Parent Bulletins

Camp updates & information for parents of our summer 2020 campers

Summer 2020 Update

Pathfinder Summer 2020 Update

20 May, 2020
Algonquin Park


Greetings Pathfinder Families, 

It’s my sad duty to share the news that Pathfinder summer sessions are cancelled, due to the health challenge present in North America from COVID-19 coronavirus.

Yesterday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced overnight summer camps would not be permitted to open for the 2020 season.

Pathfinder will endure this blow, and we will rally to all be together for 2021. Details and links at the end of this note will guide you as we begin.
Perhaps in happy camp seasons to come, you’ll recall where you were when you heard your Pathfinder was closed for the first time in its 106 years. I know I will. I was in a wood boat on Source Lake, a flat calm float on a sun washed May day.

I cut the engine on the Giesler, laden with summer gear, to glide quietly and take in the Island for a few minutes. I was finally heading over to camp, loading into my cabin, opening others, enjoying that hope.
Alex Hurley buzzed my pocket.
Funny, I thought. He’s old school like me. He’d laugh that I have cell service and a phone on old Source Lake. Alex texted me Ford’s announcement. Reading, I recalled vividly Alex and me, solo paddling Source in our red cedar canoes on another May day, black flies hovering in still air, years before I partnered with Glenn to have our turn being responsible for Pathfinder.
I sat, staring at Pathfinder Island, greening up now but her canoe racks empty, swim dock parts oddly parked on the Burma Trail shoreline. Ice cold Source spread out, blue-black; the red hull shone in it. The sun brought that scent of spar varnish up to me, the way trip days sometimes do in our canoes. For me there were too many feelings all at once to manage holding onto one.
Wherever this unhappy news reaches you, I want to say a part of you heard it sitting with me in that boat. Seeing our special place just ahead, surrounded by what fills our senses and sense of self in Algonquin, but just unable to reach it because of a buzz of news from the modern world.
This is a hard, bitter disappointment, weeks in the making while dozens of leaders of the province, the health and camping professions, tried to find a safe way forward in a global pandemic. Camp made elaborate plans to adapt, we had a seat at the decision-making table. Like me, Pathfinder means the world to you – her campers, counselors, directors, parents and old-timers.

It took more than a century’s tumultuous world history to halt our beloved summer tradition. But we know in the end: the health and well-being of all our people and their families aren’t worth the risks required by the current state of this pandemic and still-emerging measures against it.
More than anything, my concern right now is the feelings of our incredible campers and staff. Our 107th summer was the bright spot for all of us this crazy year. I’m thinking of you and I am always available, eager to talk with you, any hour, at my contacts given below. And you be in touch with your Pathfinder friends, it will mean so much to them. Need their contact, ask me!
We are all in that boat together, but each has his own worry. This was my rookie season! Will I get my Ott, AA or CIT year? Will I have a chance to become a Headman on schedule? Can we recover the tuition money? Can we get in next year? And, the health crisis we’ve all endured since early March has now become an existential crisis for our camp. Pathfinder will need to ask the whole community of members to join in sustaining camp in order to reach a new year and renewed stability.
The details we have so far should be some comfort. New campers, we can’t wait to welcome you at the first opportunity, and will send you great Pathfinder activities to enjoy while we pass just about 400 days to the next Big Moment. Campers, you’ll get to move up with your age group. AAs will have their big trips next season. CITs will simply go through the program in 2021 and morph into Second Men as ever.

Parents – yes, you can recover 100% of your tuition, credit it forward for this year’s rate in 2021, or split it to help your camp. Your boys will all have priority for enrollment starting Labor Day 2020. And veteran Second Men, who have handled so much disappointment in senior year along with so much uncertainty about September: you will be hired as Headmen next season and be caught up on all certs, training and privileges of your rank.
We’ve printed this paddling metaphor in previous bulletins. ‘Together’ is an idea we know in our core at Pathfinder. We know it now, in adversity.

All of us know the Pathfinder way. In a headwind, we lean in and paddle hard in perfect unison.
We’re Pathfinder people, and we're all in this together. On trip, that’s the greatest feeling in the world.


