This year’s Disciples/UCC Church Camp (DUCC) will not be held June 15-20, 2020 due to the continuing health threats posed by COVID-19. This was a very difficult decision for us in both the Southwest Conference UCC and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Arizona, but we felt it a necessary one to maintain the safety of everyone involved, plus be good stewards of time and finances in this unprecedented time.
Scroll down to read Plan DUCC—the FAQ about cancelling camp.
Scroll down to read DUCC @ home: Disciples-UCC Caring Community—what we’re offering to camp families.
PLAN DUCC 2020
This year’s Disciples/UCC Church Camp (DUCC) will not be held June 15-20, 2020 due to the continuing health threats posed by COVID-19. This was a very difficult decision for us in both the Southwest Conference UCC and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Arizona, but we felt it a necessary one to maintain the safety of everyone involved, plus be good stewards of time and finances in this unprecedented time. Here are some answers to questions you may have.
WHY ARE WE CANCELLING CAMP SO EARLY? CAN’T WE WAIT AND SEE?
At the point of this decision, any “good news” seems slow in coming from the CDC or state and national sources regarding an alleviation of concern over COVID-19 and its exponential spread. More sources seem to be pointing toward the worse is still in front of us, at least in Arizona, and we don’t yet know when it will pass, and especially how to best ease back into communal activities in a safe way without risking another spike in the virus. Some of the factors taken into consideration are:
- The continued need to be faithful and conscientious in our practice of social distance and self-quarantining.
- Other UCC Conferences and DOC Regions are all wrestling with the same issues regarding camp. Many have already cancelled their camps, at least through June.
- Wanting to be mindful and respectful of the financial dynamics being experienced by both our families and churches, that may find their ability to pay for camp and camp scholarships a hardship this year.
- Recognizing that even if restrictions are lifted and everyone is back to work by June, the adults that normally generously donate their time to staff camp, may not be able to actually take vacation time away from work to support the camp program this year.
- This spring season is high camp planning time. We want to put our attention, energy, and creativity for planning something that serves our youth, families, and churches in the best and most effective way possible in this changing time with our CAMP values (Community, Affirming self and others, Making meaning, and Practicing our faith).
WHAT IF I REGISTERED AND ALREADY PAID?
If you have registered and paid for camp already you will automatically receive a refund on the credit card you initially used. If you would like to instead donate those registrations to the joint camp program to be used for next year’s camp, please email Matthew Clark (DOC Regional Office) firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions about the refund, please contact Matthew Clark at the same email or call 602-468-3815 and leave a message.
HAS CAMP EVER BEEN CANCELLED BEFORE?
Yes. In 2002, there was severe fire danger and several major fires in Arizona. National and state parks were closed as well as all campgrounds. Both the SWC and the DOC camps were cancelled. Camps were able to resume fully the following year without negative effects.
WHAT ABOUT NEXT YEAR?
We would anticipate being able to resume a full DUCC week next year.
We’ve had so many changes in recent years, will camp survive next year?
Yes, we have had many changes in recent years. Each have yielded greater sustainability to our camp program. We hope and anticipate that the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” adage will apply, and camp-loving families, adults, and congregations will be extra eager to make camp a priority when it resumes in 2021.
Will we be able to keep our week reserved with Emmanuel Pines?
Yes. Emmanuel-Pines continues to be very gracious and understanding of all their clients. We especially have a well-established relationship that is valued by both the SWC/AZDOC and Emmanuel-Pines. Our deposit will carry over to the same week next year: June 14-19, 2021.
What about Emmanuel Pines? What will our cancellation mean to them?
