Above everything else, we hope and pray you are all safe. We think about our camp family every day, and that has never been truer than during these last few months.
After much thoughtful consideration and prayer, the Mechuwana Site Board has voted to suspend all summer camping programs at Mechuwana for 2020.(Decisions about fall and winter plans will happen in the coming months, and we will be sure to keep you updated.) Over the last two months, we have wrestled with this decision daily. We've consulted with experts in the medical and camping fields, as well as state health officials, to try to make the best decision possible.
In more than 70 years of continued operations, this is the first time anything like this has ever happened. We considered multiple ways of running our program, but like most camps, we could not come up with a model that was safe for campers, our staff, or our home communities. It was a gut-wrenching decision that we continue to struggle with. We hope you understand how difficult this decision is and how it weighs heavily on all of us.
Acknowledging that this is a time of great financial difficulty for many families, we want to be as flexible as possible with all who have registered for summer camp this year. We are offering these options to choose from:
- Transfer money to next summer's camp experience in 2021
- Receive a refund
- Offer your payment as a gift to the camp
Please let us know no later than June 1, 2020, which of these options you choose by calling or emailing the camp office.
While we know that the decision of safety is the correct choice, we also know that suspending camp will have serious financial consequences for Mechuwana. We are so grateful for those who have already made financial contributions; these gifts will ensure the long legacy of camp impacting lives for the generations to come.
It does not matter if you are a camper, volunteer staff, or permanent staff, there is and will be a feeling of loss for all of us. Mechuwana is a vital part of all our lives. We will continue to reach out through social media and stay in touch as much as we can. We love you all and cannot wait until we can gather at Grove Chapel, around a campfire, in Asbury Theater, the Lodge, in our cabins, on the fields and courts, in the boats, at meals, and along the paths we all have walked. God bless you and keep you safe until we meet again.
The decision to suspend summer camping and retreat programs was made in collaboration with our partners in ministry across the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church and with the support of the Bishop and Conference leadership. Together, with our Camping and Retreat Ministry Board, we have worked hard and collaboratively to resource and supported each other's ministries. While our sites are located in different states with different guidelines, we support this very difficult decision that each site made as they put the best interest of their guests, staff, volunteers, and our communities across the Conference first and foremost.
Grace and peace,
Norman Thombs, Executive Director, on behalf of Mechuwana's staff and board