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Muskoka Woods camp cancelled soon after kids arrive due to COVID-19 outbreak

Last Updated Aug 2, 2021 at 3:50 pm EDT

Muskoka Woods camp grounds seen in an undated photo. INSTAGRAM/@muskokawoods

Just a few hours after parents dropped off their kids at Muskoka Woods summer camp in Rosseau, Ont., Sunday, they had to turn around and pick them back up.

Sherrie Mae Guthrie says they had been planning for camp since Christmas and her 12-year-old son was to stay at Muskoka Woods for a week.

After a four-hour drive from Clifford, Ont., she dropped him off around 3 p.m. Approximately three hours later, when Guthrie was halfway back home, her phone was “blowing up.”

“[My son] called and said ‘mummy you have to come back, there’s COVID’,” said Guthrie. After a moment of disbelief and speaking with a camp counsellor shortly after, Guthrie made the drive back to pick him up.

She said the camp was very transparent and sent an email on Saturday saying there was a positive case of COVID-19 at the camp, so that parents were aware of the situation.

The camp is in week five of operations and in an email to parents, administrators said guests were informed upon arrival Sunday that there was an “outbreak situation” due to a number of cases in one cohort.

However, around 5 p.m., they discovered an additional positive case outside the original cohort and made the decision to cancel week five of camp. Parents were asked to pick up their children as soon as possible or latest by Monday afternoon.

Guthrie says about 450 children were sent home, but her son was not nearly as disappointed as she was.

“He would tell you that those four hours were amazing,” she said “I think I’m more disappointed because I had such great camp experiences, so it’s more me hoping that my son could have that experience of meeting a new cohort of lifelong friends.”

Guthrie adds that she was very impressed with how the situation was handled and the transparency shown by camp administrators.

While Muskoka Woods has no vacancies for the coming weeks, she has put her son on the waitlist and if a spot opens up, she says she will be sending him. Her daughter is also due to go to the same camp on August 15 and Guthrie hopes the outbreak situation will be under control by then.

In a statement, Muskoka Woods acknowledged “there is a very small single-digit number of positive COVID-19 cases that are no longer on site at Muskoka Woods.”

The camp has also decided to cancel week five of the camp season.

“With the health and safety of our guests and staff being our top priority, we made the decision to cancel Week 5,” the statement said. “We continue to follow all Public Health protocols and are working closely with them on a date when we can reopen.”

“Our hearts are aching for all the kids who missed out on everything that summer camp has to offer,” said John McAuley, president and CEO of Muskoka Woods.