Summer 2020 Update

Dear Black Bear Lake Families,

We trust this letter finds you and your families safe and healthy.

We have spent the past few months, like you, going through the various stages of shock, sadness, anxiety and frustration as we come to terms with the many ways life has been impacted by COVID-19.  We are so grateful for all of you, and how you’ve connected with each other and with us.

With the heaviest of hearts, we have decided to postpone Black Bear Lake for the summer 2020 and begin to dream of the amazing summer 2021 that awaits us all.

While some of you may have anticipated this, we know that it will be hard for you to read and will be disappointing news for your children – our beloved campers – to hear.  Truthfully, this has also been an incredibly difficult conclusion for us to come to, as we so hoped to give you different news and have been working tirelessly to find a way forward over the past few weeks. We singularly focused on analyzing and problem-solving.  After a thorough review and analysis of the recently released New Jersey Youth Summer Camp Standards and discussion with our Leadership Staff, medical and other professionals, we have determined that running camp under these guidelines is not in everyone’s best interest.

This decision is a very emotional one for me.  Simply put…IM4CAMP.  In fact, that is what is stated on my license plate.  I have only missed 2 summers at camp since I was 3 years old!  I met my wife at camp and most of my life-long friends are those I spent the summer with at camp.  Camp has never been a job for me.  It is a passion and a privilege.  However, after an exhaustive and clear-eyed assessment, we arrived at the agonizing decision that there was no clear path to open camp safely for our entire camp community.  Sadly, most beloved Black Bear Lake traditions would not be possible.  Traveling in small groups of campers and counselors exclusively, without any interaction between them, is impossible.  Social distancing is the opposite of what camp should be.  It is the opposite of the camp you love.  How can this be monitored and enforced?  It simply cannot.  We cannot imagine Black Bear Lake without Friday Line cheering and chanting as we award Ian’s Cup, campers holding hands with their counselors, and the whole camp together as we sing the camp alma mater at the conclusion of Color War.  The magic of camp would be overshadowed by social distancing and safety precautions.  We realize that other camps may arrive at a decision different from the one we are making and we respect those decisions. However, we made this decision the way that we make all of our decisions – based, not on what others do, but on our risk assessment and what works for Black Bear Lake.

We know your children- and children everywhere- have been through a very difficult few months and the hope for summer camp was the “light at the end of the tunnel.”  We are devastated for your children that we cannot bring it to them right now.

We understand how surreal and emotional this situation is for everyone.  We feel it too and are here to support you every step of the way.  Right now, we need to take the time to acknowledge our sadness and grieve together for a summer at camp that never happened – a summer we needed more than ever before.  We understand that children need camp now more than ever and wish that we could have seen a clear way to open for Summer 2020. We know that our campers and staff will feel sad, angry, confused and devastated because we feel the same way.  But we also know there will be many more wonderful summers at Black Bear Lake.  We will all be back in 2021 stronger than ever because we are truly a family!

If progress against the virus continues and with appropriate approval and guidelines from the NJ Department of Health, we will be ready to host FAMILY CAMPS, DIVISION WIDE REUNIONS, AND EVEN WEEK-LONG PROGRAMS.  This means that campers (and parents) will be able to stay connected and socialize throughout the summer.  We will provide more detail as to these events at a later date.

We know this is a lot to take in and that you may have further questions for us.  I am available to speak with you or your children at any time.  We will reach out in the near future with information about the ways we will continue to keep our community connected.  The countdown to Black Bear Lake 2021 begins now.

With sadness, gratitude and tons of love, I forever remain,

Yours in camping,