Advanced Camp Overview

March 9, 2021

We came together on February 26 to leverage our knowledge to support the reopening of outdoor programs as soon as possible. Over fifty people answered our call and worked with peers to find solutions and compare practices.

As some of you could not make it, we’ve prepared this condensed overview of the very fruitful conversations. Though the great energy and proactiveness of this meeting are hard to showcase in such a format, we hope this will persuade you to join us for part 2 of this conversation on April 30!

 

Québec

The Québec conversation concentrated mostly on finding ways to get what we want from the provincial government. The team determined that the government had no interest in listening to us right now because they don’t have much to win from it or not much to lose by ignoring us. To better advocate, the team divided their discussion into two aspects: What we can do for them and What we want.

What we can do for them:

  • Contribute to economic recovery on a local, regional, and national scale;
  • Prevent health issues such as the Nature Deficit Disorder among young people and help fight a sedentary lifestyle;
  • Prevent and help treat mental health issues;
  • Help with issues concerning global warming and environmental protection.

What we want:

  • Accessibility for all; Access to the outdoors is a right, not a privilege
  • Led outdoor activity providers must be able to operate
  • Support and funding for outdoor education programs at community, association, camp, and school levels.
  • Support for the encouragement of an outdoor culture in Quebec by supporting people to go outside on their own.

 

Atlantic + Prairies

The Atlantic and Prairies conversation came to the conclusion that the sector is open to organizing itself to properly advocate for their interests. A strategy that emerged from the discussions is coordinating with tourism associations who already have a voice at the table and often share many interests with our community. An Idea was also formulated around the creation of virtual familiarization visits for Ministers and Deputy Ministers to showcase the quality and value of our programs and activities.

Above all, this conversation, which joined people from two seemingly very different parts of the country, showed the value of sharing knowledge and strategies on a national level.

 

Alberta

The Alberta conversation highlighted the very important issue of transportation. With public and group transit affected by the pandemic, we’re stuck. They also shared practices in outdoor education for K-12 students and adults. Lastly, they talked about the fact that there have been more incidents in Kananaskis provincial park than ever, demonstrating, again, the importance of educating Canadians on how to safely go outdoors.

 

B.C. and Yukon

In B.C. and Yukon, guidelines for a safe reopening of the outdoor sector by May 1, 2021, are coming! These guidelines will ensure we can come together responsibly and safely in the outdoors. Our community has been pushed off to the side by our own doing; we must be more proactive and put pressure on the government.

The conversation also talked about the fragmented state of outdoor education in this part of the country. While recognizing that this fragmentation is seen in almost every other province, this group decided to build bridges between subgroups so we can have a stronger voice.

 

Ontario

The Ontario discussion began by discussing some of the efforts of the Ontario Camping Association to advocate for the safe re-opening of Camps and more broadly the sector in general. A set of protocols is being reviewed with the government and the health authorities. This would be an important precedent and if approached correctly could help to set a cascade of “other dominoes” into positive motion.

Those assembled also began to brainstorm and discuss a series of other initiatives that could potentially happen in parallel to the other important work already underway to help and reinforce the most beneficial outcomes possible. Tony discussed an idea that had been raised with the Summit Steering Committee about a video that could be crafted to speak powerfully to the benefits of Led Outdoor Activities (echoing the findings of Working Group #1).

The idea would be to put out a call to the Outdoor Community to submit short sound bytes about why it is so important for our sector to re-open and some of the ways that we can support mental and physical well-being at such a turbulent time in our history. The short anthology of testimonials and illustrated benefits would be engagingly edited, packaged, and “virally shared” on social media to help drive awareness about the importance of re-opening.

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If you care about bringing people outside, this Summit is for you. It is designed to give space for your opinion to influence the results.  Join this unprecedented national collaboration and help co-create the future of the outdoor community.

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