Summer Camps seek to find their way through pandemic
Camp Cross opts with keeping people safe
In a May 19 video and letter to members of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane and Camp Cross alumni and registrants, Bishop Gretchen Rehberg announced she had cancelled camp sessions at Camp Cross on the western shore of Lake Coeur d'Alene for the summer because of the pandemic.
"Camp Cross has been a vital part of this diocese since its beginning in 1923, and it is a premier formation immersion opportunity, not only for our children and youth, but also for our adults," she said in an earlier announcement.
While plans were underway for the summer's programming and expanded offerings, leaders began discerning how to safely hold camp and what would happen if there was still a stay-at-home order.
In conversations with Canon John Palarine, camp director, Skip Hubbard, business and facilities manager, the camp nurse, and camp teams around the country, the bishop had hoped to have a "robust" summer at camp.
Gretchen committed to follow Christ's command to love one another while also following guidelines of local, state and federal health districts and officials.
"We want to be part of the solution to this pandemic, not contribute to the problem," she said.
The question of how to safely hold Camp Cross sessions came up many times. Information was ever changing. Initially, the diocese decided to delay the start of camp, hoping that by July the situation would be better.
On May 19, the bishop wrote: "Every generation has its seminal events, days and times that will never be forgotten, times with impact beyond a day or season."
She remembers where she was when the Challenger exploded, the Berlin Wall came down, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place.
"Every generation and person has times that are joyous, and times full of disappointment," Gretchen said. "The question is how we respond.
"We are currently living in such a time, a global pandemic, and so much of what we experience as normal life has been disrupted. We are not in our congregations worshiping together," she said.
There is much stress as families do school at home, people lose jobs, businesses close, medical personnel struggle and people are uncertain what is next.
"In the midst of this, we are followers of Jesus, called to continue to walk together in the way of love. Our call is to always act in ways that show love of God and love of neighbor," she said. "As bishop, the guiding principle behind my guidelines are that all of our actions be loving towards our neighbor."
While the decision not to open Camp Cross this summer was "heartbreaking," she said her times at the camp had been part of the happiest and most formative of her life, as is true for generations of campers from this diocese and beyond.
She and the other staff decided it was impossible to offer the programming and fellowship the camp experience entails.
Talking of health and safety changes, too many aspects central to campers' experiences—singing, worship, eating in community, sharing in sacred circles and small groups, playing games, enjoying the waterfront activities—were being stripped away and changed in ways that would negatively impact the experience.
So Camp Cross joined other camps on Lake Coeur d'Alene and across the United States who made the hard but necessary decision to not open this summer.
Summer staff will still work on camp facilities and do leadership formation. John and Skip said they are thinking about "what's next."
Gretchen invited prayers for the campers, counselors and staff who will have a different summer than they anticipated, including those from other camps on the lake and around our country.
"Camp Cross is not simply a location on McDonald Point, Lake Coeur d'Alene. It is a way of being, a way of offering the love of God to all, a way of creating a community of love. We might not have camp sessions this summer, but Camp Cross still exists and continues in new ways," she said.
"This year will be a year we will never forget. It will change us," she said. "Let us make sure that it is a change for the better, so all we do may be in service and show love of God and love of neighbor."
This is the first season it has not operated a summer program for the diocese's 32 churches from the Cascades of Washington through North Idaho.
Those who registered will be contacted about their registration.
For information, call 624-3191 or visit campcross.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, June, 2020