Camp News

Diversity and Inclusion Commitment Update

09/24

As previously shared, The Bear Creek Camp Board of Directors is fully committed to embracing the inclusion of all by continuing to lean into our mission. While our journey may not be exactly as previously stated, we are excited to take the next steps as an organization to formally announce our participation in an upcoming program, Total Inclusion!

This program is a collaborative effort between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Lutheran Outdoor Ministries (LOM), Total Inclusion! is an opportunity to inspire, educate and provide resources to camps, like BCC, as they move toward a wider and more intentional inclusion of people who historically have been marginalized in the church – especially people of color, people with disabilities, and people who identify as LGBTQIA+.

Throughout the remainder of 2020 and into 2021 and 2022, Bear Creek Camp staff and members of the board of directors will be participating in a series of educational components relating to the areas of diversity mentioned above. Within that process, we will be identifying areas for further education and growth and identifying actions that can be taken specifically within our organization to become more inclusive and welcoming while having organized support, funding, and training.

We look forward to sharing more with our community as we journey together throughout this process. You can learn more about Total Inclusion! at https://elca.org/totalinclusion



Suspension of Summer Programs

06/03

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



Summer Camp Schedule Update

05/06

Right now, we’re all doing new and unusually hard things. The current COVID-19 situation is fluid and changing daily. It’s testing our adaptability and our patience, and we imagine it’s testing yours as well.

The Bear Creek Camp Board of Directors has reached the difficult decision to delay the start of summer camp. The earliest that summer camp could start is July 5th. This was not an easy decision, but was made after much research, conversation, input from our BCC community, and prayerful discernment with the safety, health, and well-being of our campers and their families as our top priority. This decision does not eliminate the possibility for ministry opportunities later in the summer and we remain hopeful for a summer of exploration, celebration, and growth in God’s creation.

If you currently have a camper registered for camp prior to July 5th (Sessions 1, 2, & 3, including Family Camp and Nature Day Camp), please wait with us. As we are given guidance from the American Camp Association and the Centers for Disease Control over the next few weeks, we will determine the plan for the remainder of the summer. The Board of Directors will continue to meet regularly and will make a decision regarding July and August opportunities by June 1. At that point, we will provide to our already registered families more details about registrations and the summer schedule. We commit to ensuring that every camper who is already registered will have the opportunity to come to camp or will be able to receive a full refund for any fees already paid.

This summer may not look like all the summers that have come before or any of the summers that will come after. What we do know is that camp plays a vital role in the lives of campers, their families, staff and alumni. Our mission and core values remain unchanged.

As more decisions are made, we will continue to provide updates through e-mail, www.bearcreekcamp.org, and Facebook (Bear Creek Camp). Of course, if you have questions or concerns before then, please reach out. We appreciate your prayerful support, just as we continue to pray for all of you.

In Christ,

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