There will be more news each week at our Pathfinder website, with details there and in these bulletins. My invite to call is legit – I would love to hear from you, one and all. I may get impatient and call you first.
And finally … we sum up so much when we part company with our unique 'Noonway.' From camp’s earliest days, this sentiment – an invented word – means ‘go your way in peace,’ and includes ‘until we are together again.’ Please join me in keeping this tradition of parting in your messages, calls and moments with Pathfinder people.
Nothing can stop what Pathfinder is …



Mike Sladden, director
585.746.5062 cell



Glenn Arthurs & Mike Sladden, owners
Camp Pathfinder, est. 1914
Facebook: CPI – Camp Pathfinder Algonquin Park
Facebook: CampPathfinder
Instagram: @camppathfinder

OCA Press Release  - May 19, 2020


" you each have your last look at the canoe dock on your way back home in a couple of days, you can say goodbye knowing with excitement that this place will always be here, waiting for us to say another hello." Ally Rail, Chapel Speech 2019

COVID-19 Update 5/1/20

Pathfinder health update: covid-19 / coronavirus - May 1, 2020

Greetings Pathfinder Families!
All of us know the Pathfinder way. In a headwind, we lean in and paddle hard in perfect unison.
We’re Pathfinder people, and we're all in this together.
On trip, that’s the greatest feeling in the world.

This bulletin is reaching campers, parents, staff, alumni, friends and supporters of Pathfinder.
Please feel free to contact me any time, any hour: / 585.746.5062 cell.
Thanks for reading this Pathfinder bulletin carefully. I hope you’re reading at home, safe and sound.
Did you hear, Source Lake ice-out was officially the morning of Apr. 30? Do you have news to share? Get in touch!

Here’s the latest on Pathfinder and COVID-19 / Summer 2020
Glenn and I along with all the staff crew, like you, remain hopeful and upbeat about our Summer 2020.

As of today, Pathfinder continues plans to conduct its 107th summer camp sessions, if Ontario and Canada permit camps to operate, and if everyone’s well-being can be protected. Camp is preparing modifications and augmented practices to accommodate our counselors and campers, in light of the viral pandemic and responses to it. Today, we remain poised, awaiting definitive news.
Prior to a final determination on Pathfinder 2020, each enrolled family will shortly receive personal email letters, inviting parent and camper preferences and questions. The bulletins will be detailing some likely camp options and some likely new health practices if camp is happening.

The question hanging over us all: Can Pathfinder operate? The deciding factors will be both government / public health directives, and Pathfinder’s in-house decision whether Camp can safeguard acceptably the health and well-being of campers, staff, and camper-staff families. More news may come from Ontario in two weeks’ time. We will welcome this news, as it will allow us to move ahead no matter what.
During this time, Pathfinder management continues a daily working partnership with the Government of Ontario, Ontario Public Health, our accrediting body The Ontario Camps Association, and Ontario Parks. This partnership began on March 18 and will remain in place for the 2020 season. It is reassuring that camps are receiving good attention from government. It's also been good to be close to the action, in the role of an OCA board member, and an advisor to the COVID-19 task force. My work so far has to do with standards for accredited camps, and advocacy with government for camps, including the six camps of Algonquin Park. It is encouraging to see professionals from many walks of life working in common purpose, with impressive expertise.
Meanwhile, Pathfinder today, like most accredited camps in Ontario, is in a holding pattern on plans for Summer 2020, due to a number of factors restricting activity in Canada in order to stem the mortal consequences of the virus.


  • The US-Canada border is closed via the Quarantine Act to both US traveler and non-essential worker transits until May 21, 2020, and all other foreign travelers until June 30.

  • The Ontario Government Emergency Declaration of March 17 has been extended repeatedly, now into May, with periodic evaluations May 6 and 12. Camps are deemed non-essential businesses, and throughout the province no gatherings are permitted over 5 persons in any case.

  • Ontario Parks (Algonquin Park) remains closed until May 31.

  • All children’s camping remains regulated by the Ontario Health Prevention and Promotion Act Reg. 507/13, and the Standards for Accreditation of the Ontario Camps Association.

  • All civil closure and restriction deadlines are subject to evaluation and extension.

Next Steps for Pathfinder, May 2020
Camp Pathfinder will monitor the border status and Ontario directives throughout May. Ontario has released its plan, A Framework for Reopening Our Province as of April 27. It calls for a three-stage easing of civil restrictions but does not provide a calendar timeline. To advance society to each stage of reopening, the Chief Medical Officer of Health must determine significant improvement in COVID-19 control and its reduction over 14-day intervals.

