Fewer spots for tots in Montreal summer camps in 2021

MONTREAL —
Filling time for pandemic parents can sometimes be a difficult task.

“We can do a bike ride to fill an hour-and-a-half but there are a lot of hour-and-a-halves in a day,” says Adam Mullin, father of Arthur, a typically rambunctious 9-year-old boy with floppy hair and a love of video games.

“He needs structure and activities to get him outside… camps have the ability to do that.”

Montreal summer camp registration has begun and spaces are limited this year because of the pandemic.

Evan Horner, the owner and director of SportLife, a summer camp that offers a different sport for kids every week, says his camp is only operating at a 50 per cent capacity as a pandemic precaution, and they’re already 75 per cent full.

“Getting outside and being physically active with friends is more important than ever this year,” he says.

Horner says SportLife was open last summer as well with a one-to-five coach-to-kid ratio and had no COVID-19 cases among any staff or campers. With added safety protocols such as daily temperature checks for all and increasing the number of hand-washing stations, as well as the addition of a “hygiene supervisor,” Horner says, “it felt like a normal summer.”

Some summer camps have decided not to open at all.

The Champions Day Camp on Queen Mary has cancelled their programs for 2021 because of COVID-19 health and safety concerns while the YMCA has a message on its website saying: “We’re not exactly sure yet which direction the pandemic world will take us for the summer of 2021.”

But Mullin has already made up his mind and will be registering Arthur once again for camp.

He knows it’s not just to get Arthur outside, but to get him socializing with other kids again as well. He says the pandemic is stopping Arthur from meeting new friends because he’s been taught not to interact with people who aren’t in his bubble, and Mullin can’t be with his son all the time, every day.

“I’m an old man. I have a job.” he says. “I can’t be the play buddy.”