I am Jason Wiedrich, the director of Pioneer and Rimrock Camps. I am bringing you this message from Camp Rimrock today.
I am very sad to share with you that in light of the Covid – 19 pandemic that we are all experiencing, the Camping and Faith formation commission of the Presbytery of South Dakota have made the very difficult decision to suspend our summer camp season for 2020.
I know that this is going to be such a disappointment to our campers, families and summer crew that come to camp every year and who call this place their home. As I walked through camp today, I am saddened by the stillness of camp and thinking that our creek needs campers in it, our campfire ring need screaming, our chapel needs the vibrations from your jumps. Camp is not a place that is still during the summer, but this year, for the health and safety of everyone, it needs to be still a little longer.
I want you to know that we have not made this decision lightly, we have met as a commission often, met with camps across the nation and listened closely to the CDC guidelines, ACA guidelines and our local and national governing bodies.
We are heartbroken, I am heartbroken. I know that this going to be really hard for a lot of you. I know that there is nothing that replace coming to camp, nothing that can replace sitting by the fire singing and enjoying s’mores, nothing that can replace sitting in your cabin with your new and old friends, nothing can replace hiking to the cross, nothing can replace floating in the creek on a tube, nothing can replace sharing an amazing caramel roll breakfast with your new friends and nothing can replace getting closer to God while at camp.
While making this decision, we asked, why do we do camp? And the answer is still very clear and is clearly stated in our mission statement which says: Providing unique spaces and opportunities for all people to connect with God, self and others. This was a clear reminder for me that we can not cancel camp this summer. We need to do something. We need to shift the way we think about camp.
So, even though it will not be close to the real thing and not meant to replace camp, we will be offering a four week virtual camp experience. We will be calling it Connection Shift 2020.
We know that most of you have had to transition most of your life centered around a computer screen. We know that you have had to do school and work from a computer, we know you have had to visit friends on your phone or computer instead of in person. I know that you and your family were probably really excited to get away from all of that and come to camp. We still feel that even though we are unable to meet on site, we need to provide that opportunity to connect with God, self and other.
We will start Connection Shift with seekers camp starting on June 21. We will then run our you and me program then family camp. Our last two weeks will be our Compass and Pathfinder camps. Registrations will be open on our Web site soon for these camps. We will keep you posted. There will be a small fee tied to your registration. This fee will cover your private access to things like our Connection Shift portal, private access to our zoom meeting rooms, and all of our videos that will be posted on the portal. You will also be receiving a camp in a box to help with your week of camp. The box will include a Connection Shift 2020 shirt and other camp merchandise. It will include journals with the weekly and daily themes and guided questions to help in our group times. It will include all kinds of material to enhance your virtual camp experience.
I know the thought of virtual camp is hard, trust me, I am still struggling with it a bit. But, I will say that I am excited to reconnect with all of you and excited to make new connections as well. I am very confident that some very good things will come from this connection shift. I am excited to bring camp to your homes and churches, to interact with families and churches that otherwise have just sent campers. Our small crew that will be putting this on this summer have some amazing ideas that are going to be put in place that we have never thought of before and very excited to bring it to you.
We will be monitoring the virus and guidelines as summer arrives and I am very hopeful to provide some time in Aug, Sept or Oct. for people to come and enjoy camp. These will be weekends that campers and families can come and enjoy a weekend of connection at camp with all of the normal camp things that will be missed this summer. We will keep everyone posted as those decisions will be made.
I know this announcement has been hard for all of us but I am filled with love and peace knowing we have a loving God who is looking after us, who knows the losses we are feeling but will be using this time to provide hope and love in the promises that God has made.
I hope to see all of you soon, God Bless
Jason Wiedrich, Camp Director