Dear Sugar Creek Friends and Families,
Since the pandemic began, the Sugar Creek staff and board have worked hard to complete many thorough and creative adaptations to our activities and facilities to exceed new safety standards. Adaptations continue based on new research and CDC recommendations.
Vaccines are becoming more widely available, thankfully. However, no matter what the schedule of progress with the vaccines this year, this camp will stay committed to all safety practices recommended by the CDC, state and local health departments, and professional guidelines for fully ACA-accredited camps like Sugar Creek for the duration of the 2021 summer camp season.
As Christians, we believe God’s grace for us through Jesus Christ inspires us to love our neighbors, even sacrificially at times. This means respecting their right to life and health. Jesus, as the ultimate example of love for others, tells us to have faith that God provides even as we care for one another, saying, “Go and do likewise.” As long as so many in our country continue to be at high risk, we will look to our medical doctors, national medical experts, and up-to-date medical science when questions pertain to medical questions. Therefore the #1 rule of faithfully protecting each other will be in place, as face masks will be worn by all staff and guests at all times recommended by the health experts, such as indoors in common spaces.
Meals and program activities will be outside and in open air shelters even more so than in the past. Dining will typically take place in open-air shelters and among small cabin groups at their own picnic tables and campsites. If weather or other factors require it, meals and activities may be adjusted if necessary to avoid sharing air among different cabin groups. Key surfaces will be cleaned frequently with ample opportunities to wash and sanitize hands. Extra staff members will be hired and time allotted to clean and disinfect surfaces. Hand-washing stations and/or sanitizing posts will be at all building entrances, near other touch-points, and even at shared outdoor spaces like campfire rings. Thanks to a recent grant, Sugar Creek has upgraded to no-touch paper towel dispensers across the camp. All large-group activities, including campfires, are being adapted to allow for “above and beyond” outdoor physical distancing. As in summers past, a nurse or doctor will be present each week to direct our health office in accordance with ACA and COVID safety guidelines.
As a fully ACA-accredited camp, Sugar Creek has for decades met hundreds of rigorous health and safety standards. For 2021, we are integrating 100+ additional pages full of new national standards for COVID safety at residential summer camps, written by medical doctors familiar with camping ministries, community health leaders, and camp experts in consultation with the CDC. Practices are very specific. Guidelines cover everything from at-home child pre-screenings before camp, to how to best clean our horse saddles in the pandemic. Moreover, additional summer staff are being hired this year to accommodate new sanitizing duties, activity ratios, property maintenance, and other duties.
These are only a few of the many pandemic safety practices at summer camp for this time of unprecedented global challenge. There will be more, as we adapt and learn from medical and camping ministry experts and as national guidelines change to reflect new findings. Detailed instructions will be communicated to every camper family after they register, and as we approach summertime.
Most COVID safety measures will be behind-the-scenes and may go unnoticed by our campers. That’s a good thing! We want camp to still look and feel like Sugar Creek. Good friendships will be made, self-confidence built, life skills strengthened, the Bible taught, and God praised in awesome, FUN ways! While no institution, anywhere, can prevent every risk or promise zero risk of virus transmissions, we have a great track record with over 100 family groups attending sessions from July through September, and zero suspected cases of COVID-19 associated with these programs. As places of Christian ministry, nonprofit camps – much like schools and businesses – are working hard to do everything we can to mitigate the spread of this terrible virus, until it is no longer such a factor in the world.
For over 50 years, children at Sugar Creek have been blessed by decentralized small group villages and 600+ acres of open-air spaces to roam and enjoy! With a focus on cabin group cohorts, instead of large central groups, this sacred place has always provided for more physically distant small group ministries. Sugar Creek’s programs have always been naturally geared towards better pandemic safety. Here, it is easy to avoid getting “lost in the crowd.” You can enjoy a beautiful expanse of forests, mile-long streams, high prairies and deep valleys. This summer, youth will still enjoy new outdoor adventures and caring personal attention from trained, faith-filled young adult role models in small group settings – and discern their own callings in the classic, humorous, meaningful, uplifting, classic Bible camp adventures…
During the pandemic, for a while longer, some of the ways we serve alongside one another and practice loving hospitality may need to look differently, but the how and why of great outdoor ministry stays the same.
In all of this, your Sugar Creek staff, board, and volunteers are working hard so that you – our campers – will have the loving Christ-centered communities, quality relationships, outdoor adventures, prayerful stargazing, and personal connections that make a week at Bible camp so meaningful. Thank you for your help and your support in making this happen.
In Christ, The Sugar Creek Bible Camp Staff and Board of Directors