No kids at Camp Miriam during 2020 summer

Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Sounder News

Wednesday, July 15 2020

Camp Miriam will be a little quieter this summer.

The Jewish overnight camp on Berry Point Road will not hold programming on Gabriola due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the organization is running day camps in Vancouver and Victoria as well as virtual programs, said Trilby Smith, board chair for the Camp Miriam organization.

In a season that usually has two sets of 150-70 campers in attendance for three-week visits, Trilby said the board will take the summer as an opportunity to catch up on maintenance to the swimming pool, arts and crafts room and tent platforms. A small number of staff will also attend a retreat at the end of July.

“For them, it’s hard to be away from Gabriola,” Trilby said.

By transitioning to new programming models, Camp Miriam has managed to keep many of their roughly 70 staff employed.

“Miriam is in a fairly fortunate position,” Trilby said. “We’ve done fundraising over our 70 years and we have a little bit of reserve.… We’ll certainly run at a deficit [but] it won’t be fatal for us. We’re still optimistic that we’ll be able to recover for this year.”

The inability to have a regular camp season is particularly disappointing this year, said Trilby, addressing the discovery of anti-Semitic graffiti on the Camp Miriam property in December. Gabriolans organized a vigil at the camp shortly after.

“It’s ironic in a sense because we felt so much love and support,” said Trilby. 

“We were really looking forward to being on Gabriola.” 

In February, board members met with the Islands Trust to discuss establishing partnerships in the community. 

Trilby said they want to “find ways to express the gratitude that we have.” For now, that’s on the back burner, but Trilby remains hopeful next summer will be a new chapter.