By Message Staff
WOODWORTH, La. (LBM)–Louisiana Baptist leaders announced May 14 that all state convention-sponsored camps at Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center will not take place this summer because of novel coronavirus pandemic-related safety concerns.
“In light of Governor Edwards’ updated guidelines and after consultations with multiple medical professionals we determined we could not safely conduct the camps given the current state of the COVID outbreak,” Dale Lingenfelter, director of the business and information services team for Louisiana Baptists, told the Baptist Message.
Lingenfelter noted Louisiana Baptists Executive Director Steve Horn and the rest of the executive leadership team have monitored the situation since mid-March.
“There were many considerations that factored into this difficult decision,” Lingenfelter continued. “Groups come to Tall Timbers from across Louisiana and surrounding states and when you take into account space for social distancing, the wearing of masks, sleeping in close quarters and then returning to their cities and churches after days of such exposure, it seemed very problematic.”
Groups who registered for a 2020 camp automatically will receive a refund.
Tall Timbers, a Louisiana Baptist-owned camp founded in 1963, has not hosted any groups since Edwards issued a stay at home order March 22 that limited gatherings to no more than 10 people. While all summer camps have been cancelled, the Champions Camp for individuals with special needs has been moved to Sept. 18-20.
Camp Director Josh Bumgardner said while his staff is sad camps will not take place, God is bigger than the current pandemic. He encouraged churches to use their leaders to offer summer enrichment opportunities.
“Our staff is heartbroken, as you can imagine, because we look forward to summer camps and serving our churches each year,” he said. “We see over and over again how God meets people in a personal way on these grounds. Our staff goal for years now has been to work so as to remove distractions. That way, the Word of God can be heard even more clearly as you worship here together.
“But even with no summer camps in 2020, we trust in the Lord completely,” he continued. “Each of us will grieve many things in our own time, but as the Apostle Paul wrote, ‘we do not grieve like those who have no hope.’ We believe and know that God will continue to work in the lives of your students through your church.
“We will be continuing to work on our facility to make it better for you and we hope to see you again in 2021.”