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***Please note…this will be updated for Summer 2022, no later than April 13th***

With the information we currently have, our Director Team has created our proposed 2021 COVID-19 Safety Plan. The plan covers all aspects of camp-life and it includes the protocols and procedures we will implement to provide the safest experience possible. Through a question and answer format below, we have focused on the key elements of our plan. As always, if you have additional questions, please feel free to connect with us. Please note, this is a living document and is subject to change as new guidance and regulations are set by government and local Public Health officials.

List of questions:

1. What organizations are you working with to make this summer as safe as possible?
The Wahanowin COVID Committee – tell us more about that.
3. What have you done to make the camp environment COVID-Safe?
4. What can we do before camp starts to ensure the safety of our kids this summer?
5. Do I need to pack anything differently for my child?
6. Will there be busing to and from camp?
What are your testing protocols? Will there be an additional cost for this?
8. We’ve heard a lot about a camp “bubble,” what does this mean?
9. What will happen if a child/staff or my child tests positive for COVID-19 at camp?
10. My son/daughter has a sibling and/or friend in another unit or cabin. Can they hang out?
11. Will everyone be able to eat together this summer in the Dining Hall?
12. Will there be camp-wide programs?
13. Will there be any excursions out of camp this summer?
14. Will my child have to wear a mask?
15. Will there be Visitor’s Day?
16. Have there been any changes to your payment and/or refund policy?
17. How will you be supporting not only the physical health, but the mental health of both campers and staff?
18. My camper(s) are coming to camp from outside of Canada. How is that going to work?
19. When exactly will camp be allowed to open? We are confused.  


1. What organizations are you working with to make this summer as safe as possible?

Planning for Summer 2021 essentially began in May 2020, when the government made the decision to close Overnight Camps. A group of camps in Maine ran very successfully last summer and the American Camping Association (ACA) has captured their success in studies that have been released to us here in Canada and around the world. The ACA has taken the “Maine Overnight Camp Model” and developed a Field Guide to assist in Summer 2021 planning. We are fortunate to have spoken with directors and parents from these camps about their experience as we identified a number of key features to assist with our operations this summer. In a direct response to the success south of the border, the Ontario Camps Association developed a COVID-19 Task Force to spearhead the #planforcamp in 2021. They have made tremendous headway in speaking with the government and the Office of the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health. They have been transparent with us and as a result of our membership with the OCA we have been included in many town halls and conferences to provide guidance on our procedures and protocols for Summer 2021. 

The OCA COVID-19 Task Force has been in direct communication with Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto to draft a guidance document that is currently being reviewed by Public Health and will be the key document that we will be required to adhere to this summer. We have received a draft of this document and have been planning accordingly with the support of the ACA Field Guide. With everything, our plan will continually evolve as the current state of the pandemic changes here in Ontario.  

2. The Wahanowin COVID Committee – tell us more about that.

All organizations have had to designate a leader(s) to spearhead their COVID-19 response. At Wahanowin, that is Elijah and Tia. It’s going to feel like we are on a rollercoaster until July 2nd. The uncertainty is VERY hard for everyone, but we remain optimistic and #planforcamp. To ensure a successful and safe summer, all COVID plans have been developed in collaboration with our Health Centre Team. We are fortunate to have Jordan Feld, who has been in the throws of COVID-19 research trials in releasing an antiviral medication to relieve the symptoms of the virus. In turn, Jordan has been at the forefront of research involving the efficacy of the many COVID-19 testing protocols that exist today. Given that testing is going to be a key component to safe overnight camp operation in 2021, Jordan has been an instrumental member of our Waha team. Mara Cole has been a Wahanowin camper, staff and now a member of our Dr. team. Protocols and policies are only as good as your knowledge of camp and how they operate in real time. Mara has been able to combine her expertise, knowledge and skills as a pediatrician to create a safe and healthy environment while helping us to maintain the magic of camp.  Wahanowin is in good hands!

3. What have you done to make the camp environment COVID-Safe?

When we started learning about the elements that were critical to ensuring a safe summer at Wahanowin, we were pleasantly surprised that Wahanowin ticked the boxes of several recommended alterations to making camp safe. Picture our beautiful large cabins which have spaced out bunk beds as well as showers and washrooms inside the cabins. In a year when everyone has been asked to keep their distance, this is so easy to do at Wahanowin! We have endless space for tents, outdoor activities and options for reimagining our plays and services outdoors! Our maintenance team is already hard at work installing screen doors on every cabin to enhance ventilation and handwashing stations around camp for proper hygiene. Water fountains are being replaced with foot pedaled water bottle filling stations. We also have enough hand sanitizer to fill every boat in camp! (and that’s a lot of boats!) Needless to say, we are committed to making all the necessary changes and alterations in accordance with the most up to date Ministry of Health COVID-19 Guidance for Overnight Camps. We also have an internal COVID-19 Safety Plan that covers everything from food service to hygiene to cleaning and disinfection that we are using to guide all of our practices.  

