Camp News

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



Our Continued Response to COVID-19

04/02

As our world goes through unprecedented times, we have been thinking about you and dreaming of welcoming your children and families to camp. Our year-round staff, summer staff, and board of directors have been praying- praying for our collective health, safety, and happiness; praying that this will resolve well and quickly so we can return together to our home away from home this summer.

As camp leadership, we have an obligation to prepare responsibly for the summer of 2020 and to communicate with you about those plans. While our plans are evolving and ever-changing, we want to share with you both where we stand today and some insight into our approach. While we are never able to know what the future holds, and this feels more apparent now than ever, we have always been committed to maintaining the mission of Bear Creek Camp of strengthening individuals and communities through experiences of exploration, celebration, and growth in God’s creation.

One of the most helpful resources I’ve found during this time has been some tips from psychologist Doreen Marshall for taking care of personal mental health in the face of uncertainty:
• Separate what is in your control from what is not.
• Challenge yourself to stay in the present.
• Stay connected and reach out if you need more support.
• Get outside in nature.

I’d like to use the tips above to frame the following information about the summer.

Separate what is in your control from what is not.

Will Summer Camp at Bear Creek Camp happen this summer?

We certainly hope so! We hope for the best, and still we realize that we must simultaneously plan for a variety of scenarios. We’re utilizing the best information we have from government sources, Lutheran Outdoor Ministries and the American Camp Association. At this point, we feel there are enough reasons to continue to plan for the summer together. If permitted to proceed, we know the summer of 2020 will be the most important camp season in our children’s lives. New levels of stress, anxiety, and lack of social connections will necessitate the genuine face-to-face interactions, time in the outdoors, silly fun, and community that only camp can provide.

Challenge yourself to stay in the present.

One of the most important skills we learn and teach at Bear Creek Camp is the ability to think on our feet and plan for the unexpected. So while we continue to be present, we are also strategizing around a variety of possible outcomes for the summer.
• If we need to start late, we will make every effort to adjust.
• If we need to run a shorter season, we will make every effort to adjust.
• If we need to adapt specific programming (such as off-site trips), we will adjust.
• If camp must be canceled or we need to make changes to our summer program, we will work to rebuild BCC looking forward to the fall, winter, and spring retreat season and summer 2021.
• If public authorities permit us to hold camp at a time when regular life has resumed, but the virus is not completely contained, we will exhaust all efforts and resources to implement the best medical practices to keep our campers and families safe.

Stay connected and reach out if you need more support.

Cultivating community is one of the most cherished values of Bear Creek Camp. Having only been here a few months, I have seen for myself that while community is important during the time here at camp, these life-long friendships are even stronger beyond the camp gates. We are here for you and your family. Connect with us, share how we can support you and your family.

Thank you for your on-going partnership. We will continue to share more as we know more. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.

Your opinions, thoughts, and ideas matter; please get in touch with whatever is on your mind. I hope you all have some opportunity to Get outside in nature and I look forward to when we can all do that together here at BCC.

In Christ,

Collin Grooms
Executive Director