Currently, Emmanuel Pines is telling us that they are making every effort to stay open, yet abide by state regulations and CDC protocols for social distancing, health, sanitation and disinfection. They are experiencing group cancellations and are attempting to adapt to the situation by renting out their smaller cabins as AirBNBs to any family or small group that would like to use them. Should stay-at-home restrictions be lifted by the summer, our families and local churches are encouraged to consider using Emmanuel Pines for vacations or retreats to assist them financially get through this year. Donations are also welcome, and contact can be made through their website, https://emmanuelpines.com. Please know, all camp facilities and organizations, including our denominations, that run and sponsor summer camps are having these same conversations!
Best ways to insure camp next year:
Continue your support of our youth and camp funds in both of our denominations. In the Southwest Conference, continue your generous support individually and through churches to our Sow the Seed fund. In the Arizona Region (DOC), continue your generous support to our Youth and Children’s Ministry Fund. Plan your calendar ahead! Next year’s camp week is June 14-19, 2021.
ARE THERE ANY ALTERNATIVES BEING PLANNED FOR CAMP?
We have already been thinking of possible alternative experiences. For instance, we know that with the postponement of UCC National Youth Event our national staff is planning on holding some virtual events for youth on the dates of May 30, June 28, July 24-25. Also, the Disciples Tri-Regional Youth Leadership event is also being revised to be something other than an in-person event. No specific details about those are available yet, but they will be publicized as soon as we receive them. Now that in-person camp plans are suspended, we will continue to work on alternative ideas for our youth and families, though we recognize there is no virtual substitute for the depth and breadth of an actual camp experience! You are invited to see what ideas we are working with in the document entitled “DUCC@HOME!”
DUCC @ Home
Disciples-UCC Caring Community
With the cancellation of our Disciples-UCC Church Camp in June due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and “stay-at-home” orders, we have been faced with what we might offer to our camp families instead. After brainstorming a lot of different options, we are choosing to pursue a plan that would not seek to create a “virtual” camp experience (because…well, that’s really not possible, right?) After doing some research, we realize that families have already had long weeks of needing to both work from home and do school work for often multiple kids and adults all via the internet and bazillions of zoom meetings. That made us wonder (and possibly doubt!) if a whole new week of programming would really be a welcome thing…particularly when one of the main values of camp is to DISCONNECT from technology, and reconnect with each other and the outside world of nature.
These weeks of pandemic quarantining and social distancing have created many changes in our lives and the way we relate to each other. There are new stresses and strains, and new skills that need to be learned. There is much that is unknown and many things that are constantly changing. Our families are living on the edge of great stress and strain with all the adaptation to a new reality that we are all engaged in. So, we finally settled on a spiritual paradigm we are borrowing from Celtic Christianity: strengthening our community and families by connecting with the sacred in the daily things we are already doing, creating sacred spaces and spiritual formation moments for youth and families that are rooted within the new reality of our daily lives.
We believe that HOME is the primary place of spiritual nurture and development. Our camp program is normally a way that we invite children and youth to extend the familiarity, hospitality, and nurturing of home to others that are not part of our biological families, and also see the natural world as our home. It makes sense to us to not try to add more online virtual camp programming to our over-stressed families, but offer resources and opportunities that will help families in their own time and schedules, to deepen and make meaning in the midst of things they are already doing together, such as finding alone time, mealtimes, waking and bedtimes, finding creative things to do together, ways to reflect on shared activities, finding God in the ordinary, etc.
We are in the process of gathering some folks from our churches we know are extraordinary educators, creative artists, and family spiritual formation nurturers to help us identify and create resources for families. We anticipate it will span the summer months at least, and may include special spaces on our Conference/Regional website, a private group on Facebook so families may connect with each other safely and post their experiences, fun and instructional videos, simple rituals, suggestions for art and music and environmental awareness right around our homes and yards. Many resources will be available to everyone. Also we may have a registration for families wanting to take advantage of ways to interact and connect with each other and for kids to reconnect with camp friends in a safe and secure way, and perhaps have access to special project resources. As details unfold, they will be publicized in the coming weeks as we continue to embrace our adaptive challenges and solidify our planning. Stay tuned!
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