Late last week we received word from the Alliance of Oregon Camps that the Oregon Governor’s office has approved the opening and operation of overnight residential camps in Oregon in 2021! I am excited for our staff, campers, families, and communities who have longed for this day.
We are still waiting on what the parameters will be for operation. The Alliance of Oregon Camps has been working with the Governor’s office and the Oregon Health Authority to provide recommendations for our camps. The guidelines that have been provided mirror those established by the American Camp Association and the CDC. The camp community has until March 25 to return its comments. The draft guidelines arrived on March 23.
We do still have much work to do to prepare our sites for the changes that need to be made, either to facilities (for example, installing shields for food service areas) or to our programs (incorporating distancing requirements, for instance). Of course, there is also planning and implementation of the increased requirements for cleaning and sanitation of high touch surfaces and commonly used indoor spaces.
We already know that this will be a difficult year financially, as our income will remain low due to reduced numbers of campers, and our expenses will increase due to the need for more supplies and staff time to meet the standards in the state guidelines.
We are committed to “sacred spaces of Christian hospitality and learning.” As a part of that mission we will rise to this challenge! Following these guidelines will provide the opportunity for campers and retreatants to have an experience that meets their needs for health and well-being, adventure, care, freedom to be who they are, the opportunity to live into the change that they seek, and space to encounter the Holy.
As you prepare to go to camp or on retreat later this year, in ways that may look and feel different than in the past, know that opportunities to encounter God are waiting for you: through the building of community, through participating in Creation, and through intentional exploration of the spiritual life.
See you on the adventure ahead,
Rev. Todd Bartlett
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries
*PHOTO: Counselor Sue Dumalt gathers her new campers as they try out her "owie-zowie light" at Suttle Lake on the first day of camp in 2004 (Laura Jaquith Bartlett).
On March 22, 2021, the McCall property in Idaho, which we have owned since 1959, was sold. It has been a 25-year process to sell the property. It’s been decades since we have offered any kind of programming at the site. A system-wide report from the mid-1990’s recommended that we sell the property and use the proceeds to support camp and retreat ministry. It has been a long journey to accomplish this recommendation! We are grateful for the work of the Conference Board of Trustees, the Conference Treasurer (Dan Wilson-Fey), and the Board of Camp and Retreat Ministries over all these years.
If you have memories of McCall, Todd would love to receive them to include in our Camp and Retreat Ministries’ witness to life-changing ministry. Like any ending, this one is bittersweet, but our Board is extremely pleased that the McCall heritage will live on by nurturing the future of camp and retreat ministry in Idaho and Oregon.
With the sale of this property, money will be invested in the following ways: the general reserve fund for Camp and Retreat Ministries; budget needs (due to Covid) in 2021 and 2022; financial development to raise money for capital projects and to support new programming; and development of programs to serve communities of color. We are grateful that this resource will allow us to step forward in some new and exciting ways.
*PHOTO: Sign at the entrance to the old Camp McCall property (Todd Bartlett).
Calling all counselors, deans, chaplains, healthcare professionals, and all those who want to offer their presence as a support to camp in the summer of 2021! For this summer to be successful, Oregon-Idaho camps and retreat centers will need a robust team of volunteers. We expect a need for extra hands, especially in support roles in areas affected by COVID guidelines, like housekeeping, disinfecting, kitchen, and leadership support. We anticipate many roles may be modified to fit COVID restrictions. If you are interested in serving, please fill out the survey below, and then expect to hear more from the site-specific leadership closer to the summer season. We appreciate your flexibility as we forge ahead into a season of unknowns!
Memories can inspire us, shape our perspective, bring a smile, warm our hearts, and even teach us. With the sale of the McCall property, a camping chapter has closed but the memories live on. And the sale of this long-dormant site will fund opportunities for new memories in the decades to come. Can you transform your camp memories into inspiration for the future? You can if you click that green button!