In 2020, COVID-19 forced us to change many aspects of our lives and ministry efforts. A major change was the cancellation of summer camps. As we move into 2021, the outlook does not look vastly different. There are still major capacity restrictions in place, case numbers remain high and the virus is still looming.
Throughout the planning season, the ABSC staff has been working through plans, options and alternatives for camps in 2021. Despite these efforts, we have ultimately made the decision to cancel Super Summer Arkansas, Super Kids Camp, PraiseWorks and JoyWorks Worship Arts Camp. A number of details contributed to this decision as well as much prayer and discussion with key leaders. While we are not happy with this outcome we do know that God is not bound by a summer camp and we are entering this new season with an expectation to see God work in incredible ways.
As mentioned, there were a number of factors that contributed to this decision:
The current number of campers that the Arkansas Department of Health could allow is 250 in even our largest camp venue. In normal years, we have over 800-1400 campers participating at each camp. The Health Department restrictions exist for cafeteria and other large group meeting spaces as well.
Health officials are suggesting that restrictions will not be lifted until vaccination reaches 70% of Arkansas’ population. Current trends do not project that percentage being reached in time for camp. Vaccines for students under 17 are not out of clinical trials at this time. Vaccines for our adult volunteers and staff will not be available until after April.
Current camp guidelines are very limiting: a 14-day pre-camp quarantine for all campers and staff, pre-testing with no positives or symptoms prior to camp for all campers and volunteers, single entrances and exits, social distancing, masks, etc. for all activities.
There is a risk of significant financial loss if registrations do not meet a certain number. The current capacity would not come close to meeting budgetary needs. While finances are not the primary driver behind this decision, we do want to make certain that we are good stewards of Cooperative Program missions money.
Churches need to know what opportunities do exist for ministry to students in 2021. It would be unfair for us to open registration, then have to inform numerous churches they could not come due to capacity, and consequently leave churches wondering what to do. Many churches have already made alternate plans. Many churches are executing other plans that will put students and parents at ease.
The ability to recruit staffers, a vital part of our ministry, has been minimized by the current conditions. Also, our staffers need to know what opportunities God has for them to serve this summer.
- The structure of ABSC summer camps utilizes many volunteers in several areas including recreation, teaching in schools, security, and concessions. With the potential of a greatly reduced roster of churches, the manpower for our camp would be significantly diminished. Plus, the potential for any quarantines prior to or during camp would greatly impact camp functioning.
While it’s possible that camp restrictions will ease or change by summer, it’s impossible to predict what they will be. Additionally, it would be impossible to plan and provide a quality camp experience for the thousands of students who attend annually.
The directors and leadership teams of each camp are currently planning and discussing alternative options to resources or alternative options for students to continue to have some sort of summer camp experience. These will be communicated and provided in the coming days.
Additionally, our ABSC ministry partner, Camp Siloam is working diligently to provide Summer Camp opportunities this summer. Visit CampSiloam.com for more information.
If you are looking for camp specific information or if you have any questions about this, please connect with the camp directors of each specific camp. You can find their information at their respective website listed just below.
Supersumerarkansas.com - Superkidsar.com - Praiseworksarkansas.com - Joyworksarkansas.com