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October 30, 2020
Resource Update October 30, 2020

What can we do to have our voice heard at a government level?

I think a lot of us get a sense from our government that "summer's over, camp's not happening." However, we all know that we need answers about what we can do now, and also we need answers soon about what we can do next summer.  I have received a few tips about advocacy. Here they are:

  • Make sure you DO contact your government officials. Letters, emails, phone calls, go for coffee. We do need to be heard. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so we do want to squeak. Please remember to do so with gentleness and respect! 
  • You are better to contact them personally and not have a "template". They need to hear YOUR voice. It's okay if it's not polished. It just needs to be real.
  • At the same time, let's make sure we are using some of the same language.
    • We are NOT day camps - overnight camp is a very separate industry (the official I spoke to envisioned the church day camp optional Thursday overnight with 60 kids sleeping in the church basement - humid and stinky - and using the church bathroom that was never designed for overnight use)
    • Many of us are too far away from a population center to run effective day programming. Loss of school groups, field trips, conferences and retreats has decimated our industry financially.
    • We are set up for overnight stays by families and/or cohort groups and/or bubbles
    • We have lots of outdoor space that would allow for distancing
    • We require time to plan, hire, train and design programs for our clientele. A last minute decision does not allow us to properly prepare.
    • We are asking for a decision about summer 2021 by February 1, 2021
  • Support your Provincial Camping Association in their advocacy on behalf of camps. The word is going out and slowly being heard. Let's continue to speak up together!

What are camps doing now to generate some income or to increase community awareness?

As you read through the ideas that other camps have, please remember:

  1. Stay true to your vision and mandate. Continue to use wisdom to influence your decisions, don't just ask "will it make money?"
  2. Each province has different regulations and restrictions. Please be sure that you have all the correct permissions in place before starting new programs.

Here are some ideas from camps about what they are doing during this time. If you have more suggestions, drop me a line so I can include it in future updates.

  • Some camps are having families stay overnight and then planning programming for the kids during the day.
  • Some camps are having families stay overnight and treating it as more of a resort - some activities are open at certain times, families can join in the fun if they choose.
  • One camp is heading into the schools to provide programs.
  • A few camps are offering discipleship training online or to a select few in person.
  • One camp did a "family project" camp where families signed up to complete a camp project and stayed together on camp property as a family. The family had to raise $1000 to apply. There were a number of families that were able to minister in this way.
  • Many of our camps offered day camps this summer and are continuing to offer day programs through the fall and winter.
  • Some camps are offering day events or day retreats for high school and young adults. A couple of camps have invited the parents to stay overnight so that the campers can "return home" and be in their family group for overnight stays.
  • Some of our camps are selling items and/or land.
  • In order to keep communication and connection strong, one camp told how they sent a t-shirt to all the campers that had been registered and had received refunds. 
  • A couple of camps have continued a food delivery/preparation program.
  • One idea is preparing a Christmas banquet for pick up or delivery.
  • Many of our camps are taking this time to go through old storerooms and file cabinets to clean up the property and the paperwork.
  • Camps are making sure their policy manuals are current.
  • One camp used the facebook business ad through the business centre (different than boosting) to promote their family programs. This was incredibly helpful and over 60% of the people using the programs were unique guests.
  • Camps talked about using this time to train staff in how to share the gospel in a new context. Taking time for equipping staff for a different kind of ministry.
  • Camps are focusing on infrastructure during these winter months.

How are camps planning for 2021?

Here are some ideas and cautions from camps as they plan for 2021. Let's plan to do something in the summer of 2021!

