• 63°

Rustic Youth Camp nixes summer camp as coronavirus restrictions continue

Rustic Youth Camp has been around for 40 years, but this year, canceling camp because of COVID-19 has led founder Jackie Richardson to reflect on the impact the camp has had.

Richardson said in the 40 years Rustic Youth Camp has been around, campers from 48 states and several different countries have been in attendance.

“Right now I am getting new letters every day from old campers telling me how big of an impact it had on them,” Richardson said.

Richardson said he hated making the decision to cancel camp for this year, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, it did not seem possible to host the usual activities.

“We take 150 campers each year, but we were told that to hold camp, we would need to limit it to 50, with no one staying overnight and maintaining social distancing,” Richardson said. “I completely understand that with everything going on, but I don’t know how we could have had camp with 50 campers and told the other 100 they couldn’t come. It just didn’t seem fair.”

Richardson said most every year the camp fills up in less than a minute after registrations opens, with most campers having their registration information filled out beforehand.

“At first I thought having camp fill up in a minute must have been some sort of malfunction or a fluke, but sure enough, we filled up in less than a minute the next year too,” Richardson said.

Richardson said Rustic Youth Camp has been the site for many memories, with some campers even getting engaged there before being married and later sending their own children to camp.

“We have grown to be a big family, with the family being spread all across the world,” Richardson said.

Richardson, who lives on the campgrounds with his wife Bunny, said this summer does not feel the same without Rustic Youth Camp.

“I still have all of the facilities here, but it just isn’t the same without the kids running around,” Richardson said. “To me, the kids are what makes this place.”

Richardson said he is sad to not have Rustic Youth Camp this year but knows everyone will be even more excited next year when they are able to return.