Recently, Bishop Joseph Bambera and the diocesan advisory staff made the unfortunate decision to close Camp St. Andrew to all of the area children and their families who have enjoyed its beautiful grounds and serene setting for 75 years.
Without warning, the camp and its grounds were unceremoniously and permanently closed on Oct. 6. In his published statement, the bishop cited declining numbers as the reason for the closure, yet, in the same statement, he indicated that 650 children attended those camps this summer.
The prospect of permanently closing the camp due to a declining enrollment was never shared with those families who were invested in the camp, and no opportunity was given to find alternative funding for the camp. If the 650 children who benefited from the camps this summer were not enough to sustain its operation, why weren’t efforts made to promote the camp and increase the enrollment?
The blow might not have been so stinging had the staff and children who attended this camp year after year been given a chance to bid their summer home a proper goodbye. One can and should question why Camp St. Andrew’s closure was treated with such secrecy and abruptness. It is unfortunate that the diocese places profit above the children who called the camp “home” for a short time each summer.
To the volunteers and staff of Camp St. Andrew, thank you for the memories and experiences that you have provided over the past 75 years. I am greatly saddened that the traditions and life lessons that you have instilled will not continue and that others will not know the gift of attending Camp St. Andrew. There are many children who grew in maturity and caliber because of your dedication. Thank you.
To Bishop Bambera and his diocesan advisors, if the decision regarding the grounds of Camp St. Andrew has, in truth, not been reached, then it is not too late to reverse your decision and preserve the camp for our youth. Options for continuing its operation should be explored. Minimally, provide an open house and let those who enjoyed and supported the camp for 75 years bid a proper farewell to their home away from home.
I pray that the beautiful grounds of Camp St. Andrew, which were donated to the diocese, will be used for a noble purpose.