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.


March 14 Letter to Familes

Coronavirus FAQ

At Home Camp Activities

March 14, 2020

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,, 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

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 

Executive Director 

Frequently Asked Questions


What are Silver Lake’s plans for summer camp? 

Silver Lake is planning to offer 7 weeks of outdoor encounters with God’s love. We will follow the guidelines put out by our state government and by the American Camp Association (ACA) to ensure that all of our participants remain safe and healthy.  

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 killing 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. 

Will Silver Lake have international staff this summer? 

Over the past several years, Silver Lake has welcomed summer staffers from Poland and England through Camp America and CIEE. We are hopeful that we will again be able to welcome international staff to Silver Lake. As the summer gets closer, we will follow the Centers for Disease Control’s travel advisories and make changes as needed to our staffing.  

Will there be restrictions on who can volunteer this summer? 

We depend on our volunteers! They are an amazing group of selfless, kind, fun, wacky, compassionate people dedicated to showing each camper they are loved by God for exactly who they are. All volunteers undergo comprehensive background checks and must complete both online and in-person training. Volunteers are also required to submit a signed physical and to complete the same health screening as campers. As with our camper screening, we will modify our volunteer screening based on the recommendations of our state government and the CDC. 

Can I still register for camp?

Yes! As of right now, camp is still on for 2020. Register online to reserve your spot!

What if I decided to cancel my registration due to Coronavirus? Will I get a refund?

Silver Lake's policy is to refund payments made by June 1 over the initial, non-refundable $150 deposit. Payments are non-refundable after June 1. If Silver Lake cancels a program, we will communicate with participants about any changes in the cancelation policy.

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 Easter. 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 THANK YOU for your support of this life-changing ministry. 

Bring Silver Lake Home with You

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

Silver Lake Bingo, home edition. Take photos or video of your efforts and send them to or post with the hashtag #silverlakeBINGO

Virtual Campfires: Each Wednesday at 4 p.m., join us on our Facebook page for a virtual campfire!

Virtual Campfire, March 25

Nature Activities

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.

How to make a pitfall trap to catch insects and other minibeasts.

Arts & Crafts Activities

McHarper Manor is offering a weekly list of arts projects, complete with a supply list that can be purchased on Amazon.

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.

Day 1: One Tough Lady

Day 2: Anansi and Snake

Day 3: Zora Neal Hurston

Day 4: Atariba and Niguayona

Day 5: Elizabeth Freeman

Silver Lake Conference Center

Silver Lake Conference Center is a ministry of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Click here to read our Mission Statement.

223 Low Road | Sharon, CT 06069 | 860.364.5526 | Fax: 860.364.1000 |