The safety of our campers and guests is always the first priority of Silver Lake Conference Center. We have compiled here all of our communication around the outbreak, as well as a list of Frequently Asked Questions and some ideas for making home school a little bit more like camp.
At Silver Lake, we teach our conferees to live the “4 Loves”: Love God, Love Your Neighbor, Love Yourself, and Love Creation. At certain times in our lives, we need to focus on one kind of love above others. For example, we recently celebrated Earth Day, which emphasizes “Love Creation.”
Love Your Neighbor
In this time of global pandemic, the Bridge Conference Ministers of the Southern New England Conference, the parent organization of Silver Lake, and your year-round Silver Lake staff have shifted to focus on “Love Your Neighbor.”
Each of us has had to make all kinds of sacrifices in our personal lives in order to protect the most vulnerable among us. As a Christian organization trying to teach our participants what it means to be disciples of Jesus, Silver Lake also has to make some difficult sacrifices in order to Love our Neighbors.
It is with very heavy hearts that we, in partnership with the Bridge Conference Ministers, announce our decision to cancel our in-person summer camp ministry in 2020.
Silver Lake’s first priority has always been, and continues to be, the health and safety of our campers, staff, and volunteers. And now, we also have to be concerned for the health and safety of their families and the people they may come into contact with when they leave camp. Our neighborhood has gotten a lot bigger.
Silver Lake staff members have spent the last month in conversation with national and local government offices and camp professionals. We have spent hours on webinars and video meetings to learn everything we can about holding camp safely in the midst of a global pandemic. Based on those conversations, along with prayerful discernment, it became clear that providing an authentic Silver Lake overnight summer program was not possible this year.
Silver Lake is committed to providing an opportunity to encounter God’s love in creation, a chance to be seen and loved for exactly who you are. We deeply value the experience of each individual who comes to camp and want to ensure positive outcomes for all. Under the current guidelines for operating camp, Silver Lake will not be Silver Lake. Building community requires proximity to express the love and acceptance that allows our campers to be their true selves, the hallmark of a Silver Lake experience.
We understand how much summer camp at Silver Lake means to you and your family. All of the year-round staff at Silver Lake are lifelong camp people; we, too, deeply feel the disappointment of not holding in-person summer camp this year. Please be sure to reach out for support from your networks. If you need help explaining this decision to your young people, we’ve put together a brief guide to help you shape your conversation.
Throughout all of this, remember that we are united in Christ and in God’s love. Though we are apart, our faith keeps us connected. Silver Lake is committed to continuing to nurture our faith community throughout the summer and beyond. We are developing programs to support your family at home in developing faith, learning about each other, and having fun.
The leadership of the Southern New England Conference and of Silver Lake Conference Center is committed to sustaining this life-changing outdoor ministry for decades to come. This careful stewardship requires sometimes making hard decisions. In addition, it requires your support as we move forward into an uncertain future. We ask you to faithfully consider how you can financially support Silver Lake this year.
In the next week, we will reach out to everyone who has registered for a 2020 summer conference to determine how to move forward. We encourage each family to discern whether they are able to roll payments forward toward the 2021 summer, convert payments into donations, or whether they would prefer a refund. Silver Lake is committed to supporting our families in this difficult time and will make sure that anyone who needs a refund is able to obtain one.
We are committed to offering our ministry in a new format and will send out a survey to determine what programs will best serve you this summer. We appreciate your feedback as we sculpt our summer offerings.
Remember, it only takes a spark to keep our ministry alive. We’re counting on you to pass it on.
Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer, Executive Director
Rev. Marilyn Kendrix, Bridge Conference Minister
Rev. Don Remick, Bridge Conference Minister
Rev. Kent Siladi, Bridge Conference Minister
Dear Silver Lake Families,
We hope this email finds you and your family healthy and calm in this anxious time. In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we are writing today to share with you the steps Silver Lake is taking to ensure that our campers and guests stay healthy.
At this time, Silver Lake has opted to close to retreat groups for 30 days. This is in line with current recommendations and procedures from our state government. Affected retreat groups have been notified. We have canceled our Maple Sugaring weekend and refunded all participants. We are hoping to reschedule our Counselor Retreat and Women’s Yoga and Music Spirit Retreat, and will send out more information about that when we are able to.
