CYO summer camps canceled; camp-at-home website announced

  • Written by Brenda Sexton
  • Published in Local
Coronavirus concerns will keep campers like these canoers at home this summer after CYO canceled its 2020 summer season. Photo: Courtesy CYO Camps Coronavirus concerns will keep campers like these canoers at home this summer after CYO canceled its 2020 summer season. Photo: Courtesy CYO Camps

SEATTLE – With a heavy heart, Shaune Randles has announced the cancellation of 2020 CYO summer camps because of COVID-19.

“As a camp director, and more so as a father of children that are in our programs, I have a responsibility to keep our campers safe,” Randles, director of CYO camps for the Archdiocese of Seattle, said in a May 18 video.

After consulting with archdiocesan leaders, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Camping Association and CYO health care professionals, “we just don’t see how we can provide the safest environment for our campers this summer,” Randles said in the video. “It is extremely disappointing.”

In an interview, Randles said he believes it’s the first time in the 70-year history of CYO camps that the summer sessions have been canceled. Over the decades, more than 100,000 youth have enjoyed the camps, where they can have fun while living, learning and growing in the Catholic faith.

CYO camps provide youth the opportunity to live and practice their Catholic faith while enjoying traditional summer camp activities like swimming and hiking. Photo: Courtesy CYO Camps

Although camp and its activities like swimming, hiking and sharing around the campfire won’t be happening this year, “we are still hoping to share summer with campers — it just has to look different,” Randles said.

Through its online initiative, Bringing Camp Home, CYO is offering resources to help kids and their families enjoy some camp-like activities during the summer — plant identification, singalongs, crafts, scavenger hunts and more. Families can watch educational videos and skits and share a campfire prayer experience and faith discussion.

“It’s like having a rainy day at camp,” Randles said. “It’s not the best, but you don’t stop.”

CYO camp leaders are inviting suggestions for additional content to be submitted by direct message on the CYO Camp Facebook page or by email.

Families who have already paid for 2020 summer camp can receive refunds or leave the funds in their accounts for 2021 camp sessions. Another option is donating all or part of the fees to CYO to offset the financial hardship of not operating camps this summer, Randles said.

COVID-19 also means the big 70th anniversary celebration planned for late this summer won’t be happening. There may be a smaller celebration or “it’s going to make for a great 71st year,” he said.

“We know that times like this are tough,” Randles said in the video. “I’d like to leave you with the words from Archbishop [Paul D.] Etienne on May 7. He reminded us to be patient, to protect our neighbors and to pray for everyone and continue to seek the intercession of our mother Mary.”