2020 Summer Camp Update

Delanco Camp Community,

I hope that this letter finds you and your families well in the midst of these crazy days we have been living in during the spring of 2020. As you are certainly aware, the effects of Covid-19 have been felt across every aspect of our society. Even now, as plans are put in place for “reopening” and whatever “our new normal” looks like, there are still so many unknowns.

The Board of Directors met last night via Zoom. Our last meeting in March was just at the beginning of this season in our country’s life. At that time, we had hoped for a minor disturbance to the camp’s ministry, with the possible cancellation of Spring Retreat. That seems like ages ago! Our May meeting focused upon where we are now, what it would take for us to have camp this summer, and the necessary steps to get there.

Everyone present loves Delanco. Everyone present desperately wants to have camp. Everyone present felt the inescapable frustration between what we want to be true and the reality of the current situation. We spoke for over an hour, and every conversation kept coming back to one central point: We do not know how we can plan and execute Delanco 2020 in light of where we are currently. Specifically, a few key areas surfaced:

–Delanco is primarily volunteer driven in terms of our staff. Will our staff feel comfortable  serving this year?  Do they have the necessary vacation time to serve? What added stress upon our program directors, health directors, and counselors will come in 2020?

–Can we meet the expectations of parents, and parents of first-time campers in particular? While there are many who eagerly await “reopening,” we also know that many have a  greater reluctance and concerns when sending their children away for a week.

–What rules, recommendations, and procedures will we have to incorporate in terms of masks,  sanitation stations, visitor restrictions, testing, and social distancing? Can we meet these challenges while preserving the “Delanco experience” for our campers?

The reality is that we cannot proceed with confidence with our current summer program.  Our board voted unanimously (with deep regret) to suspend the 2020 program. We will be meeting again in June to consider what, if any, alternative programming may be possible. If things rapidly improve, it is likely we plan and launch summer ministry in some form. It is also possible that we may simply open the camp for smaller groups (families, churches, etc.) as deemed appropriate by government and health authorities.

I will miss Delanco Camp this summer. My three kids will miss Delanco this summer. The youth group at the church I serve will miss out on opportunities to grow in Christ because there is no Delanco this summer. This is not what any of us wanted or hoped, and yet it is the place in which we find ourselves. I am confident that God will continue to use this crisis to advance His church.  I am further confident that Delanco’s future is bright as we seek to come alongside families and churches in the work of the Kingdom.

Thanks for your ongoing support of Delanco Camp. Please continue to pray for our board and leadership as we attempt to navigate this current season. As you are able, I would invite you to consider supporting the ministry of the camp. There are ongoing expenses associated with the camp’s operation that are present whether we have summer camp or not. Thanks again for being part of the Delanco family.  

May God continue to be glorified in all things!

Mike Bill
President, Delanco Camp

50 Years at Lake Agape: Why I Love Delanco Camp

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Editor’s Note: Today is day 42 of our 50 Years at Lake Agape countdown. Click here to read the other articles.

One of the statements I hear regularly about Delanco goes something like this:

After all of these years, it still looks the same…

The exact quote differs from person to person, but that’s the gist. For some, it’s a negative comment about aging facilities, not building anything new, etc. For most though, it’s positive and affirming. While we realize how awesome it would be to have a pool, full-size basketball court, air-conditioned dorms, and a host of other amenities, the fact remains that WE LOVE CAMP!  When we drive onto the grounds, walk into the Tabernacle, cross the bridge on the way to the Dining Hall, or simply get the first bit of sand in our shoes, WE FEEL AS IF WE WERE HOME!

Leonard Sweet recently wrote a book entitled: 11 Indispensible Relationships You Can’t be Without. It is a great book and most of the relationships were directly tied to a Biblical character (for instance, you need a Peter/Paul–mentor; you need a Jonathan—true friend; etc). However, the eleventh one is puzzling: you need a Jerusalem…a place. A place? Why are places important in our spiritual lives and our development as believers? Is this just a nostalgic grasp at the past? After all, we’ve learned through the years that the church is the people of God…not a building.

I think Sweet is on to something: our personal and spiritual journeys are marked by moments, by people, and by discoveries…but also by places. The Israelites erected monuments of rock to commemorate God’s mighty works “lest they forget what the Lord had done for them.” Places are important not because of what they are in and of themselves, but rather what they represent and Who they point us to…that God met us and did a work inside of our lives There! Delanco Camp is one of my “Jerusalem’s.” At camp, I met Christ…at camp, I surrendered my life completely to Him…God placed a calling to ministry upon my life at camp…and, perhaps most of all, Delanco is the place where I feel like I’m “home.”

And so Leonard Sweet goes on to ask: “What places represent holiness in your life? What are the coordinates of your ‘holy ground’? The intonations of your home space? Show me on the map your Beulah Land.”

Many who write this week will talk about specific places at camp that are their favorites…I could go on and list a few of mine. But for me, it’s always been camp itself…just being there on the grounds, that was awakened, encouraged, challenged, and clarified my life…and I am eternally grateful!

Join us at camp for the Lake Agape 50th Anniversary Dinner on Saturday, June 6, at 5 p.m. Click here for more info.

Delanco Camp partnering with Hurricane Sandy Relief Workers

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Winter is always a time of preparation at camp. Program directors begin to discuss themes and assemble their staffs for summer camp, projects and building repairs are planned, and much work takes place “behind the scenes.” However, this year looks a bit different. In addition to our summer camps, we are privileged and excited to partner with three organizations doing Hurricane Sandy Relief:

  • AmeriCorps and National Community Conservation Corps volunteers in New Jersey serving along the coast will be staying at the camp on an ongoing basis when camp is not in session. If you are interested in providing a hot meal for these teams, engaging in our hospitality ministry, or would be willing to stop in once during the week as a resource person, contact Melissa Kappeler at KappelerFamily@gmail.com.
  • Another opportunity comes at the beginning of the summer. The Board of Directors has entered into a contract agreement with Group Workcamps, enabling Group to utilize our facilities as a “home base” for as many as 200 teen volunteers per week for four weeks. This is very exciting! These groups will be serving in Ocean City, Long Beach Island, and all along the Jersey Shore. If you are interested in learning more about Group Workcamps, go to groupmissiontrips.com/workcamps.

Here are some key details the Delanco Camp Community needs to know:

  1. These are not just “rentals” but strategic ministries in the life of our camp. These opportunities fit squarely into our mission as a camp and we are blessed to partner with volunteers and teams engaging in this vital work.
  2. The contract with Group has necessitated a shift in when Camp Meeting will take place in 2013. We believe this opportunity to be timely and felt that moving Camp Meeting to Labor Day Weekend could possibly be in the best interest for all involved. Camp Meeting will have a concentrated schedule with new components (coming soon!) and this shift allows us to host Group for two additional weeks this summer.
  3. There are opportunities for churches, Sunday School classes, families, and individuals to volunteer in these partnerships. Contact Melissa (email above) or Mike Bill (mike.bill@delanco.org) if you are interested in serving in this manner.
  4. Both of these partnerships will contribute to our financial recovery as a ministry. In both cases, the camp is being compensated for housing, utilities, any necessary staffing, etc. Though our primary goal is not to “make money” with these partnerships, our leadership is committed to the financial health and stability of the camp going forward.

Praise God for the work being done in and through Delanco Camp to make a difference in our world through Jesus Christ…I’m looking forward to a wonderful year in 2013 and the many things God is going to do!

Mike Bill is the president of the board of directors of the Delanco Camp Meeting Association and is a pastor at Sharptown Church.