COVID-19: Important Update for Summer 2020

Summer Camp 2020 Announcement

To our Valued Guests and Camp Family,

Thank you so much for your patience with us during this time. As many of you know, we have been in a holding pattern for several weeks now in hopes that camp could happen as scheduled. During this time we have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation very carefully. While planning for this summer, we have considered a multitude of factors, including government restrictions, the health and safety of our campers, counselors, and staff, and our ability to physically prepare for camp amongst all of the current restrictions. It is hard to imagine, we have gone from planning one of the best summers ever, to monitoring COVID-19 and wondering what will this summer look like?

Since mid-March we have closely monitored the guidelines, regulations, and recommendations handed down by the state of NC, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Camping Association, and have talked with officials at our local health department. Though our governor has outlined a 3 phase approach to reopening North Carolina, absent from that plan are specific guidelines for camps regarding food service and cabin housing, as well as a defined number or percentage (based on capacity) of people allowed on campus during each ‘phase’. Without this critical information, it has made it extremely difficult to make the decisions we need to make.

But based on the limited information we do have, we have become convinced that the summer camp programs we have historically run with much success would need to be altered significantly this summer.  While the health and safety of our campers is always forefront in our thinking, we also desire our programs to provide opportunities for spiritual growth, healthy relationships, and of course, fun.   We recognize there are many factors beyond our control which could greatly impact the way our camps would need to operate to be in compliance, and believe it would be difficult to create the open and loving community environment we desire. In short, any program we offer at SMBC this summer would not resemble the one your campers signed up for.

Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that we, along with our Board at South Mountain Baptist Camp have come to the decision to cancel all overnight camp sessions this summer.

Despite being a unanimous decision by the board and myself, this was an extremely painful and heartbreaking decision for us. I know you’re disappointed. Suspending camp for the season is a tremendous loss for campers and staff members who have been longing for that time each summer where you can reunite with best friends, laugh uncontrollably, use your imaginations, and experience God.

We were excited about our 2020 schedule and the upcoming camp season.  For the last nine months we have looked forward to the privilege of introducing young campers to the Lord Jesus through their camp experience. To us, the thought of having to wait until 2021 to welcome you back to the mountain is unacceptable. So we are already exploring new, unique opportunities to offer safe, fun, spiritually significant camp experiences. Within the next week we will be sharing with you some exciting new ways that you can connect with South Mountain Baptist Camp this summer!

For those of you that had paid deposits for this summer, we will contact you this week to describe your options regarding those payments. If you need to talk with us earlier, feel free to call us at 828-437-8788 or send us an email.

Thank you so much for your prayers and understanding as we work through this unprecedented situation. We are praying for you during this time and we appreciate each and every one of you that are a part of our family. Please feel free to reach out with prayer requests and let us know how we can help you.

Praying with you,
Al Tinnin

COVID Response Document

SMBC Response Document
For a more detailed description of our response to the COVID virus, please contact us through this website.


Summer Camp 2020 FAQ

By now you have been made aware of the difficult decision that has been made to suspend our scheduled summer camps for 2020. This has been an incredibly difficult roller coaster ride of emotions for us over the last two months as we agonized over this. We eat, breathe, and sleep camp and have been preparing for this summer since last September. A summer without campers…it’s unthinkable! But that’s where we are.

I wish I could talk to you face to face but in lieu of that, I wanted to anticipate some of your questions and address them.

If the community health situation changes, is it possible that South Mountain will put together some camps later in the summer?

We do not plan to schedule any traditional overnight camps this summer. We can’t predict if or how circumstances will change, and even if they do improve, we do not believe it will be appropriate to run regular camp programs.  There is a possibility of hosting an overnight Family camp in early August that in the current climate would be easier to pull off safely. We will share news of anything we come up with.

If we’ve paid our deposit or more for summer camp, what happens to that money?

That is your choice. We’re asking you to allocate your payments to any combination of the following three options. You don’t have to use more than one, you can pick 100% for any one of these if that’s your preference. We will do what is best for you!

1. Apply towards future programs
As restrictions loosen we will be creating opportunities this summer for children’s groups called One Day at Camp events. For youth groups, we are planning a Winter Youth Retreat that we are going to schedule over the MLK weekend in January. You also can transfer any funds paid toward a self planned weekend retreat as soon as we are able to host groups again. There are other options that we are discussing at this time, maybe Camp in a Box??? We can even hold your payment as credit in your account and apply it to your deposit for next summer’s camp. This is the default option if we do not hear from you.

2. Donation to South Mountain
As you can imagine, as a not-for-profit ministry with limited cash reserves, losing our spring retreat season and suspending summer programming puts South Mountain in a very difficult financial position.  Any gift to South Mountain will help us weather the storm and come back stronger.  For those able to make all or any of their payment into a donation – our gratitude is real and deep!

3. Refund
Whatever portion of the camp fees you would like refunded will be done. When contacted by Sara, just indicate this as your preference.

Can I still get a camp t-shirt for 2020?

We still plan to do a t-shirt and will let you know how you can order one in the weeks ahead. Any groups that choose Options 1 or 2 related to their deposit paid will receive t-shirts for their group based on the number of spaces you reserved.

Is South Mountain closed altogether for the summer?

No. Keep an eye out for “Summer 2020: REBOOT.” We will be creating some in-person / at-camp programming (if permitted), as well as some camp in a box programs.

Can families rent or use South Mountain or some of its facilities during the summer?

Yes.  We are putting the finishing touches on “Summer 2020: REBOOT.” Living within the government prescribed requirements (social distancing, etc.) we plan to offer opportunities such as Family Picnic at camp, fishing, and maybe even a Family camp which would be a first for us. More information will come in the weeks ahead.

Is South Mountain in danger of closing down because of this?

Obviously we hope not, and the unknown length of economic impact makes it impossible to be 100% confident. We are in a position where we will dramatically reduce expenses and we have every intention on making it through this. South Mountain has had tough times before, and this will be another. Our community of donors and volunteers always welcomes more people, and we will partner with those donors, and do all we can in new programming development to position ourselves for future ministry.

Is there any help South Mountain needs right now?

We need your prayers. We love volunteers and survive by the generosity of our donors. We’d love for you to share the various programs that we’ll be developing. With your help, we’ll get through this period.

Can you share some of the decision-making process?

In the time since mid-March, we have examined any and all information about this virus and the recommendations put forth by the CDC and the state of NC. Absent any clear direction, we have had to extrapolate using recommendations for day care facilities and day camps along with congregant housing situations like dormitories. In addition we have been in conversations with other camping professionals through our affiliation with Christian Camps and Conferences Association, and sought advice from our local Health Department.

And we’ve tried to imagine…what would camp be like if we tried to push ahead? We’ve wrestled with questions like,

  • Could we get the recommended supplies (masks, sanitizer, gloves, etc.)?
  • Could we get all our campers to wear masks? Would it be ok for them to not wear the mask while eating, sleeping?
  • Could we keep campers 6 ft. apart without exhausting campers and counselors with continued admonishment?
  • What would chapel services look like?
  • How would everyone share toilets, sinks, showers? Would we need to have a staff person to sanitize each facility after each use?
  • What happens if someone presents with symptoms during the week of camp? How do we trace everyone that was in contact with that person since the beginning of the week?

Struggling to answer these questions brought us to the place that we felt it would negatively impact the camp experience to such a degree that it would defeat the whole purpose of camp. If we can’t do camp with minimal risk for participants without sacrificing the relational, spiritual dimensions of the camp experience, it’s not worth it to us.