Moving Forward Together
Dear Timberlane Families,
Thank you again for your incredible patience and understanding as we navigate these challenging times together. This week the Ontario government announced that sleepover camps would be closed for the summer. While it’s been tough to receive that news, we are heartened by your incredibly supportive emails and calls. Now that we have had a moment to digest the announcement, we wanted to provide you an update on our current actions, financial considerations and go forward on summer 2021.
UPDATE ON THE CURRENT CLOSURE STATUS:
While the Province has decided to close overnight camps, we are still trying to make camp a reality in some form or fashion. We have been in constant contact with the Premier’s office to ask for a meeting with the Premier to discuss a safe, science-based pilot program experience for campers.
One step that we have already taken is to engage Precision Bioscience, an Ontario testing company that produces COVID-19 tests in Ontario. Precision Bioscience has patented a highly sensitive and specific mobile PCR testing capacity already used in other markets (most notably the United States). This test provides accurate onsite results on the COVID-19 infection within an hour. The test has already received FDA approval and being utilized by businesses and camps throughout the United States (many of which will be open this summer). Further, Precision Bioscience is expected to receive final Health Canada approval for Ontario testing within the next days/weeks. We have already had discussions with Precision Bioscience and are pleased to announce that we can secure testing units.
Under the close supervision of public health experts with deep familiarity with Timberlane, we will be proposing a pilot program for Ontario camps that would create a camp experience that has an extremely low- to no-risk of COVID transmission outbreak. We would work closely with government and public health authorities to ensure our policies and protocols are robust, prioritize children and offer a safe experience for campers.
Under our pilot program, our protocols would be as follows:
- All campers and staff would be required to self-isolate for two weeks before arrival at camp.
- Upon arrival at camp, all campers and staff would be tested using the Precision Bioscience PCR test (social distancing, masks, and other prevention control practices would be employed throughout the testing process), answer a symptom screening questionnaire and receive a temperature check.
- Anyone with a negative test and negative screen would proceed through the gates and onto camp.
- Bunks would be single and separated by more than 6 feet.
- Mealtimes would be staggered to allow for social distancing.
- Hand washing stations would be provided and enforced throughout the camp.
- All children would be regularly screened throughout the camp period for signs and symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
- It would be forbidden for staff and campers to leave camp during the period. Once a camper or staff member leaves camp for any reason, he/she would be unable to return for the season.
- Parents would not be able to visit the camp.
- Enhanced cleaning using medical-grade reagents for common surfaces.
- Should any camper or staff member test positive for COVID-19 at any point, we would alert local public health authorities and follow the recommended guidelines, including isolation. Additionally, we would have a holding cabin available for that purpose.
The above are just the broad strokes, as we will have a complete detailed plan as we move forward. We strongly believe this is a very workable and effective solution, while also providing children and their families the opportunity to enjoy the camp experience. By requiring 14 days of self-isolation, testing all campers and staff upon arrival, eliminating visitors and movements in and out of camp, we believe that we can offer a safe, but very enjoyable experience. Our measures would produce a much more protected experience than what you see at currently opened schools, day camps, or even at the local parks. We also believe that the information gleaned from this pilot program could be precedent setting not just for our industry, which may still face the same challenges next summer without a vaccine, but also for schools, long term care homes, shelters, and other groups.
There are no promises that we will be successful, but I want you to know that we are still trying. Children and families are facing the terrible strain of this epidemic. Adding the summer months to this already challenging situation, only compounds the frustration and anxiety that many are facing. Families will have to juggle not only their professional lives but a summer of care and entertainment, all while trying to keep their children physically and mentally healthy. We also know that our children are traumatized and struggling with so many aspects of this pandemic. Camp can help change that dynamic. If we can still make camp happen this summer, even just for a few weeks, it’s worth every effort. We will keep you updated on our ongoing efforts with the Province.
While we are still working in the background to find a solution for this summer, we must also acknowledge that Ontario has given an order for overnight camps to remain closed. As a result, we must address the elephant in the room of what our refund plan is. Our goal is to make this unimaginable challenge as positive as possible while maintaining our business with its cost-intensive year-round expenses.
Fifteen years ago, when I purchased Camp Timberlane, my goal was to create a unique camping experience that was second to none. To accomplish that goal, over the past decade, we have invested heavily in this vision. We have rebuilt all of our cabins and rec buildings, added a new kitchen, upgraded all of the activities, added new activities, and ensured that our campers are utilizing the latest equipment. To put it simply, year over year, we continue to reinvest into our business and infrastructure. The annual cost in maintaining the facilities compounded with the loss of a year’s revenue will surely be a challenge. This is our burden and not yours. We remain committed to keeping Timberlane ready as your child’s home away from home. The financial implication will be significant to our business, so we ask for your support. If you are planning on returning to Timberlane in 2021, please consider taking advantage of our rollover incentives.
