knowing that the kids are coming to a safe environment. We did a really great job – our staff did an amazing job last year, they kept the kids safe, but also had a lot of fun.

“There was a lot of apprehension about COVID last year – people just weren’t sure what to expect. So, I think people are feeling a little bit more comfortable and I know with the vaccine rates and things going and all of the personal protective equipment and protocols in place the kids have been in and out of school. And I just think parents are feeling better comfort level with it. And we do try to keep the kids outside as much as possible,” said Horndl, noting that the inside facility can help facilitate social distancing between camp cohorts on rainy or too hot days.

Although the exact format of camp is up in the air, Horndl said the focus will be on a fun, safe program.

“We are going to be running a very safe, but also a very fun experience for our campers this summer. We have most of our staff from last year returning. And you know if there’s any concerns at all, parents are welcome to call staff and we will help put any apprehension to rest,” she said.

It’s not quite summer camp time, but Wellesley this week opened its splash pad, which will operate daily between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Woolwich is still deciding on an opening date for its facility in Elmira. [Alex Filipe]

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