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Crossings devises two new intiatives to help counteract camp cancellations


Crossings Camps were gearing up for a record-setting year — only to be sidetracked by the coronavirus. Now the major question facing Crossings personnel is when — or if — any camps can be held this summer.

Crossings announced in mid-April that it was canceling all camps scheduled for June. "Our primary concern is the safety and health of campers," said Rusty Ellison, vice president of development for Sunrise Children's Services.

"We were not optimistic that we could comply with the (state and federal) guidelines," Ellison said in explaining why June camps were called off. The status of July camps was scheduled to be announced by May 26, which Ellison said was necessary to help churches in their planning process.

Whenever camps can resume, Ellison noted Crossings personnel have worked hard to determine how those camps would function while complying with government guidelines and still offer a meaningful camp.

"This (coronavirus) could not have come at a worse time for Crossings," Ellison said, noting that June and July camps account for 80 percent of the annual income for Crossings. "June and July had 18,371 reservations for Cedarmore and Jonathan Creek — by far the biggest registration numbers we have had," Ellison observed.

"Even as painful as it is, we are really blessed and we will endure this. (Crossings) President Lance Howerton has us on real solid ground." Just as churches have had to quickly innovate in order to minister to their communities, so has Crossings. That has resulted in two fall initiatives that Ellison said are "exciting new ministries" developed as a result of the cancellations prompted by the COVID-19 situation.

"We're developing a plan for fall student weekends," Ellison said, noting those weekends would be on Crossings properties.

It is also developing a plan for kids camp weekends, which would be held off-site at church locations. "We would go to the host churches and have sessions on Friday and Saturday nights and conclude on Sunday."

Crossings has been vigilant to keep its church partners updated. "In March we sent emails to all our groups and student leaders, posted information on our website and made phone calls to 270 of our partner churches. We're trying to stay as connected as possible to our churches. A rule that guides us in life, and particularly in crisis, is to communicate — you cannot overcommunicate."

Churches that have seen their dates canceled have three options related to payments for camps that are canceled. Crossings will offer a full refund, or churches can take the opportunity to roll some or all of their deposit to next year's camps. A third option is to donate some of their deposit to Crossings.

"Crossings appreciates everyone understanding the situation we are in and their patience as we work through how to effectively work through the pandemic. We're thankful for the many church partners we have and want them all to know we are here to serve local churches," Ellison said.

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