And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

I like writing these weekly updates, but often I find myself without very much to report. And this week is no different - the plan remains roughly the same as it was in our 28 April 2020 update. And what was that plan? Well, I am glad you asked:

  • All 2020 camper registrations have been cancelled, and Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp is presently closed; 
  • Instead of standard summer camp, we’re planning to run outdoor programs that are primarily self-supported, and family-centered;
  • On-site, at both Mountainous Site and at the Lake Site, we don't expect to host campers. Instead, we will be mostly running maintenance-type projects with most of our self-supported, family-centered programming running as outdoor recreation programs.

On the one hand, that isn't the summer we were praying for in October. It is not what we had planned. But there is a lot of good news in this story, too. For instance, I have it on good authority that COLTS is underway, and that the program participants are adapting with excellence and maturity to program alterations. The team at camp (which is effectively limited to COLTS and instructors, as well as a driver and cook) are in good spirits, and maintaining physical distancing like champs.

I have this on good authority, and not by direct personal observation because I myself am not permitted in the office, or in the lodge. This is part of our carefully managed approach to Covid-19 risk, which includes health risk to the community and to program participants. It also makes note of the importance of perception, and takes into account the possibility of intervention from authorities if we are not following approved guidelines, or even if we are not clear about the ways that we are endeavouring to make our programs safe. Success will mean that our ministry can continue, even in the midst of a pandemic.

As of today, Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp remains closed. No inessential people are allowed on site at all. Now, I personally believe that all humans are God’s image-bearers, and that there are no people who are inessential - we are made a little lower than the angels, and crowned with glory and honour. (Psalm 8:5) No one is inessential! 

But in another way - in a very real, and legally binding way - our practice at Crow is that anyone who can stay away, must stay away. And even those who are at camp are supposed to stay away from the lodge and office: which are restricted only to COLTS at this time.

It will not be this way forever. The plan for Alberta’s phased re-opening is slated to begin as soon as 14 May - and when we are allowed to reopen, then it seems we are allowed to have more than 15 employees on site… if I am reading this correctly!

I am still uncertain about what comes next. I don’t think I am alone in this; a lot of things are still uncertain! Two weeks ago, our update was a cancellation, based on Dr. Hinshaw’s guidance - and the guidance of the Alberta Camping Association! “The Alberta Camping Association (ACA) now recommends that no in-person summer programs take place in 2020.”

Then, one week later, Alberta released its three-phase relaunch strategy, and right there in Phase One - as soon as this Thursday, 14 May! - we are introduced to the tantalizing possibility that Summer camps may be permitted to re-open (with occupancy limits)!

This led to the Alberta Camping Association softening their previous position: “The ACA supports all camp professionals and understands that some organizations will be able to provide safe in person programming during the 2020 summer. Each camp should make the decision best for their individual circumstances.”

We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. Our thinking at this moment - and this is indeed conjecture, but not “wild speculation” - is this:

  1. Dr. Hinshaw’s announcement on 23 April had precisely the intended effect; it seems to me that the intention was that all camps would cancel all programs, so that the pace of re-launching summer camps could be carefully and strictly managed. 
  2. Guidance toward cancellation was deliberate, and that course has not been reversed. Whatever programs are able to run in the summer of 2020 will need to be very different in scope, and in terms of program management, than the programs that they replaced.
  3. The best approach - in a pandemic season, as in other seasons - is not merely to conform to the rules, but to Live Beyond The Rules

Living Beyond The Rules certainly means a fitting respect for governing authorities! But it also means that we are not to be “tossed back and forth by the waves,” to borrow a phrase from Ephesians 4. It means that our primary consideration is what is best for neighbours and best for our community.

To sum up:

  • We’re still planning toward running programs that are primarily self-supported, and family-centered.
  • I expect that we will be mostly running maintenance-type projects on-site, with most of our self-supported, family-centered programming running as outdoor recreation programs.

We’re watching with excitement and anticipation to see what will happen next!

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Relevant Links: - Guidelines for all Alberta businesses - Guidelines for Outdoor recreation (probably this is the most relevant guidance for Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp) - Guidelines for Daycamps (we haven't seen any guidelines for overnight camps just yet) - Guidelines for places of worship

May 12, 2020 By David Graham