Summer camp is still more than three months away, which is a very long time when dealing with a health issue like COVID-19. We at Silver Lake are monitoring the situation closely and will follow the advice of the state agencies that regulate summer camps and the American Camp Association (ACA). We will take every precaution possible to ensure that camp is safe by the time our summer session begins. We will continually evaluate our practices, incorporating new information and best practices as they become available to us.
With the help of our Medical Director, we are updating our current health policies and screenings, adapting them to ensure camper health. Silver Lakes uses a peroxide sanitizer that is approved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for use in controlling the Coronavirus. We will continue our regular sanitizing of sleeping and communal areas, and add a focus on doorknobs, light switches, and other high-touch areas. We will continue to follow industry standards in our food preparation, which includes a staff member who is ServSafe certified.
As we modify policies or learn new information, we will communicate what we know with you. We hope to send email updates on a regular basis, and we will post them on our Facebook page as well. We have also created a page on our website, www.silverlakect.org/coronavirus, where we will post updates and policy changes.
As a reminder, our summer camp cancelation policy is to refund payments made above the non-refundable deposit. If it becomes necessary to cancel sessions, we will inform you of any changes to the cancelation policy.
In addition to the page on the Silver Lake website, the Southern New England Conference has compiled a very useful and up-to-date resource page at www.sneucc.org/coronavirus.
If you are unsure of what is helpful to say to your camper(s) or you notice they are struggling with the stress of this situation, the National Association of School Psychologists has put together Talking to Children about COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Resource for Parents .
We hope that everyone is staying safe and keeping busy during this difficult time. We will use our social media accounts (Facebook: @SilverLakeCT; Instagram: silverlakeconfcenter) to share resources for families who are at home while schools are closed. Silver Lake has lots of fun activities to share, and maybe home school can be a little bit more like camp.
We are looking forward to happy and healthy summer 2020 program at Silver Lake!
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer
What are Silver Lake’s plans for summer camp?
On May 1, 2020, we made the difficult decision to cancel our in-person summer program for 2020. Read the letter to our community.
What does Silver Lake do to prevent the transmission of communicable diseases?
Silver Lake’s regular housekeeping routine includes sanitizing bunks, mattresses, and bathrooms with a peroxide cleaner that is approved by the CDC for use in sterilizing surfaces that may have come into contact with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are adding in additional deep cleaning of all living spaces, with a focus on doorknobs, light switches, and other high-touch areas.
Silver Lake requires a staff member who is certified in ServSafe to be in the kitchen whenever we are offering food service. CDC-approved cleaning products are used in the kitchen as well, and we schedule regular deep cleaning.
Campers and retreat participants are reminded and encouraged to wash their hands before meals. Hand sanitizer is available in the dining hall.
What about Silver Lake’s retreat ministry?
Silver Lake welcomes retreat guests from September to May. In accordance with the recommendations of the State of Connecticut, Silver Lake has closed to retreat groups through the first weekend of May. We will monitor the progression of the COVID-19 virus and reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. We are taking advantage of the closure to deep clean all of our retreat buildings, as well as our kitchen and dining hall.
As a donor to Silver Lake, how can I help?
We are blessed by our many dedicated donors. Parents, alumni, and friends are vital supporters of this ministry. We are particularly grateful for our friends who recognize the hardships a ministry like Silver Lake faces during a health crisis that causes us to close our doors for any period of time. Interested donors can make a contribution at www.silverlakect.org/donate. THANK YOU for your support of this life-changing ministry.
Here are some fun ways to make the most of school closures. Bring a little bit of Silver Lake into your home. Check back often; we will be updating!
The Faith Formation Team of the Southern New England Conference also has a resource list.
Silver Lake-Themed Activities
Virtual Campfires: Each Wednesday at 4 p.m., join us on our Facebook page for a virtual campfire!
In honor of Earth Day, the University of Montevallo put together a bunch of great videos, activities, and crafts.
There are a number of fun identification apps to try out with your children.
iNaturalist is a community of nature lovers from all over the world. Not sure what kind of fern you found in your backyard? Post a pic and get an identification!
Merlin, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is a bird identification app.
Six Kid-Friendly Bird Guides, from Audubon.
Arts & Crafts Activities
Tyler's Easter Bunny Party Hat
Make a dome out of cardboard. For when you can't race cardboard boats.
Silver Lake dean Val Tutson is offering daily storytelling on her Facebook page this week at 11:30 a.m.