  • Pray for wisdom to best steward the ministries that have been entrusted to us
  • Have a Plan A and a Plan B. Know your cut off date of when you need to move from one plan to the other
  • Plan A - summer as usual.
    • If you have printouts or a paper reminder, send a card that directs them to your website so they can have the latest updates. Avoid putting dates or specific information on the cards
    • Know how to communicate to those who have already registered. Keep them informed when you update your website
    • Consider a smaller deposit or no $ deposit until decisions have been made
  • Plan B - here are some ideas for 2021 if overnight camps are still not allowed
    • Day camp
    • Hybrid camp - allow both day and overnight at the same time
    • Bring camp to a community. Have a mobile program that you can take to a church field or park in a populated center (know what permissions/permits you need)
    • Family camp
    • Wilderness camping
    • Out-trips (see BC approved COVID wilderness expedition plan)
    • Rent-A-Tent
    • Virtual Camp Programs
    • Families stay in tents/RV's/rent cabins - camp does day programs for the kids of the families. Camp provides internet for families that need to work virtually
      • Caution - if planning family camp or "bubble" group camp, make sure you communicate the experience well to avoid "party" camping.
  • Be proactive with your health unit and with your insurance company. Get to know them and have them know you
    • Caution - remember that if you commit to something you are bound to do it. If you create a standard you must stick to it. Start general and give specifics when asked.
  • Have flexible job descriptions. Communicate clearly the uncertainty of what the job will actually entail

I've been thinking that we are neither on a mountain top nor in a valley. It seems we are on the prairies (or in the wilderness) where everywhere we look it's the same and there's no change in sight. BUT, we serve the God who is the God of the prairies too! Praying that you will be filled with the joy of the Lord to combat all discouragement!

Serving with you. 

Sharon Fraess
National Director

May 21, 2020
Resource Update May 21, 2020

It is hard to believe that in just over 2 months our world has changed so much. I am beginning to relate to “a day is like a thousand years”. I continue to pray that God will give you wisdom, courage, strength, peace and endurance. Our faith is being tested. I pray that you will stand firm.

My prayer for you all often comes from Isaiah 11:2-3 “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on [you]- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord - and [you] will delight in the fear of the Lord".

PRAYER WORKS! Please remember Sunday, May 31, 2020 as the Day of Prayer for Camp. Let’s join together and pray for God to be glorified despite the circumstances. A pandemic can’t stop Prayer for Camp! Promote the Day of Prayer to your church and community. Find resources and details here.

Updates from our camps - what are camps doing?

Here are some more ideas from camps about what they are doing during this time. If you have more suggestions, drop me a line so I can include it in future updates.

  • Government decisions have closed many of our summer camps. In some provinces both day camps and overnight camps have been closed. In some provinces day camps are still allowed. Some provinces are still hopeful for overnight camps to be allowed.
  • Camps are putting together some form of camp-in-a-box that can be delivered to campers or picked up by campers. Portage Promo, one of our business members, is offering a camp2kids program. An idea for camp-in-a-box is to have materials included so campers can bury a time capsule in the backyard.
  • Camps are looking at more virtual options. Check out the CCI/Canada resource library for ideas and “how to” conference options.
  • Some overnight camps are looking into day camp options (where permitted).
  • Horse camps are running riding lessons.
  • Camps are planning to offer outdoor recreation experiences. These are planning on having families or guests sign up for day activities and planning to keep non-family/cohorts 2m apart.
  • Some camps have closed completely and will reopen in 2021.
  • A few camps are experiencing severe financial hardships and are closing their sites permanently.
  • Some camps are using this time to make sure all their manuals are up to date.
  • There are camps that are using this time to develop a better board/camp relationship. Clearview Training and Consulting, one of our business members, will do a free consultation to get you started.
  • Many camps are launching some form of fundraising activity. They are reporting success in receiving donations. Clearview Training and Consulting is available to give ideas for fundraising
  • Some camps are planning to invest this summer in their staff with a more intensive staff discipleship.
  • Are you unsure whether you should offer programs or not? Camps have found the decision tree offered by the CDC (Communicable Disease Center in the US) to be helpful in deciding whether or not to run camp.

