BY HILARY HILTON
Summer camps are a pastime many know and love and though they have been non-existent for the past two years, this widely cherished tradition is back.
Despite the unfortunate changes and hardships the Covid-19 pandemic has caused, local Muskoka camps such as Camp Mini-Yo-We have persevered and are ready to return to regular programming for the 2022 season.
Camp Mini-Yo-We is a youth leadership development organization in its 76th year of operation and executive director Rich Birch says that its mission is to “develop tomorrow’s leaders through life-changing adventures.”
COVID-19 restrictions did not allow overnight camps to run for the past two summers, but many local camps came up with alternatives for the use of their facilities for the summer of 2021.
Camp Mini-Yo-We offered family day camp programming in smaller numbers.
Birch says Camp Mini-Yo-We anticipates around 2,000 campers for the whole summer—around 400 per week—which is slightly lower than their usual 2,500 camper average.
“We’re down some, but not dramatically,” Birch says. “It’s still a big summer, and for most of our kids it’ll feel like everything’s back to normal.”
As with many summer camps, staffing has been Camp Mini-Yo-We’s greatest challenge this year. The camps have had difficulty finding an adequate amount of qualified staff members and have had limited time and resources for training. Birch says that Camp Mini-Yo-We also spent a great deal of effort on staffing this year, and had fewer previous staff return for this season. “We knew that there was going to be a problem getting staff to come back,” he says. “A lot of
other camps are reporting 30 to 40 per cent less staff coming back. We’re nowhere near that; I’m actually super proud of the level of staff that we have acquired, but we did spend more time, effort, and energy on that over this last year.”
Birch says there remains some hesitancy among parents of campers, particularly the five to ten age group, and staff have some concerns about returning to normal camp operations. Despite all of this, spirits are high overall and the excitement has prevailed over the nerves.
“We are really excited and fired up to be running camp again,” Birch says. “Obviously, there is a certain amount of jitters, but that’s to be expected. So much of what we do is passed down from one generation to the next and we’ve had two years without any kids here. But I would say overall, we’re excited.”
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!