Last year marked Camp Elim’s 75th anniversary, but it was a challenging year for us. Our plans for running camp as normal were quickly thwarted with the looming pandemic. By mid-May, it became apparent that we would not be able to operate our camper program due to government restrictions forcing the closure of overnight summer-camp programs across Saskatchewan. Government reopening plans and sanitizing protocols also made it difficult to operate as a rental facility, other than that of our recreational vehicle park.
Instead of preparing for campers, we seized the opportunity of a “maintenance summer” to repair, refresh and restore our facilities. Although we would not be hiring our regular staffing numbers, the board mandate became to provide three students with summer jobs, as we had received funding through the Canada Summer Jobs federal grant program.
Together with our facility manager, the students worked at a variety of tasks, such as painting, cleaning, organizing, maintaining grounds, sanitizing for COVID-19, demolishing and replacing our expired refrigeration units, and doing improvements to our craft shack. They also made good progress at increasing our online presence on Facebook and Instagram.
Our 75th anniversary was celebrated virtually this year. Subscribers to our social-media channels were taken down memory lane through the last 75 days of 2020, with daily posts highlighting Camp Elim’s growth and change throughout our history.
This year, we are hopeful that we will be able to increase our rental availability throughout the peak season, in order to increase our income. Rentals provide a great opportunity for groups to enjoy our space, and they supplement our costs substantially. In addition to this, we are in the process of hiring an executive director to help us manage the overall umbrella of our operations.
With the 2021 season upon us, there continues to be uncertainty surrounding the ability of camps to operate as we normally would. At the time of writing this article, the Saskatchewan government has provided guidelines for day camps, but overnight camping is not permissible under current health restrictions.
This season, Camp Elim is planning to run day camps for the month of July that will cater to a variety of age groups. In this way, we still hope to be able to provide a valuable service to our community, increase our visibility in southwest Saskatchewan and keep the excitement of camp alive!
Laura Grassing is a Camp Elim Board member.