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NIC Summer Camp Changes

Posted: May 29 2020 at 01:43 PM
Author: Jeff Casey, NIC Director of Outdoor and Retreat Ministries

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And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28

Youth Summer Camps

In the interest of camper and staff safety, NIC’s Outdoor and Retreat Ministries (ORM) has combined all of our youth summer camps into one online J.O.Y. (Jesus, Others, You) Camp session June 21 - 26. The cost is $20 per participant. Register online at If you register before June 6, we will order a T-shirt for your camper(s).

Season of COVID

This year's summer camp theme is "Seasons," and sure enough, we are experiencing a brand new season! This new season of COVID-19 is enabling us to accomplish two longer-term goals: 

  • Promote family retreats and family activities in self-contained, family units;
  • Plan and develop off-grid solutions to make our facilities more eco-friendly and reduce recurring utility costs (more info to follow).

Wesley Woods

While Wisconsin's reopening Phase II allows groups of up to 50 to gather, your Wesley Woods Retreat Center will reopen in alignment with the Illinois phases because the vast majority of our guests are from NIC churches and Illinois' not-for-profit organizations.

Self-Contained Family Unit Retreats

Through July, Wesley Woods will rent retreat space to "Self-Contained Family Unit" groups in its five house-lodges that have their own kitchens (Epworth, Miller 1, Miller 2, Oak and Susanna).

We will prioritize "Family Work Retreats” in  the same buildings from June 19-28 because the Wisconsin Safer-At-Home orders prohibited our normal whole Church Spring Cleaning retreats in May. Also, we will waive the building minimum fees so that more families can experience God's beautiful creation on Geneva Lake.

We are still finalizing the DIY family crafts and activities for these retreats so watch your email, the NIC eNews, and your mailbox during the third week of June for more descriptive promotional information.

Camper Safety & Lodging Availability

Along with growing your spiritual relationship with God, your safety is our #1 priority. We are working with Conference Risk Manager Dwayne Jackson to ensure that we meet all of the safety guidelines of the CDC, Wisconsin and Illinois State-level health departments, and each camp's governing County Health Department. Our June 19 Wesley Woods target date was established because it will take a few weeks to confirm these guidelines and purchase supplies in accordance with new requirements. 

One important safety requirement is to let each space sit empty for 24 hours after a group's occupancy prior to cleaning it for the next group. As a result, group rentals through July will run from Friday night through Sunday morning, and Tuesday night through Thursday morning.

Reynoldswood and Summer Day Camp

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Currently, Illinois is not allowing traditional, residential camps to open under guidelines. However, Reynoldswood and the Dixon YMCA have been granted permission to run Summer Day Camp in self-contained groups of 10. We will host 70 children in Day Camp by utilizing Chapel Up and Chapel Down to help with the social distancing requirements.

Since all of Wesley Wood's large, whole-camp groups cancelled their reservations, two of Reynoldswood's whole-camp groups are holding on until the last possible minute because they really want to "do camp" this summer. This could happen in the last two weeks of July and the first week of August.

Currently, we are finalizing plans to host these larger (but less than 50 people) camps with social distancing to ensure everyone's safety. Please join us in praying for healthful trends and government permission to reopen in Phase IV in July.

Beyond July, we are hopeful that both camps will return to normal, weekend hosting schedules in September and October, but we will always defer to guest safety and comply with relevant regulatory agencies' orders.

Staff Furlough Rumors

Yes, the rumors are true: we have furloughed all year-round ORM staff at both sites. All affected staff have been involved in the discussions and we believe this effort will best support our staff and protect the camp properties.

Half (50%) of the camps' annual expenses are year-round payroll, but 85% of the camps' income is earned May-July. With the government closure of camps for those months, there is just not enough money to pay our employees.

While the NIC does participate in Unemployment Insurance programs (UI), the Federal Pandemic Assistance programs will enable our staff to draw UI benefits—some of which expire in July. Combined with the State of Illinois' decision closing residential camps during Phase III, it especially makes sense to furlough staff sooner rather than later. Please know that the "furlough" process protects the employees' access to health benefits and retirement plans and also makes it easier to return them to payroll if the state does allow us to open sooner than currently anticipated.

All of our year-round staff are passionate about camp and have expressed their intent to return in 2021 when we anticipate being able to run traditional residential camps. In addition, they all have committed to volunteering as needed to ensure proper care of the facilities through this season of COVID-19 and the winter season. Some will live on site to deter vandalism, monitor for potential weather and/or plumbing issues, and host the Day Camp and Self-Contained Family Unit Retreats.

Please keep all of our staff and the camps in your prayers, as these are new experiences for all of us—but please do not feel sorry for us either. As Jeff Hoxie, who serves as Food Services Director for both camps, noted: "Wow, I haven't had a summer off in 20 years! This is kind of exciting, too."

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