For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
– Psalm 100:5
Dear Camp and Retreat Families,
We write to you today in the midst of one of the most challenging time our camping community has faced. Upper New York Camp and Retreat ministries has transformed the lives of campers, participants, guests, staff, and volunteers for over 75 years. Each generation of a camp and retreat community sees a blend of change, tradition, challenge, and celebration. Even now, God’s steadfast love extends to us as we adapt to the situation of our world.
After much prayer and careful consideration, the Camp and Retreat Ministries Staff with support from the Committee have made the challenging decision to suspend our summer programs at all UNY sites–Aldersgate, Asbury, Casowasco, Sky Lake, and Skye Farm for the 2020 season. This includes traditional summer camp, Express Mini programs, and Special Needs Programs.
This decision is difficult and unprecedented. We truly believe that camp provides a unique opportunity for people to experience the transforming love of God in the context of Christian community, and it saddens us greatly to lose that opportunity this summer. Fundamental to our camp and retreat communities, however, is a devoted commitment to the safety of all who set foot on our sites. A safe environment allows for social, emotional, and spiritual growth as campers choose to take on challenges.
As we have considered guidelines from the American Camp Association, the CDC, and the New York State Department of Health that begin to lay out what social distancing, PPE, sanitization, and quarantine protocols would need to be in place in order for summer programs to run. We have come to understand that these measures would force new challenges on campers and staff and would not allow for the kind of nurturing environment on which our programs rely. Members of our communities who have a higher health risk would not be able to enter our environment at all.
Even with these new protocols in place, health and safety is not something we can confidently provide this summer in the context of the pandemic. While our staff are trained and have the experience to keep our community safe during normal camp activities, we are not all trained medical professionals. Even with our best efforts, the risk to our communities is too great. The decision to suspend summer programs was made to protect not only our campers and staff, but every guest, volunteer, parent, sibling, and grandparent who is connected to our larger community.
Those who have already registered and made a payment toward a program will be contacted by their individual site by the end of next week to discuss their options going forward. The three options are:
While UNY summer program will not be running this year, this won’t be the last you’ll hear from us! All our sites are diligently working on plans for the summer, taking into consideration new updates on low-risk outdoor recreation opportunities from New York State, regional re-opening guidelines, and the ways in which our facilities and staff can continue to serve our communities. Updates from each site will continue to be shared both by email and on social media.
We know this is disappointing news and we share in your disappointment. This summer will look like no summer any of our sites has ever seen before, and the loss of summer program for this year has already begun to cause our hearts to grieve. But God’s steadfast love and faithfulness extends to our communities just as it has to all generations before us, and just as it will to the generations of happy campers for years to come. We draw now on God’s strength as we make the choice to keep our communities as safe as possible, and we pray every day for the health and wellbeing of every member of our wide network of Upper New York families. We are so grateful for the love and support we receive from you and will do all we can to love and support you in whatever ways we can during this time. We can’t wait to see you all again: safe, happy, and healthy.
The Camp & Retreat Ministries Staff and Committee