COVID-19 Response

The safety of our campers, guests, staff, and volunteers is always the first priority of Silver Lake. We are continually reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure we are following the best practices of the camping and retreat industry, as well as applicable state and federal guidelines.

Included on this page:

Vaccine Requirement Announcement

Summer Camp


Adventure Programming

Silver Lake Day & Weekend Programs

Past Communication

Vaccine Requirement

Silver Lake follows the immunization requirements for students enrolled in Connecticut schools.

In addition, Silver Lake requires all guests to our site to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. If your camper has a medical exemption, please contact us for more information.

Email:; Phone: 860-364-5526

As a ministry of the Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ (SNE UCC), Silver Lake adheres to all the policies put in place by the Conference. Read the SNE UCC Covid Policy for Sites and Events.

Summer Camp

We are working hard to provide a safe, nurturing environment that will allow campers to connect with each other, their counselors, God, and creation in Silver Lake's 60+ wooded acres.

Silver Lake will follow best practices for Covid mitigation, which may include testing, cohorting, and masking. Please pay attention to email communication from Silver Lake in the months before camp and check the website regularly for updates. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to get information on current policies. The most current policies can be found here and will be updated to reflect policy updates.


Silver Lake is open for Retreat Groups! Host your group retreat at Silver Lake and find perspective, discover your inspiration, build community, and experience a greater connection to the world around you. Learn more about Retreats at Silver Lake here.

We are now booking Family Retreats, a chance for you to bring your family on retreat to Silver Lake. Plan time away to unplug and reconnect, to explore your faith together and listen for God in the woods at camp.

For rates, availability, and reservations, email

Adventure Programming

Silver Lake is able to run Adventure Programming (field games, low ropes, high ropes) with day groups. For information about booking a program, email

Read our Adventure Program Covid-19 Strategies.

Silver Lake Day & Weekend Programs

We have several opportunities to experience Silver Lake programming during fall, winter, and spring.

Our weekend overnight programs offer a wonderful opportunity for young people to re-unite with friends made during the summer camp programs or to experience the magic of Silver Lake for the first time.

The intergenerational day programs give families and Silver Lakers of all ages a chance to play and enjoy camp together.

Learn more about our Weekend Programs, and visit our Camp Sessions page for additional information on our upcoming programs.

Past Communication

We have compiled here all of our communication around the outbreak, information as we work to safely reopen, as well as a list of Frequently Asked Questions and some ideas for making home a little bit more like camp.

Overnight Family Retreats

Day Visits

May 1 Letter to Our Community

March 14 Letter to Familes

Coronavirus FAQ

At Home Camp Activities

Overnight Family Retreats

September 4, 2020

Silver Lake is excited to announce the next phase in reopening: Overnight Family Retreats! 

Reserve a building for your family, roommates, household  – your “quaran-team” – for an overnight stay at Silver Lake. 

Walk the trails, play disc golf, spend time with your family, and unplug. Immerse yourself in the calm and natural beauty of Silver Lake.

Reconnect. Recenter. Retreat to Silver Lake.

Some things to consider: 

  • Your group will have your own building! 
    • Only your group will have access to your building during your stay. 
    • Please do not enter other buildings. 
    • In the event of an emergency, staff will respond appropriately and safely. 
  • You will be responsible for preparing, cooking, and serving all your own meals.  
    • Food, dishes, utensils, etc. have been removed from the buildings. You will need to bring all food service items you will need. 
  • Silver Lake is not able to provide certified staff at this time. While you are on site, the lake and other restricted areas are off-limits: swimming waterfront, boating waterfront, low ropes course, high ropes course, and the garden. 
  • The Silver Lake No’s Apply: No Pets, No Fireworks, No Alcohol, No Illegal Drugs, No Smoking, No Weapons, No Aggressive Behavior, No Sexual Misconduct. 
  • Please note: In addition to your group and Silver Lake staff, there may be others on site, including other overnight retreat guests and day visitors. 

We at Silver Lake are doing everything we can to keep the facilities clean and safe, whether we have guests on site or not. Silver Lake is following CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting. 

Email Stephanie for additional details, rates, and availability. 

Day Visits

July 2, 2020

Dear Friends, 

Silver Lake Conference Center is excited to announce a unique outdoor opportunity for summer 2020: Day Visits! 

Bring your family, roommates, household - anyone that lives with you – for a visit to enjoy the natural beauty of Silver Lake. 

Pack a picnic, walking shoes, sunscreen, lawn chairs, bug spray, basketballs, water – anything you might want to enhance your outdoor experience. Trash cans, disc golf baskets, and basketball hoops are available for use. Lawn games, sports equipment, and picnic tables will not be supplied. 

A restroom will be provided, but all other buildings will be closed. In addition, all specialized areas (swimming and boating waterfronts, low and high ropes courses, and the garden) are off-limits for everyone’s safety.  

For more information, and to reserve a day, visit

We ask that your group be limited to those that live together, with a group maximum of 8 people. If you would like your group to be more than 8, please call the Silver Lake office at 860-364-5526. 

There is no charge for your visit, but donations are appreciated. They help Silver Lake remain vibrant and ensure that summer 2021 is even more amazing. Donation details available at 

The Silver Lake No's apply this summer as well: No Pets, No Fireworks, No Alcohol, No Illegal Drugs, No Weapons, No Aggressive Behavior, No Smoking, No Sexual Misconduct. 

We are excited to provide an opportunity for members of our community to enjoy some time at our beautiful site, in a unique and different way than ever before. 

If you have any questions, please email or call the office at 860-364-5526. 

Read through the Day Visit Safety Guidelines


Complete the Silver Lake Contact Information Form

May 1, 2020

Dear Friends, 

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. 

Love Yourself 

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. 

Love God 

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. 

In Christ, 

Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer, Executive Director 

Rev. Marilyn Kendrix, Bridge Conference Minister 

Rev. Don Remick, Bridge Conference Minister 

Rev. Kent Siladi, Bridge Conference Minister 

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? 

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 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

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.

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

Arts & Crafts Activities

Tyler's Easter Bunny Party Hat

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 Camp & Retreat Center

Silver Lake Camp & Retreat 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 |