No specifics have yet been issued regarding child care, summer camp, or outdoor recreation activities. It can be said that each stage is conservative, and may be reversed immediately if virus transmission increases. It is also possible officials may determine that children’s camps, or certain classes of camps e.g. residential, cannot operate safely during the normal summer season this year.
Consistent with our accreditation and with professional practice, Pathfinder has prepared detailed contingency plans for running camp sessions, whether fully or in one of several modified forms. These plans employ predominant practices in health, hygiene, medical, operations, programming, and logistics specifically in response to COVID-19 realities. The planning is informed by first-person contacts and original sources from a spectrum of public and private sector expertise: public health, regional civil authority, and the professions of children’s education, youth development, organized camping, experiential travel and learning  and risk management.
That might sound fancy, but here is the simple meaning. Scenarios might include, but are not limited to: a full-season operation with normal or slightly delayed start; a shortened-season operation with delayed start; or, a limited-time session with controls on program. Any of these may include requirements to limit the number of campers and staff.  In other words, our plans are shaped for -- a full season experience, a shortened season with full or modified capacity, and a limited season with controls both on numbers of residents and activities such as out-tripping. Pathfinder can, in any event, prepare to welcome and care for our community, even as we watch for information guiding our decision on the wisdom of congregating at camp.
The truth is that no one yet knows whether any adaptive camp experience will be permitted by the Canadian federal government’s health officials, by Ontario or its Chief Medical Officer of Health. We do know this is where our directives will come from. Civil authorities are in charge of deciding whether camp can be a safe gathering of young people – safe for them, safe for the region, safe for the adults, but safe also for their families and communities back home.

Even government staffs and officials are uncertain right now, working through this daunting problem with caution. The well-known concept of flattening the curve needs to be understood with precision. We can't forget that controlling the spread of COVID-19 alone does not remove the risk of contracting the virus, or the possibility of someone precious to us becoming severely ill.
An Ontario summer of camp life, perhaps even modified, could still be a marvelous, invigorating respite for campers and counselors who have endured uncertainty, unwelcome change and unnerving isolation over many weeks. It could also, unhappily, risk an acceleration of infection, despite heroic effort. An incidence of infection or an outbreak could have dire consequences for the victims of illness, for sense of security and well-being in children who love their camps, and for the integrity and reputation of camps as a whole. 
For the time being, we plan, prepare, partner with all stakeholders ... and wait.

A Special Effort for Extraordinary Times …
In March, Pathfinder suspended the requirement to pay 2020 camp tuition balances, normally due on April 1 each year. Enrolled campers’ reserved places and current payments are secure, and no further payment is required until the summer program is certain.

For now, it remains likely Pathfinder WILL operate. In recent weeks, some of our veteran parents have held off enrolling. To assist, Pathfinder is offering families who wish to enroll, but are unsure about committing funds at this time, a reserved space now for a nominal, fully refundable deposit.

Should circumstances beyond our control require it, or should a parent decide to withdraw at their discretion, ALL payments for Summer 2020, including deposit, will be credited forward, split, or fully refundable as desired, at a designated time. 

If necessary due to a forced closure of camps, Pathfinder will need to take steps to survive as an organization. The camp will ask for parents' partnership, by leaving a portion of their payment with camp as a credit toward 2021. This is purely voluntary, and 2021 rates will remain unchanged as well.

Get in touch with me for this or any questions, at / cell 585.746.5062. Enjoy keeping current with Virtual Pathfinder fun and info. We will keep loading new content:



COVID-19 Update 4/1/20

Pathfinder health update: covid-19 / coronavirus - April 1, 2020
Camp Pathfinder continues to plan for another terrific summer season on Source Lake.
The Latest ... No Fooling...

Pathfinder and all OCA accredited camps continue plans for the summer, in concert with Ontario and federal government task forces. 

Still, summer camp seasons are in the balance. Today, Canadian and U.S. authorities extended school closures, stay-at-home orders, medical and economic relief efforts, and cautions that physical distancing/online learning will be necessary for many weeks to come.

As a board member of the Ontario Camps Association, I have spent the past two days and much of the past two weeks in Zoom meetings working with colleagues, officials and experts. Meanwhile, Paige Clark and I launched “Virtual Pathfinder” to bring some Pathfinder fun, learning and spirit into all our households. Watch that web page, and our social media feeds, for regular updates!

Camp professionals across Ontario are doing what Camp Pathfinder is doing. Preparing to run our camp seasons, and augmenting our best practices in all areas. We are setting up a fantastic 107th season on Pathfinder Island, and - depending how well our societies distance and deal with COVID-19 - we are also preparing to adapt if changes come through civil orders from government and public health leaders.

