By Hannah Shultz
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Workcamp Ministry has developed alternative workcamp options for summer 2021 workcamps. The top priority is the health and safety of workcamp participants and the communities they serve. The ministry hopes to offer workcamp options that reflect this priority while also providing a meaningful workcamp experience.
At this stage, staff are gathering information from individuals and congregations to gauge their interest in and comfort with various options. The options presented at this time are not final and are subject to change. In making decisions, the workcamp team will be monitoring COVID-19 cases around the country and following guidelines and recommendations from the CDC and local and regional health departments.
The Workcamp Ministry welcomes feedback from individuals and congregations who are interested in participating in 2021 workcamps. Those who have not completed the informational survey yet are encouraged to do so at www.cognitoforms.com/ChurchOfTheBrethren1/_2021WorkcampInterestSurvey .
The four options being considered for 2021 workcamps are:
Tier 1: Participants will serve in their local communities during the day, either individually or with other members of their congregation. In the evening, participants will gather virtually for devotions and activities. Participants will be expected to bring their own lunch while serving. The Workcamp Ministry will work with individuals and congregations to coordinate service opportunities within their local context. The workcamp team also will provide leadership during the virtual evening meetings.
Tier 2: Participants will serve in their local area with other members of their congregation during the day. In the evening, they will gather together physically, in a socially distanced manner, for dinner, devotions, and activities. Participants will return home to sleep each night and be expected to bring their own lunch while serving. The Workcamp Ministry will work with the congregation to plan local service and will provide leadership and participate in-person during the week.
Tier 3: Participants will serve locally with other congregations in their region during the day. In the evening, they will gather together physically, in a socially distanced manner, for dinner, devotions, and activities. Participants will return home to sleep each night and be expected to bring their own lunch while serving. The Workcamp Ministry will work with each congregation interested in participating to plan local service and will provide leadership and participate in-person during the week.
Tier 4: Participants will take part in a “normal” workcamp. Workcamp participants from around the country will travel to a workcamp location, stay together in local housing accommodations (church or camp), and serve together for the week. The workcamp team will plan and lead all service work, meals, devotions, and recreational activities. This tier is presented as an option pending the distribution of a safe vaccine in Spring 2021.
Tier 1-3 workcamps will start on a Sunday evening and run through Friday evening. Tier 4 workcamps will begin Sunday evening and run through Saturday morning.
All of the 2021 workcamps will be intergenerational and open to individuals who have completed 6th grade and older. As usual, adult advisors are required to attend with groups of youth and are expected to fully participate in all aspects of the workcamp. Advisors will register at the same time as their youth and pay the same registration fee. The Workcamp Ministry asks that congregations send at least one adult advisor for every two to four youth participants, keeping gender in mind (i.e. if youth are all male, there should be at least one male advisor). All adults who attend a workcamp will be required to go through a background check administered by the denominational office.
— Hannah Shultz is coordinator of short-term service for Brethren Volunteer Service and the Church of the Brethren.
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