All Tribes Summer Camps Cancelled

All Tribes Summer Camps Cancelled
photo provided

Drive down shady, serpentine Hilton Road on St. Joseph’s Island, past the Free Methodist Church and the Memorial Tree Farm, and you’ll see a pair of crossed wooden arrows that mark the entrance to All Tribes’ Christian Camp.

That first impression fills you with nostalgia whether your own upbringing involved camp or not; the quiet, vintage, country atmosphere makes it easy to see why generations have come here since Millie Jacobs Troyer established the camp in 1963. That first look, though, doesn’t begin to give a glimpse into the joyous chaos of hundreds of campers making lifelong memories in this place every year. To them, All Tribes’ is a wild, glorious adventure.
This year All Tribes’ had a lineup of five camps planned to run, including its famous and very well-attended Vacation Bible School (VBS) for ages 4-13, and estimated that they would minister to approximately 200 campers and their families. The reservations had already started coming in when their world was put on hold by the same virus that has paused ‘normal’ for all of us. This year, though, after much consideration as to the safety of its campers and the community at large, All Tribes’ made the difficult decision to cancel its camps. The Vacation Bible School, the weekend family camp, the overnight camps for pre-teens and teens, and the new Cornerstone Preaching Camp – all set aside for the greater good.
“Though it is hard for us to go a summer without camp, we know this is the best decision to keep our loved ones safe” said camp director, Chrissy Flietstra. “This year is going to be very hard on us financially as we will not be able to run our yardsale, nor will we have the income from our programs.” All Tribes’ is not alone in this sacrifice. This Spring and Summer have been filled with plenty of challenges for us all. Challenges that we’re having to find creative ways to work around while we look optimistically to a future when we are able to resume some of the normal activities we love. For the camp, this looks like making the best of a difficult summer and planning for an amazing summer next year. “We are planning alternative programs for summer 2020 and have big ideas in the works for 2021” Flietstra said.   The best way for a community to help ensure that beloved, long-standing institutions are around after the dust settles from this tumultuous 2020 is to lend our practical support to keeping them alive and participating in whatever the camp decides on for alternative programming is one way to do this. “If people are able to give financially it would go a long way” Flietstra said.