Camp Maranatha cancels day and overnight camps amidst COVID-19

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SCOTTSBORO, Ala.- School is technically out for summer.

While many kids would typically be heading off to summer camp, that is not the case this year due to COVID-19.

Right about now, Camp Maranatha staff would be preparing for a large group of kids at their summer camp. But this year, the novel coronavirus has thrown a monkey wrench into all of their plans.

Eight weeks of camp was supposed to begin on June 1.

“We were expecting to have our biggest, fullest summer ever, and essentially we shut down middle of March. We made the tough call based on where things were headed,” said Camp Maranatha board chairman Paul Emerson.

Emerson told WHNT News 19 that not only was he a camper and staff member at Camp Maranatha once, this is also where he met his wife.

“We know people’s lives are changed when they get out of normal routines. They break out from their normal social settings, from schools. People tend to wear masks around folks they know. They come out here, they’re who they’re meant to be. They’re comfortable, they build strength life skills that kids don’t necessarily get sitting behind screens every day,” explained Emerson.

Camp Maranatha day and overnight camps are all canceled.

Camp leaders are working on new online content for area youth.

“We’re launching starting Tuesday next week to try to keep connections with kids. They’re going to have songs and skits and devotionals once a week that get released that they can kind of engage and see what camp would be like,” said Emerson.

The board was forced to lay off maintenance staff. With help from the Paycheck Protection Program, they were able to bring some back. But the typical 16 to 20 summer staffers is being cut down to about four.

Camp Maranatha is still offering retreats for smaller groups like churches or family reunions to ensure the social distancing guidelines are followed.

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