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.”
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.