In regards to staffing and finances

  • Some camps are still welcoming spring staff – both paid and volunteer – to do projects and to run activities for day programs.
  • An idea for camps welcoming staff is to ask them to keep a health log up to 14 days prior to arrival at camp.
  • Some camps will continue with staff training and discipleship. Whether conducting staff training from a distance or onsite, you may find this offer valuable. For five days only, June 1-5, download for FREE the kindle version of two camp leadership books, Jim Badke's book The Christian Camp Leader  and Craig Douglas’ book Pillow Fights and Sleepless Nights .

 

Links to help you in your planning

  • The CCI/Canada resource library includes some excellent resources about preparing your business as well as your ministry. Check out the COVID-19 folder. It is full of great resources! As more resources are found, they will be placed in the resource library.

  • The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) is an interest-free repayable loan available to small businesses. Check out if you qualify (in Alberta this does not apply to not-for-profit). Follow the link for other options available to not-for-profits.

  • If you are unable to hire this summer, the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) may be something for your spring/summer staff to be aware of. Applications opened on May 15.

  • The CCA (Canadian Camping Association) and other recreation sector businesses are pushing for a relief program geared to the outdoor recreation sector as a whole. We will keep you informed of developments.

  • The FCC (Fellowship of Christian Camps BC) recently conducted a survey for camper parents to share their concerns and preferences for the summer. The questions they asked can be found here. The survey results "showed that parents were primarily interested in the type of programming camps usually offer, rather than virtual or day camp. They also expected a full refund for fees paid and wanted the decision to be left to them to donate or not. But they want camps to survive and want to help".  

  • Calgary’s Child magazine also ran a survey specifically asking parents about their response to online or distance camp options. Their survey results can be found here (Password is summercamp)

  • Want to send parents a link with practical suggestions on how to help their children through dealing with the disappointment of not being able to attend camp this summer? This video is courtesy of Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, Pediatric and Adolescent Psychotherapist, Best Selling Author of The Whole-Brain Child, No Drama Discipline & The Power of Showing Up 

  

Serving with you

Sharon Fraess
National Director

April 27, 2020
COVID-19 Resource Update April 27, 2020

I am praying that this update finds you in good health; spiritually, physically and mentally. “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’. So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid’.” Hebrews 13:5b-6a

Updates from our camps - what are camps doing?

Here are some more ideas from camps about what they are doing during this time. These are ideas only - make sure you have your board approval and legal advice when necessary.If you have more suggestions, drop me a line so I can include it in future updates.

  • Some camps have communicated to their summer campers that camp will not be running for the 2020 season.
  • Some camps are waiting until the end of May or beginning of June to make a final decision.
  • Camps are offering different options to summer camp parents for cancelled camps. Some camps are choosing which option they will offer, some camps are allowing parents to choose from a number of the following options:
    • A full refund
    • A full refund less an administration fee to cover credit card costs for the initial purchase and for the refund
    • A refund of partial payment and a donation receipt for the remainder
    • A donation receipt for the total amount
    • A certificate to apply their fees to next summer’s camp
    • A transfer of fees to next summer
    • A partial refund and a “camp-in-a-box” or “virtual camp” program or some other way of connecting with campers
  • Some of our camps are financially unable to refund the full camp fees. They are communicating this with their camper families and are not offering the full refund options.
  • Camps are looking at the camp-in-a-box idea for this summer. Connect with our merchandising business members to see their tips and helps for this. Here are some ideas for the box or for “camp-at-home”:
    • Have campers sleep in a sleeping bag for the week and take a picture to enter for cabin inspection, If parents allow, build a fort or tent in the room to sleep inside. Cabin inspection can include something theme related on the bed each day.
    • A camp t-shirt
    • A different envelope to open each day with a craft and project description and any supplies needed for that craft/project
    • Tuck item each day
    • A recipe to make a tuck item for the day (campers may not be allowed to use the stove or oven – include a recipe without needing cooking/baking)
    • A devotional book
    • A bible
    • A camp mystery with clues being given online to correspond to information given in the box
    • A “campfire” flashlight to open up for campfire time
    • A length of rope to teach knot tying Items for games to play at home
  • Camps are doing online campfires and online devotionals for kids
  • Camps are reading bedtime stories online
  • Camps are purchasing and planning to sell camp merchandise. They will sell online if needed.