4. What can we do before camp starts to ensure the safety of our kids this summer?

As members of the Wahanowin community, we each play an important role as we plan our return to camp this summer. While COVID-19 continues to impact the world, each of us has a responsibility to do our part in keeping ourselves and our community safe and healthy…and we cannot do this without your support! This summer, we are asking our Wahanowin families and staff to enter a COVID Community Commitment. You will be asked to:

  • Value the health of others as much as you value your own and understand that the risks you take not only impact yourself but the entire Wahanowin community.
  • Keep yourself and your family as healthy and safe as possible for the 14 days leading up to camp. This entails monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms and limiting your exposure to the greater community as much as possible. If interaction with the larger community is needed, you will wear a mask, use hand sanitizer, wash your hands frequently and practice social distancing.
  • Practice respect by adhering to and supporting Wahanowin’s COVID-19 Safety Plan including, but not limited to, taking part in all testing protocols and screening, monitoring honestly for symptoms and committing to daily COVID-19 safety requirements.  
  • Be adaptable and understanding when unforeseen necessary adjustments and changes need to be made. 

These actions, if followed by our community, will have a measurable impact on our collective health and safety prior to and during camp. While we cannot change the virus, we must continue to change our behaviors to decrease the chance of transmission and keep us all where we want to be…at camp for an epic Summer 2021!

Please note that if your child is symptomatic prior to their arrival to camp, they will need to be symptom-free for at least 24 hrs. and have a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 48 hrs upon arrival to camp.

5. Do I need to pack anything differently for my child?

Each summer we update and post our Wahanoguide for our families. This is our parent handbook. It gives you everything you need to know before sending your child(ren) to camp each summer. We have updated this guide to reflect the changes due to COVID-19. The packing list is included in this guide and reflects the changes necessary for 2021. 

6. Will there be busing to and from camp?

We are asking our parents to drive campers to camp in 2021 (not applicable to CITs) and we will offer busing home at the end of your camper(s) session. Parents will see a $100 credit on their June 1st statement for 1-way busing only ($50 credit for Wahano-Week campers). CITs will have regular, 2-way busing, and therefore no credit will be applied. Wahanowin is only 90 minutes from Toronto and our research shows that this extra layer of protection will only further mitigate the possible exposure to COVID-19 and ensure a safe and smooth arrival at camp. We encourage you to ensure you are available to drop-off your camper(s) on Friday, July 2nd since we will not be able to allow for car-pooling to camp due to cabin cohorting. A more detailed guide on our drop-off process for Summer 2021 will be communicated closer to the summer.

There will be busing from the airport for campers from outside of Canada. 

7. What are your testing protocols? Will there be an additional cost for this?

Every camper and staff who enters camp at the beginning of the summer will be tested at least 4-5 times. Wahanowin has partnered with a company to support us in testing our campers and staff. With the ongoing research and data that is being released on testing, we have considered all of our options and have made our final decision on which testing method we will use. Our approach is to use a combination of PCR and Rapid Antigen testing and camp is committed to supporting everyone in this process. Testing will occur as follows for both campers and staff and specifics around this and your arrival at camp will be provided in the coming weeks:

  1. Test #1 – 5 days prior to camp
  2. Test #2 – 24 hours prior to camp
  3. Test #3 – Upon arrival at camp (if needed)
  4. Test #4 – 5 days into camp

With the continued support of our Health Centre Team,  we will be set up on-site in our Health Centre to conduct testing (both rapid PCR and rapid antigen, BOTH with 15 min results!) as necessary throughout the summer. We will not need to transport campers and staff out of camp for testing. 

Wahanowin has already made significant financial commitments to ensuring that camp is COVID-Safe this summer, however, we ask that you share in the cost of the testing of your campers. Camp is covering the cost of testing for all our staff.

We have determined that the COVID-19 testing surcharge is $475/camper, plus tax.  If a camper needs additional testing throughout the summer, there will be an additional cost beyond the above surcharge to the family. 

The camp has the authority to administer a COVID-19 test for symptoms or screening at any point. If a child refuses to take a test, the camp will have no choice but to send that camper home. We know that “the hospital method” of COVID testing can be anxiety provoking, especially for young children. Therefore, we are looking into different options, including saliva testing. Every effort will be made to use the least invasive test possible. 

