January 10, 2022
I'm writing as we experience a surge in Covid with omicron. This variant seems to be much more contagious than the previous, but less severe in symptoms. So we're getting a lot of cases, but those affected aren't as sick as those with the earlier variants and before the vaccine. So, the news could be worse.
With this reality we want to be as proactive as we can approaching camps and retreats, especially as summer approaches. First of all, we're recommending that we approach this summer with the intent of having 'in person' camps. It's possible that this might be taken from us by other pandemic related issues. But it's also possible that this surge will lead us closer to a herd immunity that will make camps (with precautions and masks) possible. So we recommend you be prepared for the best case, that camps will happen in person!
In the meantime, let's commit to doing our research as far as safety precautions with testing, vaccination understandings, and masks. This will mean extra work on our part. But its important to work that leads to the life-changing experience of camp. We have a wealth of resources to pull from. We can rarely ensure full safety, but our best approach is to follow the recommendations of the authorities around us. With good processes we should be able to set good recommendations for summer camp testing, masks, etc... by early May.
Our highest authority is the CDC and you can find their recommendations at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/guidance.html. Another authority is the American Camping Association and their recommendations, https://www.acacamps.org/resource-library/coronavirus-information-camps. We should also stay in contact with our sites. They will have their procedures as safety will be a high concern for them as well. In the case of Lodestar and Monte Toyon, UCCR has been working with the different groups to create a safety approach that is comfortable for the visiting group. Again, a good reason to stay in contact with your site. Finally, check with the legal restrictions of the city or county of the site. Most probably, the site director will be fully aware of these. Above all else, do your best to keep campers as safe as we can in this unique time.
We know that many families will be hesitant to send their children and youth away to camp. But we are also hearing that our society is experiencing a 'social withdrawal' and are very eager to get back to engaging with others in the safest ways possible. Let's be prepared for these folks!
Patricia Parfett, Chair, BCRM
Rev. Darren Cowdrey, Interim Director, Camping and Retreat Ministries
The California-Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church is committed to ensuring that we provide safe places of worship and fellowship to everyone we serve.
Safe Gatherings is an online abuse prevention program that screens and educates staff and volunteers to help prevent abuse of children, youth, and vulnerable adults in group settings. When employees and volunteers are trained to identify potential abusers, recognize the signs of abuse, and know how to handle reporting, they are better equipped to prevent abuse.
The California-Nevada Conference and our congregations utilize Safe Gatherings to enable our churches, camps, and affiliated groups to meet their screening and training responsibilities for those who work with children, youth, and vulnerable adults.
Staff and volunteers who serve in ministry to these groups complete the approval process every 3 years to maintain their approval status. Individuals who complete an application, background check, and the online training may be approved and authorized to work with those groups in any church-related setting.
Screening includes obtaining background checks and professional references. The training is comprehensive and customized for our organization. Applicants may complete the online training modules at their own pace. Prevention and boundary awareness training course (approx. 90-120 minutes in length)
Any questions regarding Background checks and the Online abuse prevention training, please contact the Safe Gatherings team at firstname.lastname@example.org or (888) 241-8258 for additional information or with questions about the program.
Application: Click here to access the Safe Gatherings system and complete the online application. Individuals can login to their account at any time to check the status of their application.
Payment: The application process fee is $41 per applicant. The price includes the reference checks, background checks, and training required to be Safe Gatherings-approved. Applicants are responsible for payment by credit card at the time of application unless your church has decided to pay the application fee for approvals for those serving your congregation. If your church is covering this cost, it will be indicated when you complete your online application.
All churches in the conference are set up in Safe Gatherings. Applicants must correctly choose the denomination, state and city where your church is located, and the church will display in a drop-down menu as you begin the application process.
References: The approval process requires one professional and one clergy reference to assist in qualifying all applicants. Reference requests are submitted and received electronically. It may be helpful to notify your chosen references so that they can anticipate receiving the request.
Training: Training may be completed online at your convenience once your application has been completely filled out and payment has been made. If you prefer not to complete the training in one sitting, you may log out and complete it later. Safe Gatherings allows you to either restart the training where you left off, or begin again from the beginning. Once you have successfully passed the quiz, you will continue to have access to the training course for one year from your date of application so that you may use the training as a reference. Prevention and boundary awareness training course takes (approx. 90-120 minutes in length)
Approval: Upon satisfactory completion of all components of the Safe Gatherings process, applicants and their church administrator will be notified by email. Approval is valid for 3 years.