Metro Vancouver spring break camp options still exist despite COVID-19

·2 min read
Many in-person spring break camps this year will focus on outdoor activities as much as possible. In City of Vancouver co-ordinated camps, kids will be kept in the same cohort for a full week to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Many in-person spring break camps this year will focus on outdoor activities as much as possible. In City of Vancouver co-ordinated camps, kids will be kept in the same cohort for a full week to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Spring break is less than two weeks away for most B.C. students and parents needing childcare will be happy to hear that many day camps are a go in Metro Vancouver for the upcoming school holiday.

The dire reality of COVID-19 was coming to light during spring break last year, and when businesses were shut down and a public health emergency declared in mid-March, camps closed and families were left in the lurch.

This year, Metro Vancouver camp organizers say everyone is more prepared and a range of activity options are available.

Alison Cristall, recreation supervisor at Trout Lake Community Centre in East Vancouver, said nearly all community centres in the Lower Mainland are holding camps.

She said all camps must follow strict WorkSafeBC safety plans that include staggered arrival times and designated entrances and exits. Parents will also be asked to fill out a daily health assessment for their children.

Cristall said campers will be kept in pods all week and there will be one supervisor to every seven children, as opposed to past years when the ratio has been one to 10.

Community centre camps are starting to fill up, but wait lists are available.


Christine Pilkington, publisher of the blog Vancouver Mom, has a list of a dozen camp options on her site for families in the region to consider this spring that include sport, fine art and outdoor options.

"There was pandemonium," said Pilkington, referring to spring break 2020. Now, children and parents are familiar with wearing masks and following safety protocols, she said — as are camp organizers who want to keep their businesses operating.

Arts Umbrella, a non-profit organization that offers a range of arts classes at four locations in Vancouver and Surrey, still has spaces available and is one option profiled on Pilkington's blog.

Online options

Another option for children is to go to virtual camp this year.

Paula Neuman, manager of Humane Education at the B.C. SPCA, said in past years the animal organization has hosted in-person camps but this year it will all be done online.

Children aged 8-11 can be registered for week-long camps that will include animal meet-and-greets, guest speakers, virtual shelter tours and daily games and challenges.

A one-day camp is also being offered on March 20 for older children, aged 11-14, who are considering a career involving animals.

Financial assistance is available for children if cost is a barrier to participating in B.C. SPCA camps.

Nueman said the animal non-profit is hoping to offer in-person camps again this summer.

According to Cristall, online camps can be more affordable options in many cases. But she is looking forward to seeing children play together in-person.

"You get to see that kids are kids," she told CBC. "It just normalizes things for them."

LISTEN | CBC's Margaret Gallagher reports on 2021 spring break camps in Metro Vancouver: