Special Statements

Statement on Antisemitism

At the Ontario Camps Association, we believe in the transformative power of camp for all children and youth. As an accreditation organization that helps set the standard for quality camping in Ontario, our primary concern is always the safety and well-being of campers, and we work continuously with our members to strengthen the inclusive experiences that define the camping world.

We are deeply concerned about the rise in antisemitism in our province and across the country, and recognize its very real impacts on the safety, well-being, and operations of our Jewish camp members. We also understand that these members and their campers, staff, and families are facing increasing adversity and violence, and we extend our heartfelt empathy to all those affected by this.

The Ontario Camps Association unequivocally condemns antisemitism.

Through our dedication to fostering a nurturing and safe environment for all, we are committed to addressing the challenges posed by antisemitism within our community. We encourage open, respectful conversations to create an atmosphere where everyone feels respected and valued

Further, we remain unwavering in our commitment to our core values and to living those values in all that we do, including fostering understanding, encouraging empathy, and maintaining an environment where every individual is treated with respect and dignity. We continue to listen, explore, and incorporate feedback to determine the next steps to support our members and their communities including training and education on antisemitism and ongoing meetings with those affected.

We urge our community to join us in upholding our principles and values, to help ensure that our camps continue to be spaces of learning, growth, and mutual respect, unaffected by the divisiveness of global circumstances. Let us unite around what brings us together: our shared love for the camp experience and our dedication to creating positive, life-changing experiences for all children and youth.

On behalf of the 2023 OCA Board of Directors

These additional resources may be helpful to members who are interested in learning more about how to combat antisemitism:

  • Anti-Defamation League (ADL): https://www.adl.org/ The ADL is a leading organization in the fight against antisemitism. Their website offers resources, educational materials, and information on combating hate and discrimination.
  • ADL’s Guide to Antisemitism: https://www.adl.org/what-we-do/antisemitism ADL provides a comprehensive guide on understanding and addressing antisemitism, including resources for educators and community leaders.
  • B’nai Brith Canada: https://www.bnaibrith.ca/ B’nai Brith Canada is the country’s oldest independent Jewish Human Rights organization.
  • Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs: https://www.cija.ca/ The CIJA is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA, representing Jewish Federations across Canada.
  • Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center https://www.fswc.ca/ FSWC works to build a more inclusive and respectful Canada by sharing the lessons of the Holocaust, advocating for human rights, and combatting both antisemitism and hate in all its forms.
  • Holocaust Memorial Museum – Educational Resources: https://www.ushmm.org/ The USHMM offers educational resources and materials to help promote Holocaust awareness and tolerance.
  • International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/ The IHRA unites governments and experts to strengthen, advance and promote Holocaust education, research and remembrance.

(December 22, 2023)

OCA’s Forest Fires Statement

The Ontario Camps Association is aware of the ongoing threat that wildfires present to our communities across Ontario, including a potentially significant impact for summer camp operations across the province.

OCA Members treat the health and safety of campers, staff and families, and that of our surrounding natural environments, with the utmost care and priority. This means that camps in affected areas continue to monitor and follow the advice of local authorities for any regulations, guidelines or situation updates including air quality alerts, fire restrictions, travel constraints, and operational decisions.

At OCA, we exist to strengthen the Ontario camping industry and the way we do that is through accreditation. We have more than 600 operational standards that accredited camps must meet or exceed in order to help ensure the delivery of high-quality, fun and safer summer camp experiences for children and youth across Ontario. As part of these standards, camps have specific wildfire policies and there are resources within OCA’s Risk, Emergency and Crisis Guide to support members in their independent management and decision-making during these kinds of situations.

While OCA does not enforce mandates of any kind on members, we are steadfastly committed to supporting all of our member camps in developing practices to help ensure the protection of campers and staff, and that includes those connected to this evolving situation.

OCA’s Statement on COVID-19 Vaccine Policies

Although the OCA does not have a formal COVID-19 vaccine policy in place at this time, we strongly recommend that all camps and outdoor education centres follow the recommendations of Public Health Ontario and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) regarding vaccinations. Both groups recommend vaccines for people 5 years of age and older unless there are medical exemptions.

We respect that each camp has the autonomy to establish their own policy to best serve their community and their needs. The OCA continues to recommend following the guidelines set out by public health officials including Public Health Ontario and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

Vaccination Policies

The Ontario Camps Association’s Board of Directors met on January 13, 2022, and passed the following motion:

“The Board authorizes the Industry Recovery and Sustainability (IRS) Committee to engage the government in discussion on the importance of clarity regarding any COVID-19 vaccination mandate impacting camp operations. The Board does not endorse the IRS advocating for or against COVID-19 vaccination mandate.”

Statement on Sexual Violence

The Ontario Camps Association (OCA) is aware of a news story regarding one of our Member camps. As a membership organization we support and stand with survivors of sexual violence and stand in support of our Members developing practices to ensure the protection of our campers and staff. We encourage survivors and those affected by today’s article to please reach out to your loved ones, community members, or the emergency crisis line linked here.

