With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.”
– Scruggs & Thompson
We sing this hymn at the end of every campfire vesper service at camp. It has been a beloved piece of Pyoca tradition for many of our campers. Camp is a sanctuary for many children, youth, and adults. Like many church sanctuaries, camp is a holy space that elevates our hearts and minds to be fixed upon God.
Many of us have had to redefine our church sanctuaries to our homes, transforming them into the other kind of sanctuary: a safe haven. We remind campers often that they are sanctuaries: holy vessels filled with God’s light that is meant to be spread throughout the world.
Our mission at Pyoca is to welcome all in God’s love to explore, grow, rest, and play. This mission is a calling to be a sanctuary for our campers to explore their call, grow in faith, rest in Creation, and play with a purpose.
While campers are here they are learning to become sanctuaries for others. We send them out as witnesses to God’s light at the end of each week.
In recent weeks, we have been faced with the difficult decision of determining how we can best live out our mission to faithfully serve God and our community in a healthy and sustainable way. Unfortunately, given the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we believe the best decision moving forward for our campers, staff, families, state, and local community is to cancel in-person camp programming for Summer 2020.
This decision was not made lightly, as camp is a critical part of our mission to plant and nurture seeds of faith in our children and youth, so that they may learn to make their faith their own and discern God’s call for their lives.
At camp we are now discerning how God is calling us to be a sanctuary in a time of crisis. We’ve always known that camp is not the final stop on our journey of faith, for many it is just the beginning. We take what we learn from camp and share it with the world as witnesses of God’s love.
Perhaps the greatest witness to this love is what we are called to do right now: remain in sanctuary. Social distancing has been difficult for many of us, particularly us extroverted camp people. We have no greater wish than to see our campers’ smiling faces in person, but in order to do so safely and for many years to come, the right thing to do in this moment is take this summer for rest.
In the meantime, we are exploring new meanings of sanctuary at camp: pilgrimage, rest, and service. We hope to be able to safely share this space with our community in the coming months.
We thank you for your support of our ministry, as well your continued thoughts and prayers, as we discern how to best serve our community in new and creative ways throughout the summer and fall.
Know that you are loved, you are missed, and we hope to see you as soon as we can.
May Christ’s peace be with each and every one of you.
Mike Davis, Senior Director
Rev. Molly DeWitt, Program Director
Pyoca Advisory Council