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Blog April-2021 Pathfinder Covid Plan

Updated: Jun 5, 2021

Updated June 2, 2021 Let's talk about the plan.

Here is an overview of our summer plans so far. These may be adjusted by further research or public health directives as April turns to May turns to June. We're sharing the broad strokes of the Pathfinder plan here so families can take in the overview and get prepared. Please don't hesitate to contact camp for more details. Best way to reach us in the pre-season is to email Sladds at

The Plan in Overview Pathfinder will use a layered approach to mitigating the risk of Covid-19 for our camp community. All the Staff and Campers play a crucial role in our success, as do all our Pathfinder families. No matter how 'open' other regions become with vaccination and the easing of masking, distancing, gathering limits, etc., Pathfinder is a special setting and will use the 'layers' approach to protect against the inadvertent presence or spread of Covid-19.

Pre-Camp Routines

Camp families will isolate their camper and test him before travel to Pathfinder.

Testing and Travel

A negative-PCR test and a ‘clean’ transit to camp. Likely you'll see a rapid test as part of the mainland welcome upon your arrival to Pathfinder, a final confirmation before folks enter our camp bubble.

Closed Camp Bubble

The bubble isolates our community from inadvertent but unwanted outside exposure. Pathfinder Island will be limited to campers and staff this season. Ventures outside the bubble will be for tripping and for interior campsite staff day off privilege.


Camp life will be the most ‘normal’ with a cohorting approach.

Groups of cohorted campers and staff can live together as a 'household' would, and per Ontario Health. Each cohort's members will be able to enjoy life without masks or distancing with each other. Each cohort will in turn distance and mask with other groups indoors, and use the latest guidelines for interactions outdoors.

Enhanced Health Measures at Camp

More health staff and daily screenings will combine with additional testing this summer.

Hygiene and disinfection will be highly emphasized throughout camp, repeated during the day. Outdoor activity and tripping will be emphasized. Indoor events and density will be reduced, especially at meals.

In-Camp and Tripping Life

Cohorts will sleep, eat, daily program and canoe trip together.

Multi-cohort activities will include common-sense masking and distancing practices.

Pathfinder trips will be with cohort mates, so no special adaptations will be needed.

Covid Management in the Bubble

Isolation, testing, care and clearing of anyone with Covid-related symptoms. A single-case or outbreak management and camp safety plan that's created with Public Health.

The Plan in More Detail. Let’s dig in a little deeper on these topics.

Pre-Camp Routines

Our families will be filling out some household and health information for Pathfinder, then planning to gradually increase isolation of their camper or staff member at home, during the 10-days before a test, the 5-days before that test, and the day or two after the test, before the travel to camp on Source Lake.

In principle, a Pathfinder camper would begin to limit his out of household exposures at 10-days before a pcr test, then mostly stay near home and only have essential outside exposures at 5-days from the test. Each day the household replies to simple health screening questions on a Pathfinder app.

If school or another youth program or family event is planned in these days leading up to a test, the family and the camp will assess together how to maintain needed practices and increasing isolation of the camper leading to test day. The school's measures will likely be adequate within our plan. A vacation youth program may be as well. Imagine, though, that planning for a large family reunion or for multi-household parties might need a rethink. At this stage, all Pathfinder families are making choices for each other's sake, too.

Keep in mind, the most important isolation days are the 5-days prior to the test, and the couple of days prior to travel to camp. The quality of the test result depends on not having an exposure during the 5-days prior. Quality of the isolation depends on not accidentally having an exposure from test to camp. Same goes for the reliability of the negative test result. With this information being trusted, boys can enter camp and establish their cohorts with confidence.

Testing and Travel To Camp

A Pathfinder camper would have a PCR (molecular) test within 3-days (72 hours) of traveling to camp. The date you schedule for the test also depends on how quickly results can be obtained. Please find out now -- when and where you can obtain this test. Some communities limit test access for asymptomatic people. Best to find out now, and use your family doctor to assist if necessary to set up this test.

Following the test, it’s important to maintain isolation from outside exposures as much as possible, and when you have to interact outside the household, to wear a mask, hand-wash frequently, and distance. You can imagine that, though it's awkward, exposure inside the household to family members will require distancing, masking and hygiene, if anyone is having regular contact with those outside the household.

At last it will be time to head for Source Lake. Pathfinder families can travel their campers by air, camp private bus service or parent transport, as usual. Each mode will have some special measures recommended to ensure least possible chance for exposure before arrival at camp. Air travel, for example, is possible but will require great care at the departure airport, masking on the plane, and then Pathfinder staff will have a segregated, disinfected area at the airport for greeting our campers prior to private camp transport. Pathfinder motor coaches will be low-capacity and distanced in masks, with our staffing on board. Parent drop off's will involve a welcome screening at the camp mainland docks.

Closed Camp Bubble

On arrival at Pathfinder, campers will find we are a closed ‘bubble’ community for the summer sessions. Staff and Campers will be the camp family, with no parent, alumni, guest or tradesmen visits to the Island.

