I know that everyone has been extremely patient in allowing camp to postpone decision making about Term Camp this summer as long as has been practicably possible. And I thank you so much for that patience.
I thank you, too, for all of the other support that campers, parents and families, staff, associates, alum, and friends have offered during these unusual months for camp, for America, and for the world, as the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded.
All that kindness and support makes today’s announcement doubly difficult because I know that like me, so many of you hoped against hope that the kids could be out in the fresh air, basking in the sunshine, refreshened in the Greenbrier River, and side by side with friends after what we all expected might be an easing of quarantine-like restrictions in the summer without all the pronounced social distancing measures.
And so it is with heavy heart and a profound feeling of defeat that I must regrettably announce that we will not be able to hold Term Camp for Summer 2020.
I feel like I’ve put off the inevitable as long as I can. And believe me, I’d like to continue putting it off.
But everything from planning to details, travel to facilities, paperwork to supplies, staffing to programming, extra health care measures to just plain planning for the fun simply cannot hang in limbo any longer, no matter how much any of us wish for camp, or believe it to be the absolute best thing for kids who themselves have been too long in limbo and far too long indoors!
How We Got Here
A pandemic? Who could have imagined this?
I know viral pandemics have happened throughout human history but still, not in our lifetimes. It’s all very surreal and so much of the policy and procedures for managing a national (and international) health crisis remains out of our hands.
The bottom line with canceling is that while there is movement toward easing in West Virginia, we’re far from being allowed to have the numbers of people gathered to meet the needs of camp with all of our campers and staff well exceeding current recommended numbers.
Add to this that while West Virginia has addressed guidelines for summer camps being open, the recommendations are so onerous in staggered scheduling demands, physical distancing requirements, and new infrastructure to accommodate the physical distancing, that in the end camp becomes simply untenable for us, especially concerning meeting our mission to our campers.
Many of you joined me in lobbying for permission to operate camp, as well as to get clearer guidance about camp from West Virginia, and I thank you for that support and that passion for ‘Ghany.
But it wasn’t to be.
With so many unknowns remaining about the virus, and recent national events leaving many worried about a potential new spike in cases, the “known unknowns” are just too many, the waiting too long, and new requirements too far from what summer camp is at its heart.
I know that some of you have expressed endless patience, saying half-jokingly that all you need is one day’s notice to get your daughter down to camp! It helps lighten the mood to hear things like this, and is cheering when the days have been so hard.
But for others, planning and scheduling are more complex and the wait simply can’t be to the last minute. In all candor, camp can’t wait that long, either, for all the planning reasons listed above and more.
There is some outside chance that we might have other family retreat type opportunities to announce for later in the summer. Please stay tuned in the coming weeks and we’ll let you know what might be possible at our facilities.
In the meantime, I’m sad. And I’m angry. And I’m frustrated. And I’m tired. And I bet you are too. I know our campers will feel grief, and we must let them mourn a big loss in their young lives. I wrote a blog that might help you work through this with your campers, and we expect to have more resources in the coming days and weeks.
At the same time, as this all sinks in, we all must begin to let go…and to look ahead, to next summer.
There is a FAQ for you to read both on the financial piece for families, and for how this affects both staff members and those in our leadership programs. Please read that to answer any questions you may have.
I also have a video message and special challenge to all ‘Ghany Girls for you, below, with more of my thoughts as we face this hard decision together.
We’ll Meet Again
It’s true that our 99th summer will not be this year, but next, when we meet again on the banks of the Greenbrier River, more joyous than joyous for old friends and new, for the Gray and the Blue… enjoying camp to the fullest at long last!
And I have many details for current families to tend to that I’ve sent by email concerning your rollover or refund (and even donation) preferences.
But let me not bog down this message with all of that — you will receive it soon enough in your inbox.
Let me say here that you will ALL be missed — to a person!
Our moments will be missed. Our pedestrian moments just getting ready for a day around camp and our profound moments around a Campfire or at a Vespers — they will be missed.
Our songs sung at meals and Assembly, and our solemnity at Vespers and Campfire, they will be missed.
Our goofy skits and our laughing til we cry, they will be missed.
Our times of trying again…and then again to make that target shot or hit that tennis ball or guide that canoe, they will be missed.
Those dance shows and plays, they will be missed.
Those moments of elation, those times of collapsing from exhaustion after a day well spent — they will be missed.
Standing together as a camp community, arms around each other, singing Here’s a Health to our Camp Alleghany…that will be missed.
You will ALL be missed.
But you will not be forgotten. It will only be another year more, and so another year more sweet until we see each other again, ‘Ghany Girls.
And this too shall pass. If you’re a camper or staffer now in 50 years when you’re at camp reunions YOU will be the ones who say, “Remember that one summer of the pandemic how camp was cancelled? I was SO sad! But the next summer was so great, coming back, wasn’t it?”
And we will.
Until next summer…
— Elizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls