Summer 2021 is just around the corner! We’re excited to be able to welcome campers back to our camping ministries this summer. All our preparations to reopen have been guided by the safety of our campers and staff and the effort to honor your trust. Your family is a part of our camp family.

Our camp family is big and broad and diverse – and we like it that way! We realize, however, that diversity in our family means a variety of understandings of what “safety” means. In addition, we’ve been monitoring a variety of constantly changing guidelines based on interpretations of “safety” from government, health agencies, and camp industry sources. While we’ve hoped since last spring that both guidelines and public opinion would coalesce, more or less, around a set of best practices that most understand to be “safe”, that has not happened.

So we find ourselves in the somewhat uncomfortable position of deciding the meaning of “safety” for our programs, for our camp family. As we have weighed the science and recommendations for our operations, as well as the opinions expressed by many of you, we’ve developed the following policies and protocols to be followed this summer:

Some of you will find these guidelines too lenient to make you feel safe. Others will be concerned that we are engaging in unnecessary mitigation. As the ones who sit in the position of displeasing so many, please know that these policies and protocols manifest what we believe to be “safe” for the camp family for this summer. We feel confident that things will be different for Summer 2022, and realize that some of you may not be comfortable returning to camp until then. For the rest of us, we thank you for your trust, your understanding, and your willingness to work as a family to ensure that our campers might experience the joy and faith-forming capacity of camp this summer!

With deep appreciation,

C. Russell Davis
Executive Director
We can't wait to see you and your camper at Glisson in just a few weeks! Until then, this is the first of four emails designed to share the key info needed to "Blaze the Trail" for a safe, smooth, and successful camp experience. Each email covers pre-arrival topics categorized chronologically: “Between Now & Camp”, “Check-In Day”, “During Camp”, and “Checkout Day”. As you would imagine, there’s more pre-arrival info than ever this year as we’ve adapted to be able to offer camp safely this summer. Since some of those changes are more significant and/or more pressing to know sooner than others, we’ve listed a few key updates for 2021 below for ease of reference.
  • COVID-19 MITIGATION: Please take time to review our Covid-19 Mitigation Plan (updated 5/7/2021). While our core mitigation strategies (e.g. cohorting, strategic mask use, etc) have remained consistent, we’ve updated practices and protocols as knowledge has increased and conditions have changed over time. Even if you’ve reviewed the info previously, please take time to review the updated version for any changes so that your family can plan accordingly.

  • REQUIRED PRE-SCREENING: To help reduce the likelihood of Covid-19 entering camp, all campers will be required to pre-screen for Covid-19 symptoms for 14 days prior to their check-in day using our Check-In Form. We’ll cover this in more depth in next week’s “Check-In Day” email.

  • REDUCE YOUR EXPOSURE: To the extent possible, we’re asking all camper families to reduce their risk of exposure for the 14 days leading up to arrival at Glisson. To help create as safe of a camp environment as possible for all campers and staff this summer, please make every practical effort to reduce exposure by way of physical distancing, wearing face coverings when not at home, avoiding unnecessary travel, and refraining from indoor social gatherings with people outside of your household.

  • ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE: While future emails in this series will cover “Check-In Day” and “Checkout Day” in-depth, we understand many families need to know check-in times and checkout times as soon as possible in order to make plans. We’ve now finalized those times and posted them on our updated Arrival & Departure Page.
If you haven't made your final payment for camp, please do so as soon as possible. Camp store deposits can also be made at any time prior to the week before your camper is scheduled to arrive at camp (log in to your account --> Find the registration listing for your camper → click Store Card). Remember that all living groups will have time to visit the camp store together. Store items include souvenir t-shirts, hats, stuffed animals, water bottles, snacks, and similar items. Nut-free snacks sold in the store may include: Goldfish, applesauce pouches, Nutri-Grain bars, Cheez-Its, fruit snacks, Lay's Brand Chips, Pringles, Rice Krispy Treats, Oreos, and Chips Ahoy cookies. Though not required, a store card amount of $25-30 is typical. Log In To Your Account today to take care of store deposits and/or payment.

The ability to request a cabin mate sometimes makes the difference between having the courage to come to camp and staying home. Campers who come without a cabin mate request tell us they get to know other campers faster and they make new friends with whom they stay in touch year after year. But for those who want a cabin mate, that's great too! Please make sure any requests follow these criteria :
  • Only 1 cabin mate request is allowed  
  • Requests through our registration system must be sent by one camper and accepted by the other camper
  • Campers must be registered for the same camp program and session
  • Campers must be in the same grade or no more than one grade apart
Cabin mate requests can be checked by Logging Into Your Account to ensure your request has been accepted. Living groups are made up of up to 12 campers from the same cabin. We do not take requests for living group assignments and cannot guarantee living group assignments. 

Homesickness and Child-sickness are two very different challenges camper families face from time to time. We're all familiar with homesickness, though it is a challenge that we see less often at camp these days. Help campers avoid it by focusing on the activities your camper is most excited about, sending a favorite stuffed animal, and expressing your confidence in your camper's ability to make it through the week. DO NOT tell your child to "just try it" and promise to come and get your camper if he/she doesn't like it. That is a virtual guarantee of homesickness. Remember your camper will feel all the confidence about camp that you "cue" him or her to have.

Child-sickness is felt by parents at the prospect of being away from their camper for a week. You may be a parent who feels a great deal of fear for your camper's safety and your anxiety may manifest itself in ways that make the camp week difficult for both you and your child to enjoy. Remind yourself of the wonderful gifts of independence and self-sufficiency the camp experience is growing in your child. Refrain from telling your camper he/she can call home or, worse, sneaking him/her a cell phone against the rules. It undercuts your camper's perception of your confidence in her/his ability to succeed at camp and our ability to care for your child. Consider planning ahead to send (one-way) mail and/or emails to your camper during the week, which many parents find to be a practical way to feel connected while their child is away (and campers love getting mail!). Next week's email will detail options for mailing and emailing your camper.

Our Year-Round Staff and Summer Team are busy preparing for an incredible summer with your campers! Glisson counselors began applying this fall and went through an interview process with our directors as well as multiple background checks and references, ensuring they are the best-of-the-best before they ever meet your children. Our Outpost team has already had a general training and a weekend of Wilderness First Aid training. Our Crew members are busy going through American Red Cross lifeguard training courses. Before your campers arrive, all of our summer team will have gone through extensive training over the course of a couple of weeks. They are so excited to be a part of this ministry and to care for your children!

Stephen, Stephanie, and Russell are dedicated to designing camp ministry experiences for your camper that are safe, fun, and faith-forming. Together they represent decades of experience leading high quality camp ministry programs. As Co-Directors of Summer Ministries, Stephanie and Stephen work year-round to make each summer the best yet as they plan improvements, coordinate logistics, and hire and train over 120 summer staff. As Director of NGCRM, Russell helps to guide and support all aspects of the family of ministries to which Glisson belongs including Grow, ELI, and Shoreline.

You made it to the end! Thanks so much for reading. We hope you've found this first email to be helpful. Upcoming emails will focus on 1) "Check-in Day", 2) "During Camp", and 3) "Checkout Day". If you have any Questions, call the office (706-864-6181) or Email Us. We can't wait to see what God has in store for the coming summer of faith-forming fun. Thanks for being a part of this ministry. We look forward to seeing you and your camper at Glisson soon!
Grace and Peace,
The North Georgia Camp & Retreat Ministries Team

We know how to have fun – our passion is forming faith in the process.