So many parents have told me recently how much their boys need camp this summer. But health and safety come first. 

A Special Effort for Extraordinary Times …

Your boys know the Pathfinder way.
In a headwind, we lean in and paddle hard in perfect unison. We are all Pathfinder people, and we're all in this together.

As of today, Pathfinder is suspending the requirement to pay camp tuition balances, normally due April 1. Rest assured, you campers’ enrolled places and current payments are secure, and no further payment is required until the summer program is certain.

Should circumstances beyond our control require it, ALL payments for Summer 2020, including deposits, will at your discretion be credited forward or fully refundable, at a designated time. If necessary due to a forced closure, Pathfinder will need to take steps to survive as an organization. The camp will ask for your partnership by leaving a portion of your payment with camp as a credit toward 2021. This is purely voluntary.

For now, it is very likely Pathfinder WILL operate. In recent weeks, some of our veteran parents have held off enrolling. To assist, Pathfinder is offering families who wish to enroll, but are unsure about committing funds at this time, a reserved space now for a nominal, refundable deposit. Get in touch with me for this or any reason! I'm at / cell 585.746.5062.

COVID-19 Update 3/20/20
Pathfinder health update: covid-19 / coronavirus - March 20, 2020

Camp Pathfinder continues to plan for another terrific summer season on Source Lake. 


Pathfinder remains a ‘Go’ for the upcoming 107th season …
We are working to assess and respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19 to ensure that camp season. Current best practices at camp will be augmented. We will provide a healthy, safe and secure experience for all our campers and staff in 2020.


But before we can all get to ‘Go’ the Source Lake ice has to melt away, the Spring Crew has to wake Pathfinder Island from her winter’s rest, and we have to all do our part in protecting the health of our communities. That’s our trail to the happiness of days at Pathfinder this summer.


Current conditions …

Because Pathfinder’s 107th season is slated to begin in late-June 2020, the camp is so far expecting to operate as usual this summer, following the current period of restrictions and social distancing. Thursday marked our first day of Spring 2020. As winter winds down in the northern hemisphere and thoughts turn to a Pathfinder summer, plans are afoot for the 2020 Spring Crew to reach the island May 1.


As of today’s bulletin, the U.S. and Canada have advised citizens not to travel abroad, and to isolate at home to prevent the spread of illness. Canada and the U.S. have closed our mutual border to tourism, shopping, cultural and sporting pursuits, while permitting essential commerce to continue. Algonquin Park, along with all Ontario Parks, is closed now until April 30. During this time, the great snow load in the bush and two feet of lake ice will wither to swell the waterway for summer paddling.

Camp plans underway …
In addition to all the usual preparations we make for a fun, safe season, Pathfinder is setting up special plans: for pre-screening all our summer camper families, staff and visitors, providing appropriate transportation, performing hygienic preparation of Pathfinder Island, updating daily camp health routines, continuing our outstanding summer food service and medical/health practices.


Currently, the most important goal is to ‘ all paddle together’ and practice the social distancing recommended by medical experts. We can make our homes snug and cozy like we would a campsite on a stormy layover day. Pathfinder can help.


Resources for you …

This can be an anxious, frustrating and even scary time for our kids. Here are a few links to sources I trust with advice and reassurance on helping our children and teens understand, adapt and cope with the change in normal life necessitated by society’s response to the virus.



School days at home …

Let’s bring camp spirit into our home life this month. With schools transitioning to online learning, Pathfinder can be a resource for your student. I’ll post materials to our web pages starting Monday, March 23. There’ll be topics on Pathfinder, Algonquin Park, and wilderness canoe trips. You could use something interesting for an assignment or project. 


We’ll have items of interest for:


language arts
social studies
art and art history

We remain as excited as always for the start of our best summer ever! We’ll keep you, our Pathfinder family, posted on all developments. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions, perspectives and concerns. 585.746.5062 cell

Our message on March 20 ...
Smart preparations continue for the 2020 Pathfinder season, our 107th.

New realities have been imposed on daily life in response to the spread of the Coronavirus COVID-19. The situation evolves continuously since our first Pathfinder bulletin, March 3.  Likely you’re reading our bulletin from your home.

We Pathfinder folk are unavoidably affected by these challenging times. While a lot is happening and news is changing by the hour, I want you to know we expect the situation will improve and Pathfinder will be in session this summer. 


However, nobody can predict exactly how the next few months will unfold, whether school will cut into summer time, whether Canadian authorities will limit access, or permit camps to operate all summer.