FOR CURRENTLY ENROLLED FAMILIES:
By June 1st, you will receive a statement of account along with a response form that you will need to fill out. You will then have two options to choose from:
1. Rollover your 2020 payments to 2021
For families who choose this option we are pleased to offer the following:
- A 2020 price freeze for 2021 and 2022
- Priority registration for 2021
- Apply a 5% credit to 2021 calculated by the amount you rollover (for example, a rollover amount of $5,000 would result in an additional $250 credit toward 2021). The 5% credit will be applied after July 1, 2020. We welcome additional payments before July 1, 2020. Any additional payments before July 1, 2020 will also accrue the 5% credit. These credits will be applied to your final invoice.
- Priority access to our 2020 Family Cabin Rental program (TO BE ANNOUNCED PENDING APPROVAL)
For those who paid using our Easy 3 plan (for 2020) there is no need to pay anything more for your 2021 registration (which opens August 17th, 2020) and you may do one of the following with your final balance:
- Split the remaining balance into two equal payments due November 1, 2020 and February 1st, 2021
- Pay the balance before July 1, 2020 and take advantage of the 5% credit on this payment. The credit will be added to the credit that you will be already receiving on all previous payments.
For those who paid $1,000 deposit you will be required to pay an additional deposit of $1,000/per child on August 17th, 2020 and then you may do one of the following:
- Split the remaining balance into two equal payments due November 1, 2020 and February 1st, 2021
- Pay the remaining balance before July 1, 2020 and take advantage of the 5% credit applied to your account
2. Refund on your account
We understand that for some, rolling over any or all of your 2020 payments may not be feasible, and we are committed to providing full refunds as soon as possible. The timing of refunds will be somewhat dictated by the number of requests that we receive. We are hopeful to complete all refunds prior to September 30, 2020.
FOR NEW FAMILIES CURRENTLY NOT ENROLLED
Registration for 2021 will open on August 17th, 2020 at 9am. New registrations will be subject to our 2021 RATES and the following conditions will apply:
- Required deposit per camper $2,000
- Remaining balance split equally into three payments payable on November 1, 2020, February 1st, 2021 and May 1, 2021
PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR ALL 2021 APPLICATIONS
- Everyone must re-apply for 2021. Registration opens on August 17, 2020 at 9am
- Priority registration will be given to those who roll over their deposits/payments
- All payments are 100% refundable up until December 31, 2020. Cancellations between January 1st and May 1st, 2021 are subject to a non-refundable deposit of $1000
- There are no refunds for cancellations after May 1st, 2021
- 2020 price freeze for 2021 and 2022 is only applicable to those who have rolled over their deposits
- Credit card payments are subject 2% admin fee
POSSIBLE CHANGES FOR 2021 TO CONSIDER
Nobody knows what the implications of COVID-19 will have on overnight camps moving forward. We must consider the possibility that there may not be a vaccine by the summer of 2021. Therefore, the plans that we have put forth at the start of this email will have far more significance. We are committed to adopting changes that would essentially enable us to create a small village of virus-free, low-risk individuals with rigorous public health standards.
So, what does this mean?
Here are some considerations currently being discussed for 2021 and beyond:
- Smaller cabin sizes with more space between bunks
- Hand washing stations throughout camp
- Testing of all campers and staff before camp
- Strict policies on in/outs of camps
- Limiting guests into camp and /or canceling Visitors Day/ Day trips/Weekender program
We need to be prepared, moving forward and learn from this experience. Timberlane is committed to doing everything possible to be COVID-PREPARED so that we never have to sacrifice a summer again. We will continue to update you with these plans and, as always, welcome your feedback.
The CIT program at Timberlane has always been without question the highlight of our campers’ experience. We have heard from so many of you and sympathize that you do not want to miss your CIT year. There is nothing more valuable for the journey from camper to staff member than the hands-on training a CIT receives during their CIT summer. We are therefore using this opportunity to introduce a new 2021 CIT Pilot Program. This Pilot Program will allow 2020 CITS to return as 2021 CITS and take part in what will truly be an improved hybrid camper/staff platform.
The 2021 CIT Pilot Program will include:
- CIT’s will live in the CIT Palace
- CIT’s will have all staff privileges including days off/staff curfew
- CIT’s will have exclusive programming, including Rafting Trips/Killarney etc.…
- CIT’s will have an interview in the city and will be allowed to choose their specialty assignments before camp
- CIT’s will be invited to attend PRE-CAMP
We have seen with our own eyes how increasingly challenging it has become to be a staff member at the age of 16/17. The demands, support, care, attention, responsibility, and supervision of our campers have dramatically increased over the past decade. We believe this additional year of training and maturity will enhance the care we provide to your children.
Furthermore, this program will be offered at a significantly reduced price of $7000.00 for the FULL SEASON.
Graduating CIT’s who are hired back 2022 will be compensated at the 2nd year pay scale.
We believe that there are incredible benefits to our new CIT program and are excited to arrange a ZOOM call in the next couple of weeks to outline the full details.
The Pre-CIT program at Timberlane is also a magical year that concludes with OLYMPIAD.
At this time, we can confirm that 2020 PRE-CITS will return as PRE-CITS in 2021. We are currently reviewing our PRE-CIT program and will update with you in the coming weeks with additional details.
Words cannot express the depth of our gratitude for your loyalty and trust. We will be in touch with all of you directly in the upcoming weeks. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.
With determination and love,
On behalf of
Brit, Ida and Harley