Christian Camps Tried to Keep COVID-19 Away. It Didn’t Always Work.


Can schools learn from summer successes and outbreaks?

Even with increased safety protocols in place, some Christian camps could not keep out COVID-19 this summer.

Week after week, the headlines tracked the outbreaks: 82 cases at Camp Kanakuk in Missouri, an evangelical camp that draws kids from 10 states. Dozens at a church camp in Keller, Texas, and more at Allaso Ranch in Hawkins, Texas, where kids worshiped together unmasked. At least 54 people at Springs Ministries Summer Camp in Michigan tested positive. Another 25 campers and staff, all under 20, caught the virus at Trout Creek Bible Camp in Oregon.

Then, a Centers for Disease Control investigation revealed the largest case: a single YMCA camp session in Lake Burton, Georgia, where 260 of the 597 campers and staff members (44%) contracted the virus within days.

According to the Christian Camping and Conference Association (CCCA), the outbreaks represent a minority of its 870 member camps, only 7 percent of which had reported confirmed COVID-19 cases among campers or staff last month. Camp High Harbor, the YMCA camp in Georgia, is not a CCCA member.

“CCCA has encouraged our members who have chosen to open to stringently follow the CDC guidelines and to adhere to local health department regulations,” CCCA president Gregg Hunter said. “The report out of Georgia punctuates that need with an emphasis on the need for vigilance in mask-wearing.”

As CT previously reported, camps wrestled with regulations and risks in the spring, and many opted to cancel in-person programing (62% of camps overall, according to a survey by camp technology platform CampMinder). Some, like Kanakuk in Missouri, opened but then canceled when the coronavirus situation changed.

Even though Camp High Harbor …

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