Camp staff will be having their time off on Source Lake and at various interior camping places in the neighboring interior, per Pathfinder requirements. No staff travel away from camp this year.

Campers and staff will be in cohort groups, within which they can forego masks and distancing. The cohorts will be formed within age groups, and consist of up to 12 campers and 6 staff. All people in a given cohort will be living in tents or lodges adjacent to each other.


The beauty of cohort living is that a group of campers and staff can live, eat, enjoy activities and head off on canoe trips, all without having to constantly mask and distance. Our cohort size is meant to be small enough to limit possible exposure, but large enough so that boys have plenty of staff on hand and can choose which friends to spend the most time on trips with. Cohorts will form around the small clusters of adjacent tents.

It will certainly be a pleasure for us to be able to live without masks within our cohorts. Overall, it's the quality of the pre-camp routine and test result that allows for this cohorting approach, advocated by Ontario Health and the CMOH. Another note: camp senior staff, managing the summer, and not living in camper cohorts, will form their own cohort, but will be masking and distancing both with each other and all other cohorts. This will prevent one of the more likely ways a random Covid exposure could be transmitted to others in camp, according to case studies and research in the U.S. and Canada in 2020.

Camp life will include some masking and distancing when interacting with friends in between cohorts. The guidelines on this practice when outdoors is every-changing to the good these days. Dining at camp will be spread out and include some outside meals to minimize crowd density in the Dining Hall, when camp is full. Once canoe trips start up, the camp size day to day will allow single meal seatings in the Dining Hall for a small in-camp community. We will eat with our cohort mates at meals. Daily program activities will be visited – Archery to Zip line – largely by cohort groups. And our famous canoe trips will be groups of boys and trip staff from within cohorts. On trips, cohort friends can live in trip tents, enjoy meals around the campfire, and generally be close to one another. A special effort will be made for outfitting, meal prep and washing up, with extra hygiene efforts. And cohort groups will have their own trip gear all session. See more below on canoe trips.

Health at Camp

Hygiene at Pathfinder will be of paramount importance, along with an enhanced health staff and health measures for this unique summer. We are fortunate, though, that a year's learning about Covid-19 has proven that transmission of virus is very unlikely through touching surfaces or preparation of meals.

Pathfinder will double up on our full time resident nursing staff, devote a tent line in camp to precautionary isolation living if needed, and conduct daily health screenings of everyone via their cohorts. Follow up testing soon after arrival, and at other times of summer, will be a feature of camp life this year, and the details on this approach are still evolving by the day in Ontario. We are lucky to be advised in this by our camp medical directors, who not only live with us on Source Lake in summers but are front and center as doctors in Toronto, helping lead in this country's pandemic response.

In-Camp Activity and Tripping

Campers and staff will really enjoy doing their camp sports and activities in cohort. That means no constant masking, and ‘normal’ life at swimming, canoeing, ropes course, archery, art, etc. We’ll be doing some exciting front-country day and overnight trips to cool sites around the Park. We will be seeking more fishing, human history hunting, bike and hike routes, and overlook treks to name a few.

Camp traditions are many at Pathfinder, and some will need modifications. Routines like Candy Line, Chapel, Council Fire will remain, but with some smart distancing. Your own folding camp chair will be a must this summer, since your hang-outs will be mobile around the island with your cohort crew.

Canoe tripping by cohort is a great solution. A cohort can set up 2-3 trip groups with the kids still having input on trip friends and routes, and off they go. For those of you in the know as past trip staff, outfitting will be by cohort reservation in the Trading Post. Gear will be assigned to cohorts for the session. The cohorted trip means we can maintain our trip tent and canoe boat partner traditions. We’ll naturally use special food handling and meal prep measures in the outfitting and on the trail. There's been great interest in Pathfinder signature AA trips, and how they will fare this season. These trip groups will be formed and cohorted immediately on arrival at base camp, to outfit and go. They'll be tested again before embarking on the big trips, and we'll have maximum confidence the groups are Covid-free once they embark.

Covid-Management at Camp

Anyone having the kind of routine symptoms that we see in any camp season, symptoms that could also be related to Covid-19, will isolate from their cohort in our health tent lodges, be cared for and tested by a health staffer, and cleared outright, or a positive test will require travel home to get well. The affected cohort will be segregated appropriately, tested and observed to ensure their negative status. Public Health will step in to work jointly with us at this point.

Daily communication on camp’s web site will update families at home on the health status of the camp. We’ll alert the whole community about healthy fun days, or in the event a cohort has a positive test, and then provide special information and guidance to family of affected members of that particular cohort. This permits us to keep people informed but honor privacy and avoid creating unnecessary anxiety. As always you can rely on open, complete communication from Pathfinder. Sladds and Mary remain a only a message or call away at all times. The PX office is as close as the phone, 705.633.5553.

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