Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Adventist summer camps have cancelled their usual programming. However, some organizations have decided to continue with their ministries as states start to reopen and lift stay-at-home orders.
According to an article published in May by the North American Division, out of the 61 camps that usually take place, only nine are attempting to continue in some sort of way. However, as reported by the Association of Adventist Camp Professionals, only eight camps are currently working to have some version of summer camp.
“We gave each conference and each camp the option to host or not,” said Tracy Woods, Camp Ministries Director for the North American Division. “Of course we want everyone to benefit from the blessing that is summer camp, but we also want to ensure that both campers and staff are healthy.”
Out of the eight active summer camps, only two have taken an online approach — including Nosoca Pines Ranch in South Carolina and Camp Yorktown Bay in Arkansas. However, the online approach is different even between the two camps.
For Nosoca, camp will consist of content and video creation that will be sent to registered campers via email. Whereas for Yorktown Bay, camp will consist of “Virtual Cabins” in which registered campers will be placed with people within their age groups and participate in Zoom meetings and guided Pathfinder activities in order to encourage interaction among other children. For both camps, however, the online approach means limited staff, which ensures the reinforcement of social distancing rules.
The six remaining camps have responded by rescheduling their usual activities to later dates, these being Camp Au Sable in Michigan, Camp Alamisco in Alabama, Camp Ida-Haven and Camp Mivoden in Idaho, Camp Pugwash in Canada and Valley Vista Camp in West Virginia. Each camp has made special adjustments according to CDC guidelines.
For example, Camp Alamisco has opted to group campers in “Family Pods.” According to its website, the Pods will consist of small groups of campers who will be placed together upon arrival and will do all activities together. This alternative was chosen in order to minimize contact among campers but ensure they can interact with other people. Along with these measures, Camp Alamisco, as well as others, have quarantined its staff for a two or three week period in order to ensure the safety of all campers and other staff.
The six camps who are still hosting their regular activities have postponed their beginning dates until the month of July and early August.