May 15, 2021
Dear overnight camper families 2021,
Here we sit, between a rock and a hard place. And yet, the sky is blue, birds are singing, horses are romping around the land munching grass. The juxtaposition of this reality, weighted with an inner sadness makes this letter even harder to write, let alone send.
We never saw this coming. Last year when overnight camp was cancelled for 2020, no one wanted to think that the pandemic would continue on and get much worse the next year. When we began our planning in the fall we naively thought we would get back up on the horse in 2021, with some new protocols and changes, but the same old camp.
Today, as we continue to meet and wait and weigh our options, we are also observing many other camps around Ontario starting to pull the plug on their overnight camps. Each day comes with a new sad announcement. As it seems it is now our turn.
A common thread in our conversations is safety. There is still a ban on overnight camps that needs to be lifted by the Ontario government. As well, we continue to await clear guidelines and protocols from the Board of Health to know what camp would look like. All this has piled up to force us to make the hard decision that we cannot in good confidence continue to plan to run our Overnight sessions this summer and need to cancel at this time. We need time to prepare. We need clear guidance to make everyone involved, including you the parents, to feel that it will be safe to be at Overnight camp this summer. We have none of this and the clock is winding down.
Everyone is struggling in similar and yet different ways during this current shutdown. And yet we feel heart broken and helpless to do anything, besides choose our attitude day to day and surrender and wait. Years ago we never could have imagined that we would be having the conversations we have today around masks and vaccines and health. But looking back, it seems we took for granted the freedom that is found at camp. It is our great hope we can return to that freedom someday. When camp does return it will be with new eyes of love and appreciation for what is special and magical about camp at CIrcle R. We recognize that KIDS NEED CAMP! They need to be out in nature. They need to play and connect with other folk of all ages. They need to try new things, gain independence, and be part of an intentional community. And this is our commitment. When it is safe to do so, we will be ready. And it will be oh so sweet to gather, to sing, to play and be together.
The family at the ranch want to express their deepest gratitude for your continued support over the years. We recognize that this announcement will be hard for your child to hear for a second year in a row and that there will be much grief and processing that will need to happen. Let us know how we can help. Whether it’s a virtual tour with the horses, or more online campfires, we are ready and willing to put together anything that would help the campers continue to love camp and feel connected to the land at Circle R.
No one can say exactly what will unfold in the next month or several months, but we encourage you to keep in touch. We have all been forced to live in the moment, to some degree, and let go of long term plans until this storm passes. If there is something we are able to offer safely throughout July we will let you know. We are still holding out hope for our Day camps in August.
We will be in touch in the next week to connect with you personally and to arrange the next steps.
It is our hope that you and your family are finding ways of connecting with nature and experiencing joy during this difficult time. The birds don’t know or care about COVID and yet they wake each day and sing no matter what. This is what gives us hope.
And the rest of the Circle R family