If we all do our part during this difficult ‘social distancing’ phase of the current viral outbreak, Pathfinder will once again host an exciting, fulfilling season for our boys.

History guides our confidence …

Think of our camp over a century of history. Pathfinder has been a welcome haven and respite through two world wars and a depression, through various contagions and cultural churns. Camp thrived and literally grew through it all.


The extraordinary measures by governments, schools and businesses in both Canada and the U.S. are intended to be temporary, to both protect everyone’s health and to blunt the impact of the virus transmission in the near term, so governments and health professionals can conquer it in the long term.

Stay connected to camp … 

You -- our camp families and especially our campers and counselors -- are a constant in my thoughts. Please be in touch with me to let me know your family’s ok. and what you are up to!  

Do you now have students learning remotely from home? See our project (above) to post Pathfinder material to the website for their use. And, review some good links (above) to perspectives on helping our children, teens and college students cope with the current challenge.


Here at the winter office, lots of Pathfinder alumni and staff are calling and writing to check in. If you or your relatives need help with anything right now where you are, please know that Pathfinder people are likely close by, and will lend a hand. 


Don’t hesitate to email and phone me to check in! 585.746.5062 cell.


Sladds and the Pathfinder crew

COVID-19 Update 3/3/20

Pathfinder health update: covid-19 / coronavirus - March 3, 2020

Pathfinder’s health team is monitoring the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) originating in Wuhan, China. New information is emerging daily on the virus and public health responses. The health and well-being of our Pathfinder community is always the top priority. We understand that risk remains low for healthy children and adults, that the situation is evolving, and that it’s important to continue monitoring. Currently, no impact is expected on our 107th Pathfinder season.

I work closely on this and all health matters with our camp medical directors Aaron and Julia Orkin, our local Ontario public health authorities, our terrific nursing staff, and in my role as a board member of the Ontario Camps Association.

I’m reminded of several viral outbreaks reaching North America over the past two Pathfinder decades. These were well-handled and of limited impact to summer camps, with no impact to Pathfinder.

Pathfinder has existing summer-season procedures in place to pre-screen campers, staff and visitors before travel and upon arrival, to maintain appropriate measures for avoiding illness, and to collaborate with Ontario health agencies.

Camp will keep you informed regularly as March unfolds, as spring emerges, and as our camp season approaches. Please don’t hesitate to reach out personally to me any time, if you have any questions or concerns. I’ll remain in touch through our web pages and email bulletins.


The camp staff join me in a message to our Pathfinder boys:

Ki Yi, CPI Campers! – As a Pathfinder guy, you’re a leader in so many ways. Show everyone at home how we take good care, just like you do at Camp, to avoid the spread of any sort of illness. Wash hands often, cover your coughs and sneezes, get good sleep and food. Avoid touching your face, or sharing food/drink, water bottles, utensils and the like. Stay home and rest if you don’t feel well. And of course, your tripper’s confidence will reassure everyone around you. That’s ‘trip-tough’… Bravissimo! Can’t wait to see you this summer.


Information you can use at home:

World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control

Camper Forms and Payments 2020


March is the annual time to complete tuition payments and camper forms for 2020.
Note: No further payments are required at this time, as we evaluate the COVID-19 situation.
A complete information e-bulletin will publish April 3, 2020. Email sladds if any questions!


Pathfinder now has online or paper options for the camper forms. Choose either option for convenience.
(We can report that parents are finding the new online method very quick and easy.)

For paper forms, visit the Parents web page for forms, and click to download each.

For online forms, sign in to your Pathfinder online enrollment account.

Complete your camper’s forms in his enrollment.
These include basic enrollment forms, and the all-important Health, Transport and Gear forms.


If you enrolled directly into our new online platform, you completed the first three camper forms at that time:

- Camper information
- Enrollment terms and conditions
- Camper code of conduct


Now you can complete the final forms:

- Health form
- Transport form
- Gear order form * (optional)

If you submitted the paper enrollment form, your enrollment and payment information are now set up on our online platform and you can click here, to update your household and camper information, as well as complete all the required camper forms (see above).

If you have not logged in to your online account yet, it’s very easy. Sign up and you’ll receive an email with directions to sign in and create your login for future use. Then, visit your online household and camper enrollments, review the information, complete forms, and choose payments.

Visit Pathfinder online enrollment to log in

In light of response to COVID-19, Pathfinder has paused any obligation to pay your Camp tuition balance at this time (March 30, 2020).

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