CAMP IN A BOX: Time for Kids and Young People During COVID-19

July 02, 2020

The saying, "In every crisis, there is an opportunity," is not new under the sun. Our scheduled summer camps, retreats and other group events have been cancelled at our campsites namely, Monte Toyon Camp, Camp Lodestar, Waller Center, Shasta Camp and Camp Kelly.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already caused about 127,000 deaths already in the US and new cases are still rising up in California. Our Board of Camping and Retreat Ministries is very determined and intentional in following of the guidelines from Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the States of California and Nevada, and the protocols from our California Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Our summer camp directors, Jenna Stark and Alex Castile along with other staff members, Meg Fletcher, Will Montgomery, Rev. Shirley Macemon, Shari Sandoval and I came to the United Methodist Center in West Sacramento on June 26th to prepare about 120 boxes for kid campers, youth Leaders-In-Training, and staff members for an adaptive ministry during the time of pandemic, "CAMP IN A BOX." The group followed the protocols created by the Task Force on Protocols of the CNUMC with the practice of social distancing and wearing masks. Eighty four (84) boxes were sent out by flat priority mail and the rest were home delivered.

We hope that, "CAMP IN A BOX," would be able to provide a ministry of belongingness and strengthen the spirit of community though we are not coming together in person. We wanted to process the question, "What is the future of camping ministry?" as we are very much challenged by the pandemic. TIME news magazine came up with an offering to children and families it called, "TFK: Time for Kids." This shows that we are in the right direction of working creatively and with resourcefulness.

Be safe. Stay healthy. Wear masks/face coverings.
A Word from Jenna Stark, Tyon Camp Director
I hope this email finds you well.  My name is Jenna Stark, director of Toyon Camp. This is my 5th year as director and my 18th summer of camp! Toyon Camp holds a very special place in my heart.  From being a camper, to an LIT, counselor, and now director I have always LOVED camp and everything it offers.

During these unprecedented times I am incredibly thankful for our camping community.  The decision to cancel physical camp was very hard, but the health and safety of our campers and staff will always be my #1 priority.

Our virtual week of camp will be different, but I am thankful that we were able to think of a fun and innovative way to keep the spirit of summer camp alive!

In the next few days/weeks a box will be delivered to your home filled with camp activities and goodies.  I know your kids will be excited, feel free to have them open the boxes, but I encourage you to have them hold off from doing the crafts or other activities until our "week" of virtual camp which will take place 7/6-7/10.

During our week of camp we will have daily morning worships via zoom where we will get to worship together, hear the bible story for the day, hear the key bible verse from the day, and dive into our daily theme.  I will also use that time to make daily announcements and share the craft of the day they can work on.

Additionally, every day there will be zoom meetings for camper small groups.  In your camp in a box package you will find a page with information regarding the times and meeting ID for your campers assigned small group.  They are broken into small groups depending on their age and grade.  These Zoom small group meetings will allow for campers to connect with our wonderful counselors, meet or reconnect with other campers, and dive into a devotional study of our daily theme and bible story.

We will also have some supplemental virtual activities such as our famous camp talent show, a virtual dance party, and a virtual campfire where we can enjoy and assemble the s'more kits from their camp in a box.

We are completely aware that everyone has varying schedules during the summer. Feel free to have your camper join in with any of the virtual activities they want to or what they feel comfortable with.

#TeamToyon has been working tirelessly to get our "Camp in a Box" and virtual camp week up and going.  It has been a labor of love, but we are so excited to be able to provide a "week" of camp to all of our campers and staff.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns during our week of camp or about our virtual week please feel free to reach out to me via email or phone.