Grieving the Loss of Summer Camp

By Andrea Richardson


The day is here, the day we learned that overnight camps won’t be able to operate this summer. I can hardly believe it. (I understand and agree with the government’s decision, but that doesn’t make it sting any less.)


I love camp so much; it has been an important part of my life for 42 years. I was a first-time camper at a Circle Square Ranch in 1978, and there have only been two summers since then that I have not been at camp. I’ve been a camper, a volunteer, and I was on the leadership team when I was in university. Steve and I moved to Grand River in 1993 and we’ve raised all our kids here. As my kids have grown, I’ve been in a full-time role for the last few years.


When I say I love camp, I mean it.

I love camp because I’ve experienced how it can change a kids life. Because being part of children and teens hearing about Jesus and deciding to follow him is such a holy thing that I’ve never wanted to step away from it. Because it seems my skills and passions are perfectly made to serve at camp, and it feels good to use them for kingdom work. Because how else would I get to meet and walk with so many young people?
I love camp because I get to pray for so many kids and staff while they’re here. And one of my favourite ways to pray is to walk up and down our driveway. I pray for the families that will travel down the pot-hole filled lane. I pray that the Holy Spirit will start whispering his hope to them as soon as they come onto the property. And he does. 
I’ve sat on the lodge deck well into the wee hours of the morning, praying that the volunteers who are giving their sweat, blood and tears to show the campers that they are loved, would experience themselves God’s love in a new and meaningful way. And they do.
I pray that campers would come to understand how much they are loved by their Creator and that following Jesus will become the most important part of their life. And they do. 

But COVID-19 means there won’t be over-night camp this summer.

And I’m so sad about it. 
I’m also worried about what this will mean for this particular camp that I love so much. Will the camp still be here when this is done? We’ve lost over 80% of our income this year, and it will be tough to bounce back. We’re going to need people who believe in camp to come along side us in new and ridiculously generous ways if we’re going to weather this storm.
Total honesty moment? Over the years, we’ve relied on donations for all our building projects (and people have been so generous. We couldn’t have built all these beautiful buildings without them) but we’ve been able to pay all our operating costs out of our income….until now. For the first time ever, we’ll have to rely on donations to keep our gates open. And I’m kind of scared. Maybe that makes me a person with small faith, but there it is. I’m hoping that in five years I can look back at this blog and marvel at how God abundantly met our needs.

Will you pray with me?

Will you pray for the campers who won’t be at camp this summer? Pray that we find creative ways to stay connected with them and that we’ll have a chance to share the Good News with them?
Will you pray for the amazing teenagers who signed up to volunteer this summer? Pray that the Holy Spirit will minister to them over the summer and that they’d experience the same kind of spiritual growth even though they aren’t at camp?
Will you pray that people would give generously to help us meet our operating costs, and that we’ll be able to bounce back from this?
Will you pray that we’ll lead well during this time and support our staff through this season. (I wanted to say unprecedented times, but I resisted).
Lastly, will you pray that we’ll get some answers about day camp soon? We’re not sure if we’ll be able to operate day camp, and if are able, how it will look. We’ll need wisdom in abundance if we do decide to run a day camp.

God’s work is not limited to the Circle Square Ranches or Pioneer Camps. He can still work in the lives of young people. I just hope and pray it will continue to be on this little piece of land.


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Steve & Andrea Richardson

Andrea Richardson and her husband Steve are the Executive Directors of InterVarsity Circle Square Ranch Grand River in Ontario.

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