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 ____ www.camppathfinder.com Facebook: CPI – Camp Pathfinder Algonquin Park Facebook: CampPathfinder Instagram: @camppathfinder
OCA Press Release - May 19, 2020