How are we connecting as camps?

  • Every Thursday at 10:00MDT camp staff meet together on Zoom. Check your inbox for call details.
  • Prayer rooms are available throughout the week. Ask for prayer or pray with others. Zoom links are available in your inbox.

Links to help you in your planning

Serving with you

Sharon Fraess
National Director

April 06, 2020
COVID-19 Resource Update April 6, 2020

I continue to pray for you all as we experience the unknown together. Thankfully there is one thing we know - our God is good ALL THE TIME! In the midst of the crazy He is steadfast and true.

Updates from our camps - what are camps doing?

Here are some more ideas from camps about what they are doing during this time. If you have more suggestions, drop me a line so I can include it in future updates.

  • A couple of camps are allowing their community to order groceries through the camp's supplier and the camp is delivering the groceries. A couple of camps are preparing meals and offering those for sale (including camp cinnamon buns!) See Camp Evergreen, AB for their Evergreen-To-Go idea and Youth Farm Bible Camp, SK for their Food Market idea.
  • Some camps have contacted the health authorities in their province to indicate their readiness and willingness to help on the front lines of COVID-19 providing beds, childcare for health workers or preparing meals.
  • Camps are holding virtual camps. Check out Camp Chestermere, AB for their iCampC idea.
  • Camps are doing online campfires and online devotionals for kids.
  • Camps are purchasing and planning to sell camp merchandise regardless. They will sell online if needed.
  • One camp suggested making camp puzzles to sell as a fundraiser.
  • Camp Suggestions for engaging campers:
    • Have a t-shirt design contest. Winning t-shirt will be printed and offered for sale.
    • Mail or email connection each week with items for a camp mystery. To be solved after a number of weeks.
    • Supply video content with ideas of what to do at home
    • Do whatever it takes to be a resource NOW – be part of the solution to boredom
    • Online bible lessons
    • House scavenger hunts (include find and play a musical instrument, Camp Seggie says this was the best part of the hunt)
    • Playing Zoom games – see this resource
    • Check out the websites, Facebook and Instagram sites of other camps. Get ideas that you can use at your camp.

In regards to staffing and finances

  • Many camps are temporarily laying off workers. Please ensure that you are following your Provincial Employment laws for the correct way to lay off an employee.
  • Camps are offering tax receipts rather than refunds for cancelled events. (For how to fill out a tax receipt in this event see the link below)
  • Some re-certifications are being extended. Check if this applies to your expiring certifications.

Rresources available to Camps, Conference Centres and other Non-Profits

  • Updating your policy and procedures so that they include what to do should camp resume this summer? There are three sample policy and procedure manuals available in the CCI/Canada Resource Library. Feel free to download them and tailor them to your camp. Thank you to Blue Bronna Wilderness Camp, AB and Camp Arnes, MB for sharing these.
  • Paul Bailey from the FCC has made a spreadsheet available to camps to help determine the 75% subsidy and to aid in financial decisions around payroll. (This is also available in the CCI/Canada Resource Library)
  • Camps are invited to join a slack group to discuss ideas (Slack is an instant messaging platform that can make collaborative sharing at a distance easier
  • CCI/Worldwide is offering a prayer app. Check it out to pray for others or to receive prayer.
  • The American Camp Association is offering access to 2 free videos per day - an excellent resource relating to camp practices. You will have to sign up with the ACA to receive this offer.
  • Practical support for the Canadian Church by Graf-Martin Communications 
  • Financial relief, response plan by Church Fuel
  • Details on the CARES Act (financial grants and loans for payroll) by Church Fuel
  • Tools and Resources to help you work remotely by Google for Non-Profits 

Links to help you in your planning

Thank you to all of you who are so wiling to share your ideas!