The Manitoba Camping Association is disappointed with the new public health orders as they do not include any overnight camp option.
"It's all over the place right now. As far as what the government has said to us is that as of June 26, day camps could operate with 20 people. With the recent announcement on Wednesday, the new public health orders have increased the day camp size to 25 and overnight camps are still prohibited," says Kim Scherger, the Executive Director of the Manitoba Camping Association (MCA).
Running a summer camp takes a lot of staff and effort. Therefore, a few camps made the decision roughly a month ago that they wouldn't even be open again this summer no matter the announcement.
"The camps staying closed are ones that are away from any large population. Camps that are more remote, a parent isn't going to drive an hour, three, or four every day to take their child back and forth to day camp. It's just impossible to do that."
According to Manitoba Camping Associations' press release, in a normal year, 50,000 campers attend the MCA's Manitoba camps, where 2,000 young people are employed, and over $25,000,000 is pumped into the Manitoba economy.
"We were led to believe that with this next phase of opening, overnight camps were going to be allowed at 50 per cent capacity. Camps are feeling forgotten," she says.
Scherger says that other provinces across Canada are able to offer some sort of overnight camp experience. Saskatchewan for example is offering the full camp experience with no restrictions this summer.
"If there's a reason why we can't be open overnight to any capacity, if it's because of different variants or because kids under 12 can't be vaccinated at this point, at least give us an explanation."
As of July 15, the MCA reached out to the Manitoba government for answers and have not received any.
"We have a couple of representatives and MLA's who, through the last year and a half have walked with us, tried to help, and have helped."
There has also been a camp staff shortage due to the new PHO only being announced for phase one at the end of June. That wasn't enough time to hire staff for many camps.
"Camp staff are often university or college students. They need to get jobs to pay for their education so they had to commit to other jobs as they were waiting and waiting for camp positions."
Financially, camps that are running day camps are still taking a huge loss. A group of 20 campers, perhaps 40 is a lot less than their regular 100-200 overnight campers paying to be there.
The MCA is asking the Manitoba Government to re-evaluate their decision and to allow overnight camps to open on August 1st at 50 per cent capacity to hopefully recoup some of their costs.