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Sudbury Canoe Club youth programs sold out for the summer

The good news for the Sudbury Canoe Club is that the long-standing local traditional summer venue is offering some programming for kids through the months of July and August.

The bad news, at least for parents of children starving for a chance to get out and participate in something, anything, is that the SCC is also completely sold out, as they adjust their curriculum in light of the current pandemic.

"The club is open, but we've reduced several things," noted SCC vice-commodore Dan Welch last week. "There will be no guests this year. We've eliminated sign in books, so there is no touching required of pens and paper."

All members have been provided a fob, with electronically recorded access to the equipment storage facilities. "Procedures call for all equipment to be washed (after being used)," said Welch. "We have washing stations because our sprint team uses them - we've just repurposed them."

"If you have used our life jacket, it must go through a vat and sit for a day. We received direction from Canoe Kayak Canada, from the province, from the local health unit on our procedures."

"There are no team boats this summer, with the sprint canoes, because there is not six feet of spacing," stated Welch, who added that regular canoes are still in use, given the greater than six foot distancing between the paddlers.

The entry level Canoe Kids program has been reduced from 22 registrants to 15, allowing for a 5/1 ratio with three counsellors on hand, with classes set to begin the final week of June.

The Learn to Race sessions will welcome 10 to 15 kids, fully spaced out. "This is for the kids who have graduated from Canoe Kids and want to get into racing," said Welch. "Most of those kids have been provided with a life-jacket, for their own use, for the summer."

The sprint canoe racing team, now under the guidance of Helen Savin, is running with slightly higher numbers than the average of 25 or so that Welch had grown accustomed to over several years of coaching, though he indicated that he had seen it vary anywhere from ten to 31 during his tenure.

And while nothing is cast in stone at this point, Welch noted that the Sudbury Canoe Club has been approached by the provincial governing body about the possibility of running a small regatta, subject to full COVID-compliant guidelines, late in the summer.

The idea would be to bring together athletes from North Bay, Collingwood and Carleton Place, with racers timed individually to allow for the required distancing. "It's a lot of work, and right now, our volunteer core is strained," he said.

"But there is a one thousand metre course that runs from Science North bay to the pump-house, with stainless steel anchored wire that runs underneath the lake."

And in a summer like this, almost any little bit of good news is welcomed.

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