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UK News

Young people's Christian camps could face an uncertain future if cancelled for a second year

by Chantalle Edmunds

There are concerns Christian summer camps will be halted again if the Government enforces a cap of 30 at youth residentials as part of coronavirus restrictions. 

The National Youth Agency has expressed its concerns over the possible measures believed to be under consideration by the Government.

Now a campaign has been launched online called 'Save our Summer camps', which applies to both secular and religious gatherings.

Keith Hagon is executive director of Christian Residential Network, a membership association of 140 venues around the UK, including summer camp providers. 

"The majority of Christian camps would be bigger than 30 and the 30 includes leaders, volunteers, absolutely everybody. So, it would have a limitation on overall capacity, how many children or young people could go, that obviously has an impact also on the financial viability of camps. It also simply means that the sort of the size of the venue and the size of the camp that can be held, all these things, these variables, are suddenly impacted," he told Premier.

He added that cancelling, because of number constraints, could mean dire financial consequences for some camps.

"I think the likelihood is that a lot of camps won't go ahead. And that's not least to do with the financial viability, but also in terms of the size of venues that have already been booked and the way in which those can be run. It just isn't going to be tenable for a lot of those camps to go ahead. I'm aware that some of our members have already cancelled their physical summer programmes, some can do something online. But to be honest, this is the second year running that this is going to happen, it's going to be really seriously bad news,"

With young people's mental health already seriously impacted by the pandemic, Hagon is concerned that many young Christians will lose an important spiritual and social experience: "we know that there are mental health issues, there are well-being issues, they're now being documented. Some camps are a tremendous way of addressing those issues, of enabling them to meet with their peers to get out to enjoy life again. It doesn't have to be totally free of restrictions, it can be done safely, but it does really need to happen for their sake," he added.

"Capping summer camps at a capacity of 30 would effectively cancel them for another year. After a year of being locked up and having missed out on so many opportunities, including a normal school leaver's experience, I am one of many yearning to meet others my own age who have been through the same experiences and have had similar struggles. To deprive our generation of this would be devastating. Cancelling camps would also be a kick in the teeth for those such as myself who are moving on in life and wish to take the opportunity camps provide to learn and take on more responsibility through helping camp leaders," Bertie, a camp-goer, told Premier in a statement. 


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