Hot fun in the city? Here's what summer camps will look like this year

·3 min read
City of Ottawa summer camps will divide kids into cohorts to limit the number of contacts they have, according to Patrick Fournier, who oversees camps at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex in Orléans. Siblings will be grouped together for the same reason. (John Hart/The Canadian Press - image credit)
City of Ottawa summer camps will divide kids into cohorts to limit the number of contacts they have, according to Patrick Fournier, who oversees camps at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex in Orléans. Siblings will be grouped together for the same reason. (John Hart/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Splash pads are officially back. Summer camps have been given the go-ahead.

But what will the City of Ottawa's day camp offerings look like this second COVID-19 summer? How seriously will the pandemic tweaks affect the kids?

Patrick Fournier oversees summer camps at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex in Orléans. With registration now underway, he spoke to CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning about what kids — and parents — can expect from city-run camps this year.

The conversation has been edited for length.

Splash pads are an approved activity, but campers won't be taking a dip in city pools. Why not?

We aren't able to maintain the physical distancing requirements.

When you're in a pool, the safety measures say that you have to be within arm's reach of children who are not good swimmers. If you're within arm's reach, you're not two metres away. We're not able to wear masks in the pool, which means we're not able to follow those guidelines.

So unfortunately camps won't be able to use pools this summer. We will be taking advantage of the splash pads and outdoor water games … when the weather's warm.

Patrick Fournier is portfolio manager at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex. He says while some summer camps have filled up, others have plenty of spots.
Patrick Fournier is portfolio manager at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex. He says while some summer camps have filled up, others have plenty of spots.(Christian Milette/Radio-Canada)

Just to clarify, will you have kids wearing masks at the splash pads?

When we're outdoors, we won't necessarily need to wear masks if the physical distancing is respected. But we'll follow whatever the city and the province's guidelines are in that respect.

So how are the camps going to look this summer? How are you going to maintain social distancing?

We'll be offering a similar camp as we did last summer.

Last summer, we had Camp Summer Fun, which was a low-ratio summer camp for kids four to 12. We'll be doing activities and crafts that will respect the distancing requirements and keep the number of participants lower.

Will campers who don't live in the same household be expected to remain two metres apart throughout all of the camp activities?

We are going to try to group people from the same family into cohorts.

It can be difficult to have different rules for different people, but obviously, if you're in the same household, there can be a little bit of leeway there for distancing.

City of Ottawa summer day camps will including crafts and activities that allow kids to get creative while maintaining a safe physical distance.
City of Ottawa summer day camps will including crafts and activities that allow kids to get creative while maintaining a safe physical distance.(CBC Kids)

What would you say to someone who might be on the fence about sending their kids to summer camp? They might be thinking, OK, it's something for the kids to do, and it's a break for parents, but it doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun.

I would argue the opposite.

We offered summer camps last year, and this year will be a similar format. Even some of the restrictions we had last year are a little bit less restrictive this year. We got lots of good feedback last year that our camps were a lot of fun and the kids kept coming back.

Last year, we had to put things together fairly quickly because the situation was new to us. But now we've had more than a year to get used to the situation and are able to plan a little bit more. So we do have some ideas to try to make it more interesting for the kids.

Are there still spots available?

Yes, there are. We're offering camps at many different locations throughout the city, both in French and English. So some weeks are full, but others still have quite a bit of room.

The City of Ottawa is also offering virtual summer camps, and people can sign up for a half day or full day. There are themed camps covering topics like science, engineering, technology, math, dance, music, animation, and visual arts.