The OCA is committed to providing support to campers, families and its Members on an on-going basis. In addition to our regular efforts, the OCA Board will pursue a further review of resources or support offered and any relevant changes that may be needed to help ensure participants and staff are provided with a safe experience. The board is determining next steps and is committed to transparency through this process.

Proof of Vaccination Policy OCA In-Person Events

In alignment with our values, and to continue to offer safe and responsible programming, Ontario Camps Association (OCA) has instituted a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for all in-person events effective November 1, 2021. Proof of vaccination is required to access or volunteer with any OCA in-person event, venue and/or service. Proof of vaccination, identification, and exemption requirements will be determined by the Board of Directors in consultation with the Ministry of Health and local health units. This policy is applicable to all employees, volunteers, Members, contractors, exhibitors and where applicable, members of the public associated with events.
Where an individual provides a medical, religious, or other valid reason for having not received a COVID-19 vaccination, the OCA will work with the individual on a one-to-one basis to find an accommodation if possible.
Please note – this policy does not pertain to any policy you have or will have for your camp, outdoor education centre or small business operation.

Islamophobia Statement

The Ontario Camps Association stands in solidarity with our Muslim Members, campers and families in condemning the horrifying attack that occurred in London, Ontario on June 6. Acts of racism, Islamophobia, violence and harassment do not match the OCA’s vision of enriching the lives of children, youth and families nor do they align with our values. The OCA welcomes and celebrates all of our Members and the diversity they bring to our Association.

The OCA is deeply saddened and grieves with our Muslim Community at the incredible loss of life that the community has suffered. We recognize that events like this must be met with compassion, empathy and resolve to continue our fight against racism in all its forms.

The Naseeha Mental Health Hotline is an organization which provides both Muslim and non-Muslim youth with free, confidential support 7 days a week from 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. EST via phone or text. We encourage you to reach out for support.

https://naseeha.org/ 1 (866) 627-3342

May 31 Residential School Statement 

The OCA grieves with our Indigenous Members and Indigenous communities across Turtle Island at the discovery of the bodies of 215 Indigenous children found buried at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. 

We mourn for the children who did not receive the love, support and care they deserved when they were taken from their families and communities and forced to attend Residential schools. 

The OCA acknowledges the deep and ongoing harm caused by residential schools and other acts of colonization, and we are committed to working towards reconciliation. We encourage our Members and the Ontario camps community to familiarize themselves with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action and examine how they can be implemented at their camps.

We recognize that this is a deeply upsetting and traumatizing time for survivors and intergenerational survivors of residential schools. Please reach out to your loved ones, community members, or the emergency crisis line listed below. You are not alone. 

The National Residential School Crisis Line is available 24/7 for those that may need support. 1-866-925-4419

Posted May 31, 2021.

Our Statement Regarding the Roadmap to Reopen

The Ontario Camps Association was pleased that Premier Ford and his government have included the reopening of summer camps- both day and overnight- in its Roadmap to Reopen. We are grateful for the government’s decision to allow for the reopening of overnight camps- more than 15 months since the industry was shuttered- and encouraged by the decision to allow the continued operation of day camps with greater capacity.

Clearly, the inclusion of summer camps in the government’s reopening strategy is an endorsement of the Ontario Camps Association’s detailed approach to a careful and responsible return to camp, and, is an acknowledgement of the widespread support the OCA’s plan for camp has received from a litany of internationally respected health institutions, professional medical groups, highly respected physicians, leading mental health advocates, and public health professionals.

With clear metrics to allow for the operation of programs this summer, both in Step 1 and Step 2 of the provincial reopening plan, millions of Ontario campers, staff, parents and caregivers can join the OCA and the government in the coming weeks and plan for camp.

We look forward to continuing to work with the government and public health officials, and to encouraging all friends of camp to get vaccinated and help speed the arrival of the province’s staged reopening.

Posted May 26, 2021. 

 

Our Response to Recent Anti-Semitic Actions

The Ontario Camps Association does not condone anti–Semitism or racism in any form. These actions, which have recently been seen around the world, do not match our vision of enriching the lives of children, youth and families nor do they align with our values. The OCA welcomes and celebrates all of our Members and the diversity they bring to our Association. Regardless of religion, nationality, race, sexual orientation or other lived experience, you have a place within the OCA.

We encourage our Members to take care of each other and their communities. Please reach out and connect with one another as needed, the OCA is here to support all of our Members.

Posted May 20, 2021. 

Black Lives Matter

As a camping community, storytelling is embedded in many of our camp’s cultures. We understand that not every story is easy to share or to hear, and that not everyone has been given the same platform to share their stories.

We cannot be silent.

At the OCA we are committing to listening and uplifting stories from Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). As leaders we recognize the responsibility of using our voices and our platforms to create space to allow for uncomfortable and challenging conversations.

Today we renew our commitment to learn and grow in order to best support BIPOC, both within and outside of our communities.

Today we renew our commitment to learning and bettering ourselves and the larger camp community.

Today we acknowledge that we value the many intersections of lived experiences our members and our communities bring to the table.

We take seriously our responsibility to our members and our industry to denounce racism in all of its forms. We stand with you and will work hard to follow through on our commitment. We understand, now more than ever before, that #blacklivesmatter.