Grindstone Lake Bible Camp holding their annual Wilderness Camp last summer.

Children and parents alike are thanking Gov. Tim Walz for the decision to open summer kids’ camps for overnight lodging, especially after the extended duration of together time they’ve had with school closures amid the COVID-19 response.

Several camps had made the tough decision to close for the entirety of the summer with the uncertain regulations issued by Gov. Walz in response to the COVID-19 crisis. However, some camps took a chance, keeping the door open to a change in the lockdown restrictions should they be lifted. Minnesota’s Department of Health recently announced they would now allow camps to open up at normal capacity on July 1 with social distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols in place.

Among those camps who held out for good news was Grindstone Lake Bible Camp (GLBC) in Sandstone, Minn.

Kevin Burgess, GLBC camp director, said, “I am pleased with the decision to open up overnight camps. Although there was little hope for overnight camps in June for the 86th summer at Grindstone, we scheduled 13 weeks of a day camp program to help our local families, knowing that we could easily add in our overnight programs should we get the OK to do so.”

Burgess added that there is really no comparison to how summer camp actually benefits child development on many different levels. “There are few instances in life when you are given space to be yourself and challenge yourself in a judgment-free safe environment like camp,” said Burgess. “It can be such a transformational experience for campers to grow, make new friends and learn so much about themselves. Although the direction to allow camps to run overnight youth programs came in the ninth inning and is starting in the middle of a week, we have planned and prepared for this and are ready to continue serving children and their families through this pandemic. Every year is different, but this one in particular has been the most challenging to try and prepare for.”

More information on GLBC can be found at https://www.grindstonelakebiblecamp.org/.

Trout Lake Camp, located in Pine River, Minn., also announced that it will be open for summer camp sessions on July 5. “Based on that information (recent announcement from MDH), we have developed plans and protocols to start overnight youth camp on July 5,” stated Trout Lake Camps on their website. For more information on Trout Lake Camps, see https://troutlakecamps.org/.

Other camps such as Big Sandy, located in McGregor, and Camp Onomia, located in Onamia, have made the decision to close overnight camps for the summer but will be offering exciting alternatives.

Big Sandy Camp director Jared Jensen said, “We made the decision in the beginning of June to cancel our summer camp season because of COVID-19 and the lack of information regarding overnight camps that was available at that time. We decided to put our efforts into running family getaways that will be starting up in the beginning of July. We are very sad to not be able to offer our traditional overnight summer camps but are excited about our family getaways. We’re glad we will still be able to do ministry and provide a place for families to grow in the faith, despite unprecedented circumstances.”

Camp Onomia is closed for traditional summer camps but is offering Summer Splash programs. More information can be found at http://www.camponomia.org/index.htm.

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