Important Announcement Regarding UNY Summer Camp 2020

The current context of the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a very challenging decision for the Upper New York Camp & Retreat Ministries (UNY CRM) lead team. After consultation with the Upper New York Committee on Camp & Retreat Ministries and after several meetings with experts in the medical and camping fields, the UNY CRM lead team has decided to suspend all UNY-hosted summer programs at each of the CRM sites: Aldersgate, Asbury, Casowasco, Sky Lake, and Skye Farm.

While this is disappointing news for campers, parents, volunteers, and staff (including the lead team), safety is our top priority.

The UNY CRM staff is trained to keep campers safe during normal circumstances, but the challenges posed by COVID-19 are unprecedented and many, including, but not limited to:

● The need for heightened cleaning requirements
● Providing PPE to campers and staff, including masks
● Social distancing requirements, including strict occupancy limits
● There would be difficulty in getting trained medical staff
● Summer staff would likely need to remain onsite for the whole season
● At this time, the health department recommends that those who are high risk not attend camp during the COVID-19 pandemic. This would go against UNY CRM’s inclusivity commitment.

The camping experience is one of the most powerful ways to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, so this decision was not made lightly. Trust that all UNY CRM sites will put forth their utmost effort to keep connected to their camping communities in the coming months. More information on what each site will be doing to stay connected will come soon.

Those who have already registered and made a payment toward a program will be contacted by their individual site by the end of next week to discuss their options going forward. The three options are:

● Receive a full refund
● Transfer the payment to credit for 2021
● Generously donate part or all your registration/deposit to the site of your choice, helping to sustain UNY CRM through the summer.

While you cannot be at the camp sites physically, know that the UNY CRM lead team is here for you spiritually and emotionally at this time and very much look forward to when they can see you again.

If you have any questions about this news, please contact Betsy Schuessler, Executive Assistant for the UNY CRM team at

This announcement was written by Shannon Hodson of Upper New York Annual Conference Communications and first appeared at after families of registered 2020 participants and all 2019 participants received the following letter by email directly:

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
– Psalm 100:5

Dear Camp and Retreat Families,

We write to you today in the midst of one of the most challenging time our camping community has faced. Upper New York Camp and Retreat ministries has transformed the lives of campers, participants, guests, staff, and volunteers for over 75 years. Each generation of a camp and retreat community sees a blend of change, tradition, challenge, and celebration. Even now, God’s steadfast love extends to us as we adapt to the situation of our world.

After much prayer and careful consideration, the Camp and Retreat Ministries Staff with support from the Committee have made the challenging decision to suspend our summer programs at all UNY sites—Aldersgate, Asbury, Casowasco, Sky Lake, and Skye Farm for the 2020 season. This includes traditional summer camp, Express Mini programs, and Special Needs Programs.

This decision is difficult and unprecedented. We truly believe that camp provides a unique opportunity for people to experience the transforming love of God in the context of Christian community, and it saddens us greatly to lose that opportunity this summer. Fundamental to our camp and retreat communities, however, is a devoted commitment to the safety of all who set foot on our sites. A safe environment allows for social, emotional, and spiritual growth as campers choose to take on challenges.

As we have considered guidelines from the American Camp Association, the CDC, and the New York State Department of Health that begin to lay out what social distancing, PPE, sanitization, and quarantine protocols would need to be in place in order for summer programs to run. We have come to understand that these measures would force new challenges on campers and staff and would not allow for the kind of nurturing environment on which our programs rely. Members of our communities who have a higher health risk would not be able to enter our environment at all.

Even with these new protocols in place, health and safety is not something we can confidently provide this summer in the context of the pandemic. While our staff are trained and have the experience to keep our community safe during normal camp activities, we are not all are trained medical professionals. Even with our best efforts, the risk to our communities is too great. The decision to suspend summer programs was made to protect not only our campers and staff, but every guest, volunteer, parent, sibling, and grandparent who is connected to our larger community.

Those who have already registered and made a payment toward a program will be contacted by their individual site by the end of next week to discuss their options going forward. The three options are:
◻ Receive a full refund,
◻ Transfer the payment to credit for 2021,
◻ Generously donate part or all your registration/deposit to the site of your choice, helping to sustain us through this summer.

While UNY summer program will not be running this year, this won’t be the last you’ll hear from us! All our sites are diligently working on plans for the summer, taking into consideration new updates on low-risk outdoor recreation opportunities from New York State, regional re-opening guidelines, and the ways in which our facilities and staff can continue to serve our communities. Updates from each site will continue to be shared both by email and on social media.

We know this is disappointing news and we share in your disappointment. This summer will look like no summer any of our sites has ever seen before, and the loss of summer program for this year has already begun to cause our hearts to grieve. But God’s steadfast love and faithfulness extends to our communities just as it has to all generations before us, and just as it will to the generations of happy campers for years to come. We draw now on God’s strength as we make the choice to keep our communities as safe as possible, and we pray every day for the health and wellbeing of every member of our wide network of Upper New York families. We are so grateful for the love and support we receive from you and will do all we can to love and support you in whatever ways we can during this time. We can’t wait to see you all again: safe, happy, and healthy.

In Christ,

The Camp & Retreat Ministries Staff and Committee

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