Dear Camp Family,

Your interest, support, and prayers these past three months have been life-giving as we've studied the pandemic and adapted all manner of camp operations in an attempt to mitigate the multitude of obstacles to opening camp safely this summer.

As we’ve shared in each of our previous emails, the safety of our campers and staff is paramount in all we do in our camping ministries. A close second to camper safety is maintaining and honoring your trust of our camp family – new members and old. We know – because we’ve been told – that if camp says it’s safe, people will believe us. And because we’ve been trusted by our camper families since 1925, we’re not going to base our decisions on what is expedient, but on that which will keep us in close relationships with families and congregations for the next 100 years.

It pains me to share with you that we’ve made the incredibly difficult decision to cancel the remainder of our Summer 2020 season. We notified families of registered campers of our decision earlier this week, and that they are entitled to a full refund. 

The Loss of Camp

While we found it important to inform you of this unprecedented decision and of our reasons for making it (below), we’re also writing to you, as someone who loves camp, to let you know that thousands of children, youth, and adults are actively grieving the loss of camp right now. First-time campers who packed their bags a month early. Rising seniors who longed for one last week of camp. Parents who yearned to see their kids come home with increased self-worth, love of God, and love of others. Young adults who committed their summer to Christian servant leadership. Passionate supporters who help make that impact possible.

And yet, while we have lost the Summer 2020 season, we have not lost camp; it is alive and well in generations of alumni campers and staff who have departed to serve and continue to live out camp’s core values amidst the many challenges our society is facing. And while we don’t know yet when exactly camp programming will return or what exactly it will look like, we know camp will be back to make a direct and powerful impact on a hurting world . In the meantime, we invite you to join us in helping secure the future of camp and in praying for our campers, their families, and our summer staff. My friends, we think of you daily...

Factors Influencing Our Decision

You should know that there’s no one reason we decided we couldn’t open camp safely. Rather, it was the cumulative effect of a variety of challenges which, in combination, presented a puzzle of potentially unsafe factors that could not be resolved in time. Some of the most significant factors influencing the decision were:

  • Evolving and late-breaking information, mandates, and best practices made it challenging to set up our summer team for success. The State of Georgia, the CDC, and the American Camp Association were finally able to get on the same page with their recommendations and mandates about how to run camp safely, but not until the past couple of weeks. This resulted in a delay in the development and communication of our mitigation plan and staff structure, which led to a loss of 10% of our summer staff in the past two weeks at a time when having extra staff was necessary as a buffer to operate safely.

  • Our best efforts to develop operational theory ran into reality. For three months we’ve been reading, learning, listening, and seeking expertise and understanding to know how best to run camp safely in a pandemic. Our best laid plans began to bump up against reality only in the past few weeks as we began to lean fully into opening camp, implementing the plan. The slow turnaround of testing results, insufficient availability and reliability of rapid testing, and significantly reduced access to program activities were some of the realities that had a compounding impact as we worked toward opening.

  • The number of COVID-19 cases has reversed the earlier decline in Georgia, and threatens to climb again. While we determined that we would give less weight to this factor since it has not been a significant consideration in our state’s reopening, an increased number of cases in the areas where our campers live is an environmental consideration that indicates increased overall risk. Avoiding contributing to spread is a responsibility we take seriously, especially in light of recent increases.

Again, no single one of these factors precipitated our decision. We are more than prepared to run camp safely – in a normal summer. But this summer is far from normal. And not only did we need our entire team trained and prepared to mitigate the risk of coronavirus spread, but we needed to be as ready as in previous years to mitigate the risks we assume in a normal summer. I’ve never worked on a team more capable of solving problems and more determined and flexible in their approach to ensuring that camp will open safely. I’m grateful for their battling this pandemic all the way up to our final decision date to resolve these issues, and hope you know their great dismay at not being able to open camp this summer. At a time when so many are grieving so much loss, we deeply regret to be adding camp to that list for our camper families and our camp family at large; we grieve alongside you.

Implications for Camp

Camp ministry is unparalleled in its ability to build confidence, to form faith, to practice leadership, to learn about oneself, and to build lifelong friendships. The cancelled summer’s experiences that would have created that impact will be difficult, if not impossible to replace. And thousands of campers will miss the tie dye, the shrieks from “refreshing” creek hike water, the sharing around the campfire, the hikes with friends, and voices lifted together in song in the chapel, and all the lifelong memories of those activities and so many more. It is this loss of camp’s unique impact on lives that is irreplaceable.

More replaceable is the financial impact of not being able to operate camp. Summer camp was projected to generate over 63% of our 2020 operating income. We’ve not yet added costs of acquiring supplies in the lead up to camp, but our early projections for the loss of the entire camp season were at least $1.25M in fixed costs that allow us to keep utilities connected, facilities insured, and staff employed and ready to make camp happen in the future. This loss will be mitigated to some extent by an almost $200,000 PPP loan we received in May.

Stand in the Gap Matching Gift

We’ve already shared with you our efforts to raise funds to offset these operational losses. The Stand in the Gap Relief Fund will ensure the future of camp – of the ministries that have grown to bring faith to life for nearly 5,000 campers each summer. We’ve named the Fund’s giving level “roles” after cherished camp experiences, so there's a relief fund role for us all to play that matches your ability to give with your passion for camp ministry.

We also shared the challenge offered by generous friends of Glisson that will double every dollar you give or pledge, up to $350,000. As of June 15th, we have claimed $115,396 of the match – a third of our initial goal. Please join with me and our staff and board in giving generously and make your donation or pledge online today. You can also donate by check sent to the address below, and know that we can receive corporate giving matches if your employer offers those. For questions, please contact our Director of Development, Celestine Hankerson, at or 678-533-1378.
Our Prayer

Our society is facing so many challenges today that ask us to respond with the very best of who we are. No doubt these challenges, and others we cannot even imagine, will face future generations. With your continued support, this family of camp and retreat ministries will continue to form the faith and sharpen the leadership capabilities of our children and youth that they may be prepared to faithfully meet the challenges that will come during our next 100 years of ministry.

May God make it so...

Be well,