8. We’ve heard a lot about a camp “bubble,” what does this mean?

So many of you have said “Of course you can operate, you can just create a bubble and have nobody come in or out once camp starts.” One of the huge advantages to overnight camp is that we can create this bubble, however, a common misconception is that on day 1, everyone can just join this “Wahanowin bubble” and we can operate as ‘normal.’ This unfortunately is not 100% accurate. However, this is where we hope to get as Summer 2021 progresses. Here’s how we think our bubble can work right now:

  • Campers and Staff will begin camp in cabin cohorts (this could be one or two cabins depending on cabin size)
  •  Staff and campers will remain consistent in their cabin groups throughout camp ( switching)
  • Cohorts will be loosened upon the whole camp testing negative after 14 days into camp or otherwise stipulated by our local public health unit. It is at this point camp will hopefully be deemed as an ‘established cohort’ that is able to mix with other cohorts without distancing or masks
  • Movement in and out of camp will be limited. Deliveries will be contactless and outside the gate whenever possible
  • Staff days off will be in camp 

We know that limiting in and outs at camp is a critical piece to ensuring our ‘bubble’ is safe, however, we also recognize that over the course of a normal summer there are typically trips to the hospital, repairs for equipment and facilities etc. Rest assured we will maintain strict screening protocols for anyone coming into camp including, health screening, temp check and testing as necessary as well as social distancing and masking while in camp.   

9. What will happen if a child or my child tests positive for COVID-19?

This may mean one of three things:

a) Your child tested positive prior to arrival at camp – in this case your child will then be required to isolate for the isolation time mandated by public health before returning to camp and provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their arrival to camp. 

b) Your child tests positive at any time during camp – as always, we pride our Health Centre Team on their communication with families. You will be notified immediately if your child has tested positive and be asked to pick them up within 12 hrs. Upon testing positive, your child will be placed in one of our isolation cabins until you arrive to pick them up. If you are unable to pick them up, you will be required to send someone who can. You will be able to speak with your child on the phone if they have a positive test. If you are from outside of Canada, please stay tuned for more information on this policy. 

c) A child within my camper(s) cohort has tested positive – You will be notified immediately and in this case your child would be isolated with their cohort and our Health Centre Team may proceed to PCR test each camper upon advice from Public Health. We will have on-site PCR testing available with 15 minute results for these exact circumstances. If your camper then tests positive, please see ‘b’ above. Our doctors, nurses and staff will continue to monitor this cohort vigorously for symptoms.

As always, our response will be dictated by Public Health and we may need to change/adapt our approach as required.

We will make available spaces for campers who miss any of their sessions to return and complete it at a later time in the summer. 

This policy applies for staff as well. 

10. My son/daughter has a sibling and/or friend in another unit or cabin. Can they hang out?

Let’s face it – friendships and connections are what camp is all about. The easy answer: Yes! Hang out with your friends and your siblings in another unit as much as you want outdoors as long as you can socially distance! The hard part: if you want to get close, play tetherball, braid your friends hair…do it in a mask. We know it’s not a perfect scenario, but the more you are outdoors at camp, the less masking you will do!  So find a spot by the water, or on a porch and sit and chat with your friends. It won’t even feel that different! It will just be nice to be together.

11. Will everyone be able to eat together this summer in the Dining Hall?

The good news is where many camps have gone to a staggered meal schedule, Wahanowin has determined a way to have everyone eat at the same time. We have purchased a number of tents/canopies because it has become increasingly clear that we will need to split up the camp by having some units eating in the Dining Hall, while some units are outside. We know that part of being together in the Dining Hall is doing announcements and the blessing, so we will likely gather outdoors before and after the meal as an entire camp for the blessing/announcements. 

12. Will there be camp-wide programs?

Yes!! With everything COVID-related, there may be some modifications to make the programs COVID-Safe, however our programming team is already hard at work preparing for Olympiad, Carnival, Wahano-ween, Midnight Madness, Survivor, Socials, Services and a new and exciting Flagpole format!!

13. Will there be any excursions out of camp this summer?

We know how important excursions out of camp can be for our campers. Our youngest Units look forward to their “canoe trip” overnight out of camp at the beginning of the summer and we have created a space in camp that will allow for these campers to experience an overnight “out of camp.” We hope for our oldest campers that we can continue our traditional LTP and CIT Hiking Trips. However, excursions to 3rd party sites have been strongly discouraged by Public Health in 2021. We also won’t be offering our typical Canoe Trip schedule. 

14. Will my child have to wear a mask?

Our goal is to provide our campers and staff with as much of a normal camp experience as possible – while protecting the health and safety of all our campers and staff.  We know that wearing a mask is considered one of the most effective NPIs (non-pharmaceutical interventions) and has significantly reduced COVID-19 transmission in the community. Therefore, masking will be required at SOME points throughout the summer, specifically when social or physical distancing cannot occur between cohorts and children are required to be indoors with campers or staff beyond their cohort. We anticipate growing the cohort sizes as the summer progresses and creating an ‘established cohort’, as such, masking will be less of a requirement. We are asking all campers to bring 1 box of 50 ASTM 3-ply disposable masks with them to camp or if they are more comfortable with cloth masks, 20 cloth masks with a washable mesh bag. Campers staying the full summer or 6 weeks may consider bringing 2 boxes or more cloth masks. 

