March 9, 2020
Dear Manitou families:
We are writing today to update you on the effect that COVID-19 may have on your child(ren) and the entire Manitou community. We wish to be proactive in terms of communication, even though camp is still 110 days away.
As you are aware, this is a fast-changing, fluid situation that we are actively monitoring.
We are working tirelessly with our network of advisors and experts every step of the way. Let us start off by emphasizing that we are fortunate to have guidance from the directors of two of Toronto’s leading hospitals. We receive daily information and updates from every relevant government organization, and we sit on the board of the OCA task force, formulating policy for all Ontario Camp Association camps. This allows us to be informed by numerous agencies, such as Public Health Ontario, the WHO, and Health Canada and CDC. Of course, we also have our wonderful medical team of doctors and nurses, as well as the American Camp Association and other infectious disease agencies guiding us.
One thing is clear: the position we are in today will change daily. In April of 2003, with SARS at its peak, we were prepared; fortunately, by June the threat had dissipated.
Three months is a long time in the infectious disease world, and we learned then that anything can happen over this timeframe. The good news is that every passing day brings new knowledge, placing us in an excellent position to ensure camp is safe by the time we raise the flag on Summer 2020.
As it is mere speculation at this point, our policies and procedures relating to Manitou’s operational changes will not be determined until closer to the start of camp. At the same time, we will be ready to implement numerous procedures well in advance, even if those operations are deemed unnecessary. All camps such as Manitou have infectious disease protocols already in place that will be revised and updated with the facts at hand, and will include appropriate policies with respect to campers and staff coming to camp from abroad, along with screening before and within the camp environment.
It goes without saying that Manitou puts the safety of its community above anything else. Please remember that infectious diseases are nothing new for Camp professionals; between H1N1 (swine flu), SARS, and West Nile, we have learned so much. It is our role as camp owners and directors to obtain the very best advice on these health-related matters and we take it very seriously.
Finally, the good news to date is that this virus so far has not posed any significant risk to healthy children and young adults. Right now, the people with the greatest risk are the elderly with underlying health conditions. In fact, it appears many children (unless they have a prior medical condition) may be carriers and do not even develop symptoms.
We remain as excited as always for the start of our best summer ever! We’ll keep our Manitou family posted on all developments, and please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions and concerns.
Mark & Jeff