Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Jardin Éducatif cancels summer camp

CALEB NICKERSON
LITCHFIELD May 21, 2020 
On May 21, the  Jardin Éducatif du Pontiac put out a press release announcing that they would be cancelling their summer day camp for the 2020 season. 
Program coordinator Martin Riopel said that they had been waiting until directives from the provincial government regarding summer camps were released, which happened on Thursday. He said that the increased distancing measures would mean additional costs for transportation, as well as equipment, since the children wouldn’t be able to share tools. Also, they would need additional space to accommodate nearly 30 children they host every summer. 
“We’ve got water on site, we can clean our hands, but the shelter is not big enough to welcome four or five kids,” he explained. “We needed to invest money in the site itself to be able to run the summer camp.”
He added that some of his employees that supervise and mentor the children had some difficulties getting child care during the summer months as well, which contributed to the decision to cancel. 
Riopel said that despite the summer camp being cancelled, the garden, located along Hwy. 148 in Litchfield, would still be productive throughout that time period. 
“The garden itself and the summer camp program are two different things,” he explained. “We start the garden earlier in the year, so I already have my gardener that’s been working for the past two months, seeding and everything, we have all the plants in the basement of our school, ready to be planted.”
“We’ll just increase our [square footage] of vegetable production to give more to the food bank and to be able to sell more vegetables,” he continued, noting that they would be able to hire some students with the help of the Canada summer jobs program. “We’re going to be able to hire four persons from 15 to 30 years old. Some of these persons might be some old kids from our program, or couldn’t have access to our program.”
He said that they would be looking at modifying their space in order to comply with the government regulations, in the case that they are still in effect next summer. 
“It’s a sad decision to make, we’re sorry about that, but we’re going to try as much as we can to upgrade the garden side to be able to welcome kids next year even if we still have the pandemic going on,” he said. “It’s just a matter of being able to prepare.”