15. Will there be Visitor’s Day?

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel Visitor’s Day for Summer 2021, to maintain the camp bubble. Check out what we have planned for “Visitor’s Day 2021“. We know how important this day is for our families. Just because you can’t be at camp, doesn’t mean you can’t take part in the excitement!

16. Have there been any changes to your payment and/or refund policy?

Full balance of camp fees are due on June 1st.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Refunds are dependent on the time of your request and the program in which your child is enrolled. Please refer to the breakdown below:

Two Weeks Plus, July, July Plus, Full Season, CIT

  • Until November 15 – 100% refund
  • November 16-March 1 – $350.00 administration fee is charged
  • March 2-May 15 – $700.00 administration fee is charged
  • May 16-June 1 – $1,000.00 administration fee is charged


  • Until November 15 – 100% refund
  • November 16-March 1 – $100.00 administration fee is charged
  • March 2-May 15 – $150.00 administration fee is charged
  • May 16-June 1 – $200.00 administration fee is charged

In addition, we have implemented the following refund policy for Summer 2021 due to COVID-19:

Beginning June 2nd, 50% refund for cancellation of session, change of session or for campers leaving early during the camp season for reasons not related to COVID-19 (except breach of camp policy where there is no refund of fees).

If any camper tests positive on the pre-screening testing (either prior or on arrival at camp), they will be asked to remain at home for an isolation period as recommended by public health and be subject to the following refund policy:

WAHANO-WEEK and TWO WEEKS PLUS Campers: 50% of camp fees are forfeited for the time missed (these campers will likely miss all or the vast majority of their scheduled camp session).

FULL SEASON, JULY, JULY PLUS Campers and CITs: No refund of camp fees for time missed (these campers will likely miss less than half their scheduled camp session).

If any camper is sent home as a result of COVID-19, public health and/or government order, Wahanowin will equally split the time away from camp with our families. For example, if time away from camp is required for 14 days, the family will receive a refund for the 7 days away from camp.

Campers will also have the option to return to camp (pending public health guidelines) and extend their stay for the days missed in lieu of a refund OR use the entire time missed (up to a maximum of 14 days) as a credit towards their 2022 summer at Wahanowin.

17. How will you be supporting not only the physical health, but the mental health of both campers and staff?

Each summer the Director team is focused on the well-being, both emotionally and physically, of every camper and staff. As an added layer of support, for Summer 2021, Wahanowin is fortunate to have a Wahanowin alumni family that will be joining us with their kids (who will be campers!!) These parents have the expertise and background in mental health. They look forward to supporting us all summer long. In addition, we have altered our pre-camp sessions to include education and resources for our staff on this topic. 

We know that the pandemic has had a profound affect on the mental and physical health of our children. In a recent study coming out of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, it showed roughly 70% of children experienced deterioration of their mental health during the first lock down last spring. Another study showed that during the pandemic a significant proportion of kids have experienced increased depression, anxiety, irritability, and they’re just less able to buffer the day-to-day frustration necessary for their mental well-being. Layer that with decreased physical activity, online learning and increased screen time and we all know what that amounts to.

Children need to play. They need to be with their friends and be free to be kids. They need to be given time to process this past year in a healthy way without the pressure of being bogged down with what they have missed, not achieved at school, not learned or what they ‘should be doing’. This summer is all about healing. 

We are very hopeful that we will be able to welcome our staff and campers back this summer with open arms to meet them where they are, not where we think they should be. We want to create an environment that enables our community to experience joy, laughter and a glimpse of normalcy, where we can all just be. 

18. My camper(s) are coming to camp from outside of Canada. How is that going to work?

Despite the current restrictions on international travel into Canada, we remain optimistic that more reasonable entry conditions will exist come mid June. We ask that you continue to cross your fingers because part of what makes Wahanowin so special is the friendships our campers and staff make with people from all around the world. 

19. When exactly will camp be allowed to open? We are confused.  

We totally understand your confusion as there has been alot of mixed messages out there. Doug Ford recently announced the Province’s re-opening plan and  Overnight Camps are clearly included in Step 2 of the Roadmap To Reopen. Step 2 includes:

  • Step Two: Further expanding outdoor activities and resuming limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn. This includes outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, outdoor sports and leagues, overnight camps, personal care services where face coverings can be worn and with capacity limits, as well as indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15 per cent capacity.

This may affect the start of camp by a few days, and we will keep you up to date as we hear more, but we are now more optimistic than ever that camp is happening! Its just a a matter of time and patience as the province’s COVID-19 counts reduce and vaccination counts increase. Lets all keep our fingers crossed for a seamless Step 1!


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