Most people in Saskatchewan have had summer activities interrupted by a sudden thunderstorm, strong winds or even tornadoes.
The summer of 2020, however, will be like no other in recent history as the province continues its fight against the novel coronavirus.
Many annual events have been postponed or cancelled, including the Regina Folk Festival and Saskatoon’s Fringe Festival.
Decisions still to be made on others — like The Ex in Saskatoon and Country Thunder in Craven — but with mass gathering restrictions still in place, those are bound to be cancelled or postponed as well.
Local sports leagues are on hiatus as parks remain closed.
Keith Dobson, a clinical psychology professor at the University of Calgary, says the loss of these events will impact each person differently, but he expected it would intensify feelings of loss that are already emerging in many households.
He pointed to “the paradox” of warm weather coinciding with restrictions that limit our ability to enjoy the weather.
“In a season when we should be outside and enjoying ourselves we are going to be frustrated,” says Dobson, who fears that could push some people to break the guidelines.
That might not be the case in Saskatchewan after the province said restrictions are being lifted on some outdoor activities as part of its Reopening Saskatchewan plan.
Provincial parks reopen on May 4 for anglers, hikers and cyclists, golf courses can open on May 15, and overnight camping starts June 1.
Camping in Saskatchewan will be a different experience this year.
“We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to our parks, where they can naturally physical distance and enjoy the outdoors,” said Gene Makowsky, minister for parks, culture and sport.
“However, campers should be aware of numerous restrictions and understand that at least at first, camping will look different this year.”
All shared facilities and recreational areas — including pools, beaches and playgrounds — will remain closed, and the use of parks is restricted to Saskatchewan residents.
Brian Lee, executive director of Golf Saskatchewan, said opening courses is a positive step.
“Golfers typically own their equipment; you play your own golf ball. You can play with others or by yourself,” Lee said.
Lee said that while golfing is a social activity, it can be done with others while maintaining safe physical distancing.
“It can be done in a safe manner under the COVID-19 pandemic times.”
Darrell Crabbe, the executive director of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, said the same applies to fishing.
“Angling is one of the activities that you strive very hard to make sure you’re nowhere near anyone else,” Crabbe said.
“It’s a perfect activity to distance yourself from everybody but still get outside and have some fun.”
Crabbe said the lifting of some restrictions is a good start in returning to some sort of normalcy and allow people to enjoy the outdoors.
“We have seen a lot of people have, throughout this whole process, taken advantage of going and doing things like geocaching, yet at the same time you’re able to get out into the outdoors,” he said.
“The ability of people, and with the weather, to get outside and go for a hike or go fishing or boating is just ideal.
“There’s very little possibility you’re going to have any issues with keeping distance from anybody else.”
Dobson acknowledges that the notion of summer in general holds an outsized place in the hearts of many adults because it is a frequent backdrop for some of life’s sweetest memories — graduations, weddings, family road trips, cottage barbecues and team championships.
He cautions parents against letting nostalgia colour their expectations for summer 2020, especially if they had hoped to forge similar memories with their own children this year.
“Parents have to be really careful not to grieve publicly in front of their children,” says Dobson, also a researcher for the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
He stresses the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule, good eating habits and a daily routine to stave off boredom and frustration.
Dobson also points to an array of online social events that have emerged to address dwindling public events, such as livestreamed music concerts and virtual running races.
Look for opportunities to create memories in new ways, Dobson suggests, and don’t wallow in what might have been.
Many kids are already great at this, he adds.
“What they can remember, hopefully, is the positive time spent with their parents in the summer of 2020.”
— With files from Jonathan Guignard and The Canadian PressView link »