A summer camp in Crofton has closed for the remainder of the season following a COVID-19 outbreak occurred at their facility.
On August 15th, 250 children arrived at Camp Qwanoes to begin their summer camp, which was set to run until August 20th.
The children, who were all within the eight to eleven age group, arrived from all over British Columbia.
On August 19th, three days after this group of children arrived to camp, one child felt unwell and went home.
The child was not showing classic COVID-19 symptoms and did not receive a rapid test at camp.
Two days later, on August 21st, the camp received news the child had tested positive for COVID-19.
Up until this point, Camp Qwanoes had successfully run seven weeks of summer camps during the 2021 season without incident. This included more than 2,200 kids attending the camp.
“In the days that followed we learned that some more campers from other cabins that week also tested positive,” Scott Bayley, Camp Qwanoes Executive Director told Victoria Buzz.
“We immediately contacted the families of each camper in the affected cabins. We isolated the staff who had contact with them that week.”
The process to assess the camp’s staff included administering many Point of Care Rapid Tests. As a result, at least 20 children and 13 out of 174 staff members and leadership program students also tested positive that week.
Although being double vaccinated was not a requirement of being employed by Camp Qwanoes, staff were strongly recommended to do so.
The staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 were not double-vaccinated two weeks prior to the outbreak. All double vaccinated staff tested negative for COVID-19.
Due to this outbreak, both day and overnight camps planned for this week, as well as an overnight camp, were cancelled.
“The health and safety of all our campers and staff is always of the highest priority,” said Bayley.
“Throughout the pandemic we have always sought to meet or exceed the public health guidelines.”
Although Island Health did not recommend the week-long closure, the camp is taking precautionary measures.
“Cancelling camp was an agonizing decision,” Bayley continued, as cancellation of the last camps of summer affects about 500 eager campers set to attend Camp Qwanoes.
Camp Qwanoes is currently finishing the summer with one four day camp for a reduced number of local children. This camp is set to end this Thursday, September 2nd.
When asked why they decided to move forward with one last camp this summer, Bayley responded, “Our Medical Health Office told us it was safe, we love kids, and our staff could not imagine ending the summer without one final week with campers!”
Camp Qwanoes wanted to give overnight campers who just had their camp cancelled a chance to come before summer ended.
The camp was closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a large waitlist to attend camp festivities in 2021.
This last camp of the summer gives those who had been on the wait list the opportunity to attend camp before the season is over.
According to the camp’s executive director, the facility does have registered nurses and first-aid attendants on hand, and rapid COVID-19 tests are also available for anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms.