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Diocesan camps & conference centers in the Summer of Covid-19

Diocesan camps & conference centers in the Summer of Covid-19

The Diocese of Virginia today announced that it will not conduct camps this summer. Parents were informed earlier in the day, and Bishop Susan Goff informed the diocese this afternoon. All diocesan-sponsored camps are held at Shrine Mont.

Shrine Mont is not closed for 2020: see this afternoon’s announcement. Several cottages with equipped kitchens are available to family groups. Common areas including the dining facilities will be closed. Its 1200 acres are open to hiking and recreation.

Recently, Roslyn, the other conference center of the diocese announced it would be closed for the remainder of 2020.

Has your diocese announced a decision on 2020 summer camps?

The diocese will be provide full refunds for camps, writing:

For those of your who are already registered for summer 2020, Shrine Mont Camps is committed to refunding all balances and deposits paid. However, if you are able, we ask you to consider converting some portion of what you have paid into a donation. This will support our efforts to create offerings that invite community and faith formation in the absence of our traditional camp season…. We also strongly encourage you to consider a donation to Shrine Mont; the impact on their financial security is yet another difficult aspect of this decision.

An alternative to overnight camps at Shrine Mont is planned, details to follow.

Kanuga Conference Center has paused operations, now taking reservations beginning in the Fall.

Kanuga was finanicially overextended prior to Covid-related cancellations that began in March. From the President of Kanuga, March 17:

This is one of the most important communications from Kanuga in our history.  Please take the time to read, pray, and respond immediately

Due to COVID-19 precautions, Kanuga is now closed and will reopen when we know the pandemic has passed.

Before the pandemic, Trustees for Kanuga Conferences and the Kanuga Endowment worked to address operating concerns.  In the fourth quarter, we reduced staff.  In addition, the Boards agreed to utilize unrestricted investment funds to pay down debt.  A work-out plan to strengthen Kanuga was enacted. An exciting program redesign is being developed.  Since the Great Recession, however, we have no operating cash reserves.  This reality has made our reliance on our line of credit unsustainable.  Our work out plan also outlines how to pay that line off and begin developing cash reserves over the next several years.

… we do not have operating reserves and because the work out plan has not had time to reduce the line of credit sufficiently …

 

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Eric Bonetti

I recognize that I am probably in the (front) running for the official curmudgeon of the COVID-19 crisis, but why on earth did it take this long to reach this decision?

We remain early in the pandemic, and the very things that make Shrine Mont wonderful — communal dining, singing, hiking together, and more — are all high or higher risk activities.

To make matters worse, the unavoidable reality is that fall will bring the convergence of three factors:

1) The annual influenza season.
2) The lifting of the lockdown in Virginia.
3) An increase in COVID-19 cases due to increased interpersonal contact resulting from the end to the state’s lockdown.

Together with TEC’s aging demographics, and the fact that church attendance is a super-spreading event, any group activities at Shrine Mont for the forseeable future create the risk of catastrophic outcomes, including entire parishes in self-quarantine, serious illness and worse.

As it stands, the juxtaposition of the seasonal influenza outbreak and COVID-19 is likely to prove ugly indeed. All churches should give careful thought to how they will respond when the flu season further complicates the existing challenges they are facing. If nothing else, now is the time to plan for the possibility of further lockdowns and declines in attendance/giving that may arise from the combination of influenza and COVID-19.

Sadly, closing Shrine Mont for the forseeable future is the only rational decision that could be made.

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