Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
To our camp community, and to new adventurers,
Like many of you, the sudden and unexpected appearance of COVID-19 on our doorsteps, significantly affected our global operations. As an organization focused on helping young people travel from around the world to Canada to work at summer camps in close proximity to others, we were forced to adjust to a new reality.
As we write this today, although the news is increasingly positive about Canada’s response to the pandemic, we are not yet certain what the next season will hold for us. What we are confident about is our desire to support our camps and international staff as best as we possibly can moving forwards.
The purpose of this statement is to share what our response to the pandemic was, and then also to explain how we intend to move forward to brighter summers.
Our response to the events of 2020:
Our Canadian headquarters, based in Toronto, Ontario worked directly with government officials and took advice from local, national and international health authorities on the threats and recommended response to COVID-19. Our partner offices around the world kept us informed on health advice, and travel restrictions from their home countries. A team was formed across Camp Canada and Smaller Earth offices to coordinate a unified approach to a wide spectrum of existing, and potential scenarios so that we could respond quickly to changing circumstances.
Deliberate efforts were made to communicate the latest information, potential impact, and actual changes to operations with our camp owners and directors, and with those participants in our program who could be impacted. We sent regular email updates, and hosted live Facebook Q&A sessions to keep an open dialogue.
As work permit restrictions were introduced to slow the arrival of international travellers to Canada, we successfully worked with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to secure exemptions for international summer camp staff who had already made plans to work in Canada for the summer, provided quarantine requirements were followed. Unfortunately this did mean that we had to close to new applications made after the date of this exception, and these applications have automatically been deferred to 2021.
Our team worked closely with our health insurance provider to receive a guarantee that any medical claims made for travellers on our program would include coverage for COVID-19, as soon as a participant left their home country.
Arrangements were made with accommodation providers in Canada to facilitate for international staff to be able to safely quarantine should the necessity arise.
Unfortunately, several camps had to make a decision to close their doors in advance of the summer, due to unique logistical and safety challenges to accommodate for their population of campers. As soon as we learned of these closures we contacted any participants who were hired at these camps directly via phone and email to talk through alternative arrangements, or to discuss withdrawing from the program entirely. It is a testament to the grit and determination of our international community to travel and experience Camp Canada, that the large majority of participants opted to stay in the program and wait for further updates!
On May 19th, Provincial Governments started making announcements that overnight camps specifically would not be able to run this summer, and so our remaining overnight camps were forced to cancel their regular programs, and staffing arrangements. By May 29th we had shared with all participants their refund options, or explained how to defer their application to 2021. During this difficult time of winding the program down, we made many staffing changes at offices around the world, and worked through participant questions and concerns with limited staffing resources. Our work permits team was able to successfully process several work permits for directly hired international staff who were still able to travel and quarantine in Canada.
Our expectations moving forwards:
At the start of this season we are unsure of what the summer of 2021 will look like for camps, campers, staffing or international travel. The summer outlook will change several times over the next few months, and we will need to be prepared to adjust and adapt with the outlook.
As an organization, our goal is to develop people through camp and we strongly believe in the positive benefits that cultural exchange programs like Camp Canada bring to the world. As part of that mission we are committed to moving forwards with preparing for next summer and putting ourselves in a position that will support our camps, our participants and community at large as best as we possibly can.
Given the unknowns, the inevitable challenges, and the consistent changes that will arise over the next year, we are sharing our key criteria that we believe will enable us to best support you in future summers.
- We will work closely with federal and provincial camp associations, camp owners, healthcare providers and participants to ensure that the health and safety of our community is put first.
- We will learn from camps, schools and similar organizations worldwide that were able to provide some sort of overnight experience, or gathering of young people, to understand the protocols that were implemented to ensure safe environments.
- This season we expect guidance, regulation and restrictions to change quickly and frequently. We will endeavour to share information we learn as quickly as possible with those affected, and listen intently to those who share information with us.
- This begins with statements such as this, to our community at large, early in the season
- Camp Canada has always been accessible to our community, and we are committed to keeping an open dialogue with you, and respond quickly to your questions or concerns
As you may have seen from our recent social media post, the Premier of Ontario yesterday made the announcement that overnight camps in Ontario will not be allowed to run this summer.
Everyone at Camp Canada is heartbroken to hear the confirmed news that the majority of the summer camps we work with will not be opening for Summer 2020.
If you are affected by the changes announced by the province of Ontario you will receive direct communication from us in the next few days outlining next steps and your options. Please also keep an eye out for communication from your camp.
Once again, thank you for your continued support and understanding as we navigate this difficult time together.
Together we are facing unprecedented times of change. The situation is evolving daily and like many other businesses out there we are taking each day as it comes, usually with new challenges we never imagined having to face.
Unfortunately, over the past few days and weeks a small number of our partner camps in Canada have cancelled their summer program. This is extremely sad news for everyone involved, from the campers to the international staff.
For the vast majority of placements, we are still preparing to facilitate travel this summer and we continue to work closely with our partners in Canada to ensure everything will be ready when the time comes. It is likely that dates, times and travel arrangements may change as different camps deal with different challenges so we ask that you continue to remain as positive, open and flexible as possible.
Understandably, lots of you are wondering what happens if travel bans are not lifted or social distancing continues. Whilst we know people are searching for definitive answers about potential scenarios we believe the best approach is for us to work with the information we have available now whilst also monitoring the situation closely, following guidance from Public Health Canada, Immigration Canada and making decisions with your safety as our utmost priority.
The coming days, weeks and months will no doubt be very challenging for us and for the camp community as a whole but together we remain committed to inspiring people to go further and to positively impact the world through cultural exchange.
