Suspension of Summer Programs

Dear Bear Creek Community,

We write today with news that we never expected to write. After more than two months of learning, prayer, and contingency planning, and in light of guidelines issued as part of the Governor’s phased reopening plans, the Bear Creek Camp Board of Directors made the difficult decision to suspend our 2020 summer camp program.

Every summer since 1974, BCC has provided enriching experiences that inspire individuals, families, and communities to explore, celebrate and grow in God’s creation. While our community is a global one and our mission is realized beyond our summer camp programs, gathering together among the woods and creeks at the end of the red dirt road is at the core of who we are. Losing that for this summer is painful.

An incredible amount of research, thought, and care went into this decision. We received information and support from public health authorities, the American Camp Association, and Lutheran Outdoor Ministries. In the Board’s unanimous vote, three core rationales stood out:

1. Safety- if we opened for Summer 2020, could we meet the high standard of safety to which we hold ourselves and is expected by our camp families? While summer camp as we know it involves some risks, our industry knows how to manage those risks as guided by the American Camp Association of which we are an accredited member. We cannot confidently mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19 in the next 3 months – too much is still unknown.

2. Experience- even if we could open and large group gatherings are permitted, would the experience resemble the summer camp you know and love? Could we sing together at the opening bonfire? Could we dine together? Could we join hands in the circle at the end of the Thursday night dance? We believe the safe socializing recommendations and practices will negatively impact the camp experience that so many identify as having the feeling of a second home or the place where they feel safest.

3. Inclusion- the available guidance from public health authorities and the ACA calls for camps to exclude campers who are immunocompromised, campers who are cared for by older individuals, and campers that come from high-risk communities. Bear Creek Camp’s mission statement calls us to “embrace the inclusion of all.” Excluding certain campers so that others might join together is counter to who we are as a community.

This decision is sure to raise many questions for campers, families, and community members. One of the most concrete concerns is about fees already paid for this year’s summer camp. The short answer is that all payments made for Summer 2020 may be refunded in full, rolled forward to future programs, or offered as a donation to BCC (partially or in full). We will reach out to registered camper families directly about these options. This is a new process for us, and will take a few days to work through – thank you in advance for your continued patience.

Suspending camp will have serious financial consequences for Bear Creek Camp. We are so grateful for those who have already donated and helped to ensure that our mission will live on through and beyond this time. You can give now at bearcreekcamp.org/donate.

Whatever your relationship to Bear Creek Camp, there is a feeling of loss. We feel it too- BCC is a vital part of all our lives, and we never imagined we would see a summer without camp. We hope you will join us again for Summer 2021 and as we are able, we will be exploring every possible avenue for on-site opportunities in the near future.

Our summer theme verse from Psalm 100 feels more fitting now than ever before. “For the Lord is good; God’s steadfast love endures forever, and God’s faithfulness to all generations.” We love this community and this place and cannot wait to welcome you home to Bear Creek Camp again soon.

In Christ,

Larry Williams- President, Board of Directors
Collin Grooms- Executive Director



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