Wednesday, May 20, 2020
An Uncertain Future for Summer Camps?
Day by day there are more announcements about the summer that won't be, at least in terms of the special events and activities we assume are part of the season. Huge public events in Toronto including the Canadian Natoinal Exhibition have been cancelled. And yesterday the Ontario government declared that overnight camps will not be allowed in 2020. This means that the sort of seasonal residential camps in wilderness and rural settings will be required to stay closed, some for the first time in 100 years.This will be devastating, financially, for lots of them.
The summer camps run by religious organizations will not be exempt from this directive, including those operated by the United Church of Canada. These church camps went through a rough patch in the late 70's for a decade or more and some closed permanently. Then there was a resurgence in Christian camping generally, often with a change in focus. In a number of United Church camps there was a new emphasis on celebrating Creation in a way that wasn't there before. It's odd but most of these camps had beautiful natural settings and outdoor chapels but didn't explicitly explore the connection between Creator and Creation.
The United Church camp in our area is Quin Mo Lac where I was a child camper and later a swimming instructor. Thousands of children have spent time there through the decades, including children from our Syrian refugee families. My parents worked there the summer after I was born and curiously sent me a postcard with an image of Bridge St. United Church, the last congregation I served before retirement. Of course I was an accomplished reader at the age of nine months! Quin Mo Lac was founded in 1950 and this is probably the first summer in 70 years without a camp program.
I met my wife, Ruth, at Camp Iawah, where we were staff members in our late teens. These summer romances obviously don't last, given that we've now been married 44 years.
Please pray for these camps in the midst of terrible disappointment and uncertainty. You might consider supporting one financially. You may have a camp "alma mater" and your donation along with lots more like it could make the difference in terms of survival.
Did you have a summer camp experience, Christian or otherwise? Did camp make a difference in your life? How about for others you know?
On World Bee Day I consider how cherishing bees in a religious experience in my Groundling blog