Dear Summer Camp Families,

For the past 25 years Doe River Gorge has existed “to glorify God by proclaiming His Word so as to cultivate in young people a passion to intimately know God resulting in a heart of worship, a desire for purity and a Christ centered vision for their lives.” Through fun, adventure, acceptance and love, our mission is to provide young people with the opportunity to encounter a relationship with the living God. Through the activities, relationships with the staff, and the teaching of God’s Word, we see hundreds of students meet God in life-changing ways each and every year. That’s why the message I am bringing to you today breaks our hearts.

We have been waiting for the past few months to learn if we could legally operate overnight summer camps and, if so, how we could safely do so in light of COVID-19. We have sought guidance from the CDC, the State of Tennessee, the Christian Camp and Conference Association, and the American Camping Association. The State of Tennessee just issued those guidelines on 6/2/20. From each of these authorities, most of the guidelines revolve around social distancing, wearing of masks, and constant sanitizing of frequently touched surfaces. But the biggest question we had was, “How do 6-10 kids safely sleep in the same room for eight hours each night without the risk of exposure?”

Because we did not feel that there was a satisfactory answer to that question, and because the safety of your child and our staff is of utmost importance, we have made the very difficult decision to suspend overnight camps for the summer of 2020.

This breaks our hearts because we live to see kids impacted by the Gospel each summer. Most of our staff and campers think of Doe River Gorge as their second home, and it’s hard to imagine not having camp this summer. It’s hard to imagine not experiencing the fun and adventure together...of not having all the hugs and laughter ... of not hearing all of the stories of what’s been happening in your life during the past year ... and of not being able to worship together under the Big Top Tent.

So, here’s the good news! To avoid some of those disappointments, we are looking at other programs that you and your family can enjoy. There are several possible options that we are exploring:

  1. Family Camps: This summer, for the first time in our history, you will be able to bring your entire family to Doe River Gorge for any length of stay you desire. Stay in a railroad car, a riverfront cabin or one of our lodging rooms. You can spend the day tubing the Doe River, fishing for trout, racing each other down the triple water landing ziplines, and roasting marshmallows over a campfire. More information will be coming soon
  2. Day Quest
  3. The Father/Son Challenge
  4. A customized fall/winter/spring retreat

Watch for more details on all of these possibilities, coming soon.

If you are already registered for camp and have made a deposit, there are several options:

First, you may TRANSFER your registration to 2021 – This will guarantee your spot for next year and lock in your rate at this year’s price, thus saving you any increase in fees. Plus, we will provide you with a free DAY QUEST pass for you and your family for the summer of 2020 or 2021, a value of $80 for a family of four.

Click here for 2021 Summer Camp dates.

Second, you may receive a CREDIT for any other future DRG program or purchase. This could be for any of the programs previously mentioned, as well as for purchases at the Outfitters Gift Shoppe or the Side Track Café.

Third, you may choose to DONATE some or all of 2020 camp fees to the Doe River Gorge COVID-19 Recovery Fund. In this difficult time, please know that any help from our camp families is sincerely appreciated! You will receive a tax-deductible receipt and your donation will go to keep Doe River Gorge operational for future generations.

Fourth, you may request a REFUND: This has been a tough stretch for our organization, and we would be grateful if you would consider another option before requesting refunds. If you do need a refund we will provide that as soon as we possibly can do so.

Finally, I know that many of you may be without employment and are being impacted financially. If you need financial assistance to participate in one of our summer programs we may be able to help through resources we have available in The Linda King Memorial Scholarship Fund or the Matthew Walker Scholarship Fund. Please let us know of your need.

A representative from Doe River Gorge will be calling soon to answer any questions you may have and to assist you in making the change to the option that is best for your family. You can also find all of this information on our website at www.doerivergorge.com

Finally, we ask that you keep us in your prayers. Please pray for our:

  1. Campers and families who have been looking forward to their Doe River Gorge experience from the day they signed up.
  2. Pray for our full-time staff who have given their lives and careers to minister and care for young people.
  3. Pray for the financial needs that we have already experienced. The financial impact has been tremendous. We would ask that you would pray about providing a gift to help us bridge this gap if God would lay it on your heart.
  4. Pray for our Board of Directors and leadership as they diligently work to guide this ministry in the days ahead.

In addition to your prayers, please consider helping us by utilizing our Guest Services options over the summer months. We are open and available for company or church picnics, birthday parties, corporate team-building exercises, and more. Contact us at 423.725.4010 for more information.

For you and all of us, this summer will be different and it will be hard. Change is hard! But there are two things that have not changed.

  1. First, we have a God who does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. And He loves you and He loves me more than we could ever imagine. He can use this difficult time for good, even if we don’t know how He is going to do it.
  2. Second, the mission of Doe River Gorge does not change. Please know that we are praying for you - that you will trust God completely and that you will grow closer to Him no matter where you are this summer. And we hope to see each of you, if not this summer, then definitely in the summer of 2021.

On behalf of our staff and the thousands of young people that we serve each year, thank you for standing with us during this time. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

For His Glory,

Terry Maughon
Doe River Gorge Ministries