Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group (better known as GNAG) is relaunching summer

Mary Tsai
GNAG Executive Director

The sound of laughing children is livening up the Glebe Community Centre again with GNAG summer camps finally underway after a pandemic delay.

On July 13, exactly four months since our closure, GNAG re-opened its doors to kids attending summer camps. The building looks a lot different. Plexiglass has been installed at the front desk, there are social-distancing dots on the floor and signs about how to prevent COVID-19 are plastered on the walls. The doors are still locked as we are still technically closed to the public. Only campers and staff are permitted inside.

Despite all the changes, it feels great and normal to have summer camp back at GNAG. There is nothing like the sound of happy children laughing and playing. Seeing their smiling faces (or happy eyes when their face masks are on) is a joy. A big thank you to the incredible staff, kids and parents for making summer camp seamless and fun again!

It was March 13 when GNAG closed its doors to the public due to COVID-19. As for most businesses, it happened unexpectedly and quickly. The result was the sudden cancellation of March Break camps, a community theatre production of Sound of Music, a Sustainable Fashion Showcase fundraiser, two youth dances, before and afterschool care, spring programs and summer day camps.  Most difficult for me was the layoff of 200-plus part-time staff and contractors, the loss of our clients and the eerie quiet of a deserted community centre.

Who was that masked hero? Why, the GNAG summer team, of course! PHOTO: Courtesy of GNAG

Thanks to the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program, GNAG was able maintain employment for 10 full-time staff and one contractor during the closure.

While working from home, this core team continued to work tirelessly to put together 35 to 40 online classes each week to help keep our clients and staff (who were on emergency leave) engaged, entertained, healthy and connected.

By mid-June, Ontario announced Phase 2, which allowed certain businesses to reopen. With the assistance from CEWS, GNAG was able hire a handful of students so we could offer modified in-person summer day camps for families in need of care and social activities for their children.

We had a little over two weeks to prepare. This entailed creating and implementing a comprehensive COVID-19 plan, hiring and training summer staff, coming up with creative social distancing activities that are age appropriate, safe and fun and administration of daily health screening. Adding to the challenge was the need to get enough PPE and sanitizing products during a shortage.

We have been able to offer six summer camps/cohorts a week with a maximum of eight children in each cohort. We never thought we would see the day when we would be offering camps to only 48 children a week as opposed to the 350 to 400 children a week we are used to.

As we move into Phase 3, our team continues to work on next steps for offering in-person programs like the before and afterschool care, fitness and wellness classes, interest courses and special events. We are excited about recovering our business, but we are also extremely cautious. There will be new safety protocols in place to ensure everyone’s safety and enjoyment. The protocols will be posted on our website very soon.

We understand many are still not ready to come back to GNAG for in-person programs so we will continue to offer online programs as well.

A listing of all in-person and online programs will be available on our website by September 8, and registration will begin September 14.

Updates on Breakfast Club and Quest-4-Fun will be announced soon. Registrants for 2019-20 will be notified directly. Our website will be updated as soon as possible.

Employment opportunities
GNAG is looking for mature, enthusiastic candidates who possess strong leadership, communication and organizational skills along with “job specific” qualifications for the before-school in-person program. Please send your resume to info@gnag.ca by August 31– outline your experience, education and availability, and include at least two references. We are also looking for positive, experienced and inspiring tutors in all subjects for children in grades one to 12. Tutoring programs are online only. Complete details regarding the job postings are available on our website gnag.ca under Careers.

GNAG Annual General Meeting
GNAG invites the community to their Annual General Meeting, Wednesday, September 30 at 7 p.m. This public meeting will be hosted online. Please register for your spot at GNAG.ca.

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