COVID-19 continues to shape the landscape of ministry in the Canada and Bermuda Territory. To respond responsibly and effectively to the present realities, the decision has been made to not engage in overnight camping programs for the 2021 camping season. While we acknowledge that COVID-19 realities vary from region to region, the degree of the unknown and the need to engage in proactive planning for summer ministry made a territory-wide decision the most effective course of action.
This decision and announcement come with disappointment and a degree of heaviness and regret. Camp continues to be the most effective evangelistic ministry within the territory, and a truly fertile ground of spiritual and leadership development for everyone involved. Camping is a vital ministry that will continue within the territory. While we acknowledge the loss we may feel in this time, we celebrate and embrace that reality that the 2021 camping season has not been cancelled. Camping ministry will look different in 2021 but it will still take place.
In these days, the Canada Bermuda Youth team across the territory is actively engaged in designing a dynamic and adaptable plan for the 2021 summer ministry season. This collective plan is being developed to meet what we see to be the five key deliverables of Salvation Army camping ministry:
It is acknowledged that summer camping programs, both overnight and day camp, create an environment of safety for many children and youth who come from broken or unstable homes. Camp is a place to get away from the stresses of home and have a safe place to rest and find support.
Camping ministry develops community for both staff and campers. Campers are afforded an opportunity to connect with others, make friends, learn new skills, and have enriching experiences. At the same time, camp staff groups create rich Christian community that is rarely replicated in non-camp environments. Camp creates friends for life.
Camp offers an ideal environment for introducing people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. This reality holds true for both campers and camp staff.
Camp offers an ideal environment for leadership development and discipleship. For both lay and officer leadership, the camp environment is fertile ground for growth and development.
Through camping ministries, The Salvation Army provides a service to the public, particularly the segments of the public that are socially and economically depressed.
Some will be thinking back to summer 2020. We celebrate the many kingdom-building initiatives that took place last year, and at the same time learn from the ones that did not turn out as planned. We are now much more effectively positioned for the 2021 summer season than we were in the spring of 2020. Planning for all contingencies of camping in 2021 began in September of last year, and building off the successes and lessons of 2020 we are believing for a very impactful camping season.
What camping will look like in each division will be communicated in the days ahead. In the meantime, we ask you to join us in prayer for wisdom, clarity, and daring in these days of planning, and great harvest in the months ahead. Join us in trusting the Father as he continues to lead us into new things.