Summer Camps seek to find their way through pandemic
Methodists already offering virtual camp fires
Alan Rogstad, executive director of the camping program for the Pacific Northwest United Methodist Church (UMC) camps, said that leaders have made the hard decision to cancel the programs at its four camps: Camp Indianola on the Kitsap Peninsula, Ocean Park Camp at Long Beach, Lazy F Camp near Ellensburg and Twinlow Camp on Spirit Lake near Rathdrum, Idaho.
Virtual camps are already underway, however, on Youtube and Facebook, with campfires and singing at Indianola, Ocean Park and Twinlow. Lazy F has an introduction of staff.
Twinlow has also had virtual day camp stories and crafts for nine weeks.
Alan said that 50 to 275 campers follow the videos—hopefully singing along in isolation.
"It's a way we can continue to connect. We send emails to constituents to let them know, and we hope families are watching them together online," he said.
Alan said they had looked at opening with the American Camping Association guidelines, and following the local health departments, but realized the programs would have to be altered with small groups not interacting much, mostly outdoor activities, limited housing capacity, small cabin groups and eating outside—all keeping social distancing in mind.
"It's devastating that we can't do what we usually do. We love camp, knowing its impact on kids, giving families a break, and offering spiritual growth," Alan said.
Plans are still on for providing retreats and perhaps some limited programs later in the summer as restrictions allow.
"We are looking at safe alternatives to our traditional programs," he said. "For now, we will continue to develop virtual camping experiences.
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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, June, 2020