A family gathers at a playground at N-Sid-Sen/Photo by Jim CastroLang

Area Christian Camps Adjust to Summer During a Pandemic

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By Patrick Jones

In these uncertain times when things are starting to open up during the Coronavirus pandemic, the question of summer camps’ availability and registration is on the minds of many families.

Several area Vacation Bible Schools and camps are making adjustments to programs this year, or suspending them all together.

Life Center and Camp Cross are completely suspending their summer camp programs in order to keep their campers safe. Both organizations are providing methods for virtual camp worship and time with God.

Camp Cross is using this time to make their camp better by doing physical camp projects and on-site staff training. The staff recently arrived to camp and will stay until Aug. 12 while maintaining physical distancing and other recommended safety measures.

Camps with alternative summer plans include Camp N-Sid-Sen, Camp Mivoden, Camp Reed and Camp Lutherhaven.

Camp N-Sid-Sen’s summer programming is suspended for the season, but they have family cabins open for rental and work camp days still available. Family cabins are almost completely booked and will be offered Thursday through Monday until the end of the summer. Work camps will be offered from Monday through Thursday until the end of June.

Photo of Camp N-Sid-Sen Courtesy Jim CastroLang

“Asking kids to come to camp and see their friends they only get to see once a year and telling them they may not be able to [do various camp activities with them], is actually more traumatic than suspending camp until next year” said Managing Director Mark Boyd.

Camp N-Sid-Sen is also housing first responders who need a safe haven to get away from family who might be susceptible to the virus. They are also looking for donations to help remain open.

Camp Mivoden is operating regular summer camp, but with new and safe practices that align with CDC, state and county guidelines. They are operating adventure, junior and teen camps starting July 12, and regular scheduled family camps are starting July 20.

If you are already registered for camp at Mivoden this summer, your spot is still safe. However, if you or your camper cannot make it for whatever reason, you are entitled to placement for next summer or a full refund. Registration is open now. Check the website for more information.

Another popular camp, Camp Reed, is offering family cabin rentals, pop-up camps, virtual camps and their regularly scheduled summer day camps at the YMCA centers.

The family cabin rentals last from July until the end of August and can be rented out for as long as you pay. Rentals include access to some typical camp activities like the waterfront and some arts and crafts with implemented health safety practices. It is important to note that these rentals are only available if Spokane County moves and stays in Phase 3.

The pop-up camps are day camps on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1-4 p.m.,  June 3 – Aug. 27. These pop-up camps will be taking place at John A. Finch Arboretum and will encapsulate the spirit and magic of camp.

“Essentially, we’re just doing an overnight out in town,” said Executive Director Phil “Buster” Harrison.

Lastly, the virtual camp will be free for everyone and will include online art projects, virtual games with staff and prerecorded staff skits and songs. More information will be posted on their website and their social media platforms. 

Lastly, Camp Lutherhaven is offering up space for families and less than 10 person congregations to rent cabins on the property. The camp staff will provide socially distant intergenerational and intragenerational Bible studies, waterfront activities, the climbing wall and archery range all while following important safety guidelines previously outlined by national associations.

“Once we knew there was going to be a new playbook, we could start writing the playbook,” said Executive Director Bob Baker.

Day camps and child care are also available.

According to the members of the Christian Camp and Conference Association, about 57% of their camps will continue running with significantly modified program plans, 33% are closed completely and 10% are opening with regular programming.

So even through modifications, many camps like the ones described above are working their hardest to provide a worthwhile, fun and faith-based camp experience for all.

“God is not just here at camp. God came here with you, and God is going home with you. That’s the important foundation to remember,” Boyd said.

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About Patrick Jones

Patrick Jones is a Gonzaga University graduate of the class of 2020. He has a degree in Communication Studies and minored in Journalism and Psychology. Currently, he is looking for work as a journalist or writer full-time. He has plans to attend a graduate program for journalism after a few years of work experience.

Patrick is interested in ethnography and linguistics which led to his senior capstone study on the Pilgrim Slavic Baptist Church in Spokane, WA. His capstone was his final project for the Gonzaga Communication Studies Department. He is also interested in writing about the arts, especially music. One day, he could see himself working as a reporter covering music or a reporter for a local or national newspaper.

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