Remember sitting around a fire pit – joking, singing camp songs, and miscalculating the time your marshmallow would take to burn? Well, the fire pits have been pretty quiet at our four Pacific Northwest United Methodist Camps this year. (The squirrels and seagulls are very disappointed in our errant marshmallow output!)
As is the story everywhere during the COVID outbreak, the camps suspended normal operation shortly after the pandemic began. While unable to host a traditional camping season, our camp staff’s bright minds quickly found creative ways to continue to serve our Conference and communities.
The camps have hosted personal and (immediate) family retreats as well as, with special permission, local school and other community groups. For example, Lazy F Camp continues their partnership with Happy Feet Academy Preschool while maintaining a safe environment for all. These small groups have provided welcomed activity at the camps.
Throughout 2020, each of our camps reduced expenses as much as possible to help mitigate over 1.1 million in lost revenue. Through this belt-tightening and our donors’ enormous generosity, our camps made it through 2020 intact. Supporters gave a record $424,332 to help the camps through this time. ‘Thank you’ woefully underrepresents how grateful we are to those whose donations made this possible. These donations allow us to keep the camps in a state of readiness for the moment we can reopen.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic’s continued severity, it now looks like our camps will not be able to resume normal activities very soon, at least in the spring and early summer of 2021. However, here are three ways you can continue to help:
- Volunteer – One unexpected benefit of the pandemic is time to maintain and improve facilities as finances allow. Volunteers are critical to this!
- Take a short vacation – Book a retreat for yourself or your immediate family at your favorite camp. Limited facilities are available at each of our retreat centers for this purpose.
- Donate – If you are able, please donate to PNW Camp and Retreat Ministries. Your donations help us keep our camps in a state of readiness, keep up with essential maintenance, and keep our core staff employed. Donations can be made online at pnwcamps.org, on the individual camp websites, or check mailed to: PNW Camp and Retreat Ministries, PO Box 13650, Des Moines, WA 98198
Stay masked, stay safe, and we will see you around the campfire again as soon as possible!
Peace and Grace,
PNW Camp and Retreat Ministries