It is with heavy hearts that Baltimore-Washington Conference leaders announce that, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the summer camping programs and retreats at The West River Center, Manidokan Camp and Retreat Center, and Camp Harmison are cancelled for the summer of 2020.
Retreat facilities and programs for individual retreat groups are expected to re-open August 9.
Camping is one of the Conference’s most valued ministries. Nearly 15,000 people utilize the BWC’s camping and retreat facilities each year, many of them young people, who encounter God in life-transforming ways at nearly 60 residential and day camp programs each summer. Summer camp also draws together more than 340 servant leaders. Along the West River and in the mountains near Harper’s Ferry, campfires, arts and crafts, rope courses, sailing, exploring nature, games, Bible study, skits, music, climbing walls, swimming, and so much more serve as the backdrop for personal growth and spiritual formation.
While this was a difficult decision, the safety and wellbeing of every child is a foundational principle of Retreat and Camping Ministries and one that guided our process. Providing a haven where every child is safe, protected, and valued continues to be paramount to every dimension of the summer camp.
While the traditional summer camp experience will not be held this year, Retreat and Camping Ministry staff are preparing several opportunities for fun, friends, and faith that will be announced by May 22. Creating connections among people and with God is one of the strengths of summer camp, and the staff will be building upon this strength with creative offerings in the season ahead.
Accepting and addressing change in the midst of this pandemic is challenging. The Council on Finance and Administration has approved a spending plan that will enable the retention of regular, year-round camping staff. The leaders of the Retreat and Camping Ministry express their profound gratitude to the clergy, lay leadership, and all the people of the Baltimore-Washington Conference for their ongoing support.
Your prayers are also sought for the staff, volunteers, those who seek time apart in retreat, and for all the young people who won’t be able to gather around a campfire this summer. In the words of an old camp song: “All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh.”
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Retreat and Camping Ministries Office at 410-867-0991 or firstname.lastname@example.org.