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Friendship centre keeps summer camps running

The centre is hosting canoe and bike camps throughout July and August for children and youth six to 18
Liam Turcotte, left, and Andrew Smith kayak in Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park last year during an overnight camping trip. Supplied Photo

The North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre isn’t letting COVID-19 stop its summer camps. 

The centre is hosting canoe and bike camps throughout July and August for children and youth six to 18. 

“The events we picked are outdoors, first and foremost, so I’m not confining kids to an area like a gymnasium that we have here at the centre,” says Andrew Smith, program co-ordinator for the Urban Aboriginal Healthy Living Kids Program. 

While it may be easier to social distance when biking, Smith says the canoes provided for the canoe camp are 16-feet long -- more than enough distance between the children. Each paddle and canoe is wiped down after use. 

Smith says a maximum of seven children for the canoe camp and eight for the biking camp is set to allow for social distancing. 

COVID-19 has forced him to come up with alternatives to previous summer camps, Smith says.

“Usually, I would be doing overnight camps throughout the summer; we take youth out onto the land, reconnect with nature, things of that aspect. But this year, there have been restrictions on that kind of activities. I’ve now restructured it into day camps.”

Smith says parents need to sign a registration form stating they have explained social distancing protocols to their children. 

He hopes the camps can provide a bit of normalcy during the pandemic.

“Personally, just getting out and being active can be a fun, full-day event . . . I feel like it's a good step in getting back to normal in all aspects of our day-to-day life.” 

The bike day camp will be held today, July 28, and Aug. 4 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The canoeing day camp will be held on July 21, Aug. 11 and Aug. 18 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Participants need to bring their own towel, swimsuit and water bottle for both events. Canoes and paddles are provided for the canoe day camp, but children participating in the bike day camp need to bring their own helmet and bike. Lunch is provided. 

The camps are free to any member of the friendship centre. 

For more information and to register for the camps, email Smith at 

- Mackenzie Casalino, Local Journalism Initiative, North Bay Nugget

About the Author: Mackenzie Casalino

Mackenzie Casalino is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The LJI is funded by the government of Canada
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