May 25, 2020
Dear Friends of Timberline Ranch,
It is with great sadness we announce that all summer camps have been cancelled. It is devastating, and we are heart-broken, especially because we know how many of you will be heart-broken as well.
Based on the direction of Dr. Bonnie Henry and the BC Camps Association, we have made the difficult decision to suspend and cancel all programs through August 31, 2020.
It has been a difficult two months for all of us, and it has been no different at Timberline. From cancelling our Spring Day Camp halfway through, to seeing all of our spring guest groups cancelled, to laying off most of our staff members, and now having to cancel summer camps, it is almost too much to bear.
Over the past number of days, after receiving news that overnight camps will not be allowed to run in BC, we have debated whether or not we can re-imagine summer under COVID and run some kind of day camps within the allowances and protocols given to us by our government. Unfortunately, we have determined that we are unable to do so. Although we have a very creative and talented team, it came down to three primary factors:
- The risk is too high. We had to ask ourselves, what is the acceptable number of children or adults contracting the virus at Timberline? The answer, of course, is none. If just one person caught it at Timberline, that could mean major health consequences and even death of a child or family member. That would be catastrophic. Although the chances of it happening may be relatively low, the consequences are far too high.
- It wouldn’t be “camp.” Camp is all about building relationships and being part of a community. It is about the freedom of running, playing, exploring, making new friends, and trying new activities. However, with the protocols required to run any kind of day camp program, our staff would be wearing masks, strict measures on movement would be in place, many of our activities could not be run at all, and other activities would have to be dramatically altered. We are not convinced that it would feel like camp or be effective in giving children an excellent camp experience. With sweeping adaptations, we might be able to meet the requirements for “daycare,” but it wouldn’t be “camp.”
- There are still too many unknown factors. Although the “numbers” are easing in BC at this moment, we don’t know where those will be once things start opening up again. Also, with all this new information coming out about COVID’s effect on children, we can’t be confident that it will be safe for children to gather together. Furthermore, the protocols and standards keep shifting, and we don’t know if we would even be able to meet those standards by the time camps would start.
In the end, we had to ask ourselves, is the “reward” worth the “risk” to Timberline and all the people who love this place? Although it feels devastating for our campers and staff, we do not believe the benefits of running camps nearly outweigh the potential costs.
Therefore, as of today, for the protection of our campers, staff, and families of both staff and campers, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel all summer programs.
For those who are registered for a summer camp, there are a few things we need to let you know:
- We have already invested tens of thousands of dollars into your summer camp experience. From hiring and training staff, to upgrading facilities, to keeping horses on throughout the winter, to paying credit card fees, licenses, insurance, and staff costs, we will be entering summer with a deficit of well over $100,000 so far this year. Over 90% of our budget is based on camper fees. We would appreciate any help you can give.
- We will refund all or part of your fees, whatever you prefer. ***Please complete this form to help us process your refund.*** We will need one form for each registered camper, both for day camps and for overnight camps.
- You may also choose to forward your fees (or a deposit) to next year. If you choose, we can pre-register you for next year, guaranteeing your spot in next summer’s programs at this year’s prices. This will also help our cash-flow for the next few months.
- Please wait patiently for your refund. We have over 1200 refunds to issue, and it will take time! The goal will be to get this all done in the next 2-3 weeks, but you can imagine the amount of work this will require.
For those who would like to help Timberline get through these difficult months with no revenue, donations are gratefully accepted. With 46 horses, several petting zoo animals, and a small staff to look after the animals and facilities, it is costing over $30,000 per month to keep going. We know this is tough on families as well, so please only donate if you can afford to do so.
Again, we are greatly saddened for all of our campers, families, volunteers, and staff members who were looking forward to being at Timberline this summer. We value all of you, and we will do our best in the coming months to improve Timberline and prepare for the day in the not-to-distant-future when we will open again and get back to doing, with excellence, the things we love to do.
Holding the Faith,