All remaining weeks for Camp McCall, Camp LaVida, SummerSalt and KidSalt in July and August have been cancelled because of continued coronavirus concerns, directors of the four South Carolina Baptist Convention camps announced May 29.
“It is with a heavy heart the South Carolina Baptist Convention and the South Carolina WMU announce the suspension of all 2020 summer camps,” their statement on the SCBC website said. “This difficult decision reflects the understanding that safety must take precedence over programming.”
Camp registrants can arrange for their registration to be refunded or be applied to fees for the 2021 camping season.
“The SCBC and the SC WMU are grateful for the support from South Carolina Baptist churches, and look forward to enjoying an incredible 2021 camp season,” the statement added.
The following story, which appears in our June issue, was published prior to the cancellation announcement.
Summer Camps Hoping Season Resumes in July
McCall, LaVida and SummerSalt — the South Carolina Baptist Convention’s summer camps for children and youth — have made difficult decisions to postpone the start of their summer programs but remained hopeful camps can resume a normal schedule come July. The FUGE camps held on the campuses of two SCBC’s universities, however, have been canceled.
The decisions, of course, were primarily driven by safety concerns related to the potential spread of coronavirus among campers and camp staff, and for their families and churches that they will be returning to after camp ends. SCBC leadership was expected to reconvene May 27 to make a decision regarding the remainder of the camping season.
“In the meantime, we are planning that the rest of the summer will proceed as planned and re-examining every aspect of camp to see if we can safely continue,” Matt “Spinner” Allen, director of Camp McCall, told The Courier in early May.
The Centers for Disease Control, in conjunction with the American Camping Association, are writing a series of guide-lines geared specifically toward summer camps. McCall, LaVida and SummerSalt will be utilizing their interpretations of these recommendations when making decisions about camp and safety protocols, said Cindy Skelton, director of Camp LaVida.
For most of May, however, the camps have been in a bit of a holding pattern, Allen said.
“The impact [of the coronavirus] has been upsetting, but not defeating,” said Bryant Laird, associate director of student ministry for the SCBC, which coordinates SummerSalt camps.
“As we’ve talked with our staff about the adjustments we’ve had to make, there has been a sense of disappointment,” he said. “Without question, we love working with and serving the local church, and to not have the opportunity to serve a full summer is frustrating.
“However, as we’ve talked, it’s become apparent that our staff is fully confident in the Lord, His sovereignty, and His plan to see the next generation reached by the hope of the gospel,” Laird added. “It just might not look like what we are used to seeing.”
All three SCBC camp directors were still holding out hope that they would be able to provide a camp experience for churches who are signed up for camp weeks in July or August.
The first two weeks of Crossroads Summer Camp on the Anderson University campus also were canceled, and its tentative start date was moved to June 29, said Tucker Ficklin, communications coordinator for Clayton King Ministries, which sponsors the Crossroads camp.
“We, as believers, have a responsibility to be vigilant and responsible for the sake of our family, friends, community, nation, and world. However, we do not believe that we are meant to carry the burden of worry and fear that many are saying that we should,” a statement on Crossroads’ website notes. “The well-being of Crossroads Summer Camp attendees and community is our utmost priority,” the statement adds.
LifeWay Christian Resources announced May 15 that FUGE, StudentLife, Student Life for Kids and CentriKid camp sessions for 2020 have been canceled because of continued concerns stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes the summer camp weeks at North Greenville and Charleston Southern universities. Groups registered for a 2020 camp may transfer deposits to a 2021 camp registration.
“While we are disappointed, we know this is the right decision to ensure the health and safety of all participants,” Ben Trueblood, director of students at LifeWay. “We know God uses camps to impact the lives of kids and students in incredible ways, and we are looking forward to serving churches through our camps ministry in 2021.”
Concoxions Ministries already had made a decision earlier not to do Seesalt student conferences this summer. “That was a difficult thing to do, but we are very thankful that we are not having to wrestle with all the logistics of what to do and what not to do with Seesalt this summer,” said Director Bill Cox.
“But even without that major concern, the impact [of the coronavirus] has been huge,” Cox said. “We usually stay busy during the spring with speaking engagements, training, and especially doing ‘Art to Heart’ productions (special-effects chalk drawing, dramatic monologues, music) for churches and other ministries. With so much uncertainty, we don’t know when we’ll resume getting invitations to do any of the things we do for churches and other ministries.”