As we move past coronavirus, when the lockdowns are lifted and the borders are opened it is going to be more important than ever that we remain steadfast in our mission to provide life-changing experiences that bring people together from different countries, backgrounds and cultures.
Thank you for your continued support and positivity.
Based on Canadian Government travel restrictions due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Camp Canada have made the decision to pause all new applications for summer 2020. The update states that those exempted from the restrictions include “temporary workers…who had made arrangements to come to Canada to work before the travel restrictions were put in place.” The travel restrictions were first put in place on 18th March, 2020, which means that only applicants who registered before 18th March 2020 will be able to enter Canada. Camp Canada applicants who registered on or before 17th March 2020 are exempt from these restrictions and can continue with their application as normal. Applicants who started their applications on 18th March or later will have their applications deferred until further notice, and we will be reaching out directly to those who applied after this date.
This decision has been made to allow us to provide our current applicants with the high standard of customer care and service we pride ourselves on. Our Canadian summer camps are still planning for the season to go ahead, and they remain very excited to welcome Camp Canada participants this year.
If the current travel exemptions are adjusted, which would allow for your application to continue, we will be in contact to let you know.
On 16th March, 2020, in an effort to stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new travel restrictions. For the time being, only Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and US citizens will be allowed to travel into Canada. The new travel restrictions come into effect starting on 18th March 2020, and will continue until further notice.
We are monitoring the situation closely. We remain positive that the situation will improve, and that these travel restrictions will be lifted before our current applicants are set to arrive in Canada in three months' time.
We are continuing to operate the Camp Canada program, and camps are still very excited to welcome international staff this summer. The Camp Canada team will continue to process applications, and we recommend that all applicants continue to work on their applications.
A further update will be issued on April 16th. Over the next few weeks, the Camp Canada team will be reaching out directly to participants who are set to begin their placements before the end of April. If you have any questions, please refer to our FAQs below. If you can't find your question, please reach out to our team via Livechat.
Camp Canada are committed to the welfare and safety of our participants, and have been monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation closely.
We are staying informed on WHO, Health Canada, Foreign Office and Public Health England advisories, as well as updates from our Canadian team, partners, and camps. At this time based on the guidelines and information from the sources outlined above, the Camp Canada programme will be going ahead as planned for summer 2020.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updates if the situation is to change.
Frequently Asked Questions
Important: as this situation develops, these frequently asked questions may contain information that is no longer valid. We will update this page as we receive more information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
Is Camp Canada still going ahead for 2020? Can I still apply?
Yes, the program is still going ahead. However, due to Canadian Government travel restrictions, we are only able to process applications that were made on or before 17th March. If you applied on or before this date, your application will be unaffected and can continue as normal.
What happens if I applied after 17th March 2020?
All new applications from 18th March 2020 will be deferred until further notice and we will be reaching out directly to those who applied after this date. If the current travel exemptions are adjusted which would allow for your application to continue we will let you know.
How are decisions being made about the program?
We are staying informed on the latest advisories and recommendations made by relevant government, health, and travel agencies. These include:
- The World Health Organization
- The Canadian government
- The Foreign Office and Public Health authority of each participant's home country
We are also relying on the experience of our global head office in the UK, and our local office in Canada, as well as each of our partner camps.
Can I withdraw from the program now due to the coronavirus?
As the program is still going ahead this summer the standard terms and conditions of your programme agreement apply, including any eligibility for a refund. We highly recommend that you continue with your application.
What if I or someone else contracts the virus during the program?
All medical issues at camp will utilize the camp’s well-being protocol. Each camp's protocol will be different, but will typically include access to the camp's health center, medical professionals, and the support of local health authorities.
What are my next steps?
At this point, based on the information we have received, applicants who are interested in the Camp Canada programme should proceed with their applications as normal. Next steps may include submitting all necessary paperwork and completing your profile.
What should I do about booking flights?
We understand that you may be concerned about changes to flights and adjustments to travel restrictions at home and in Canada, therefore, if possible we recommend you hold off on making reservations. We are closely monitoring relevant travel advisories and will reach out once we feel it is a good time to make your travel arrangements. When booking, we recommend using a credit card that provides travel insurance/cancellation insurance, and/or purchasing additional travel insurance from a provider of your choice. For specific details of coverage in case of cancellations we suggest discussing with your credit card/insurance provider to be certain.
I’m having trouble getting my medical form, what should I do?
We are aware that this is an incredibly busy time for health services. Therefore, if your GP has advised you that they cannot provide you with a signed form due to the current circumstances, we understand and have extended our deadlines. If your GP has the capability to accept the form via an online submission, this may be a possibility, as no physical examination is required. However, we realise this may not be a priority for many health services at this time.
If you already have a signed medical form, you can now upload this to the document section of your Camp Canada profile.
Should I still apply and pay for my criminal background check?
We understand that you may be concerned about making the payment for your background check at this time, therefore, we have extended our deadline. Canadian employers still require a criminal background check before you will be able to work at camp. We are working with our camp directors to make this process as easy as possible for you.
Are the lifeguarding courses in the UK still going ahead?
Based on the recent restrictions put in place by the UK government, we are unable to run our UK Bronze Cross course which was due to take place from April 17th-19th. We will not be rescheduling this course for a later date in the UK, but we do still have a number of other options available in June in Canada. Our team will reach out to everyone who had a place on the course individually to make alternative arrangements.
If I contract coronavirus whilst on the program, will I be covered by the medical insurance?
Yes, you will receive regular insurance coverage, provided you were not diagnosed with Coronavirus before starting your trip. If you are experiencing any symptoms of illness before departure, we ask that you follow your local health authority's guidance.
My availability dates have changed due to new exam dates, what should I do?
Please contact our team and we will talk you through your options.