COVID-19 Updates

During this time when so much of life is impacted by COVID-19, we want to keep the Highland community informed about how we are responding and adjusting to the situation. The buttons below will take you to specifics for guest groups or summer camp families; read further on this page for general updates, beginning with the most recent.

May 28, 2021 – The most recent Governor’s orders have removed many of the restrictions for guest retreats after May 28. Click the guest groups button above to read more details on current guest group guidance.

May 15, 2021 – In compliance with the Governor’s orders, guest retreats after May 15 can have up to 250 persons. Click the guest groups button above to read more details on current guest group guidance.

May 14, 2021 – Highland’s summer camp health policies are now available for camper families to review. Click the summer camp button above to learn more.

April 1, 2021 – In compliance with the Governor’s orders, guest retreats after April 1 can have up to 50 persons in indoor settings, and up to 100 persons in outdoor settings. Click the guest groups button above to read more details on current guest group guidance.

March 1, 2021 – In compliance with the Governor’s orders, guest retreats through the end of March are limited to 10 or fewer persons in indoor settings, and 25 or fewer persons in outdoor settings. Click the guest groups button above to read more details on current guest group guidance.

February 1, 2021 – Highland’s Board has approved a 2021 summer camp schedule! Registration will officially open on March 1st. Highland is committed to ensuring that we employ safe practices this summer, though the specifics of those practices are yet to be determined. Click the summer camp button above to read more details about summer safety and this year’s slightly-modified registration process.

December 2020 In compliance with the Governor’s orders, guest retreats from December 14 to January 31 February 28 are limited to 10 or fewer persons. Click the guest groups button above to read more details on current guest group guidance.

July 1, 2020 – Update from Executive Director Kent Kauffman

Since March, Highland’s COVID-19 taskforce has been meeting regularly to evaluate the most current guidance and regulations issued from the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC. Our taskforce includes a medical doctor and a school administrator, along with representatives from Highland’s Board and staff.

As of July 1, Virginia has entered Phase 3, which allows businesses like Highland to serve larger groups and provide more services, as long as certain guidelines can be achieved. There are a number of things we are doing to serve guests differently, following the advice and directives of our COVID-19 taskforce. Here are some examples:

  • Our housekeepers have received additional training to help them maximize safety for themselves and our guests.
  • Common bathhouses are sanitized regularly throughout the day, in addition to daily cleanings.
  • Capacity in the pool area is currently limited to allow 10′ between unrelated swimmers.
  • All staff wear masks when having face-to-face conversations where 10′ of separation isn’t possible.
  • Kitchen staff wear masks and wash hands more frequently. Serving utensils are used by kitchen staff only.
  • All recreation equipment is stored in the main office, and is either sanitized or given a three-day rest between uses.
  • Capacity for meeting spaces is currently limited to allow appropriate physical distancing between participants.

Even as we are carefully taking precautions such as these, we are incredibly thankful to have an outdoor setting where physical distancing will often occur naturally. We are excited to be able to serve larger groups again, and hope to see many of you here with us in the near future.

June 6, 2020 Families are invited to participate in the special programs Highland is offering to families this summer. Learn more and sign up!

May 13, 2020 – Letter from Program Director Dean Williams

We know that many in the Highland community have wondered how COVID-19 will affect our summer camps this year. That question has been heavy on our hearts since the quarantine began, and has been the center of much careful consideration, discussion, and prayer. We keep returning to the same questions:

  1. What changes would we have to make to keep our campers and summer staff safe and healthy?
  2. Would we be able to maintain the essence of a Highland Summer Camp experience while following physical distancing requirements?
  3. How would the presence of even a single case of COVID-19 at Highland impact all other campers and staff (and their families)?
  4. Would we be able to give our summer staff and camper families ample notice about any changes to the summer camp schedule that might become necessary over the course of the summer?

Ultimately, our COVID-19 taskforce, our staff, and our Board of Directors all arrived at the same conclusion: Highland will not run traditional summer camps this year. For us, this decision inspired a sense of loss and many, many questions. We have in no way decreased our desire to be a place of Christian ministry, but this strange season means we are going to have to go about it in different ways. We are already working hard to move forward with new options designed for the current situation.

One of the ideas that has sparked the most enthusiasm in our staff revolves around serving individual families. We are generating many ideas for what this might look like, but we ultimately want to make sure that what we offer is meaningful to the families we serve. An unexpected benefit of this unusual summer is that family outings at Highland can be enjoyed even by those who are outside the normal age range of our summer campers! Whether your family currently has camper-aged children or not, we invite you to contribute your thoughts and opinions about the new options for family outings, so we can design experiences that could serve families like yours.

Share your thoughts by completing this survey.

May 1, 2020 – Letter from Program Director Dean Williams

Over the past several weeks, many of you have been have wondering what’s happening with 2020 Highland Summer Camp due to COVID-19. Highland’s COVID-19 Taskforce is regularly updating Highland’s Board of Directors on the latest information obtained from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and camping organizations. With this guidance we hope to announce our plans for the summer camp program for 2020 on Wednesday, May 13th. At that time we will clarify whether we are able to run a full summer program, modified summer program, or no summer program. This is a challenging decision for us which requires careful consideration and prayer as the situation unfolds. We as staff and the Board of Directors covet your prayer as we seek God’s wisdom and plan for 2020 Highland Summer Camps. 

April 3, 2020 update

Highland Retreat’s Board of Directors has stated that, in accordance with current government guidance, no overnight groups may stay on Highland Retreat grounds. While all guest facilities are currently closed, day use visitors and volunteers are still welcome on Highland grounds, provided that there are no gatherings of more than 10 people in any designated area. This is in effect immediately and will extend through early June, to coincide with the Governor of Virginia’s executive order issued on March 30, 2020. 

March 19, 2020 – Letter from Executive Director Kent Kauffman

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  – John 14:27 (NIV)

Dear friends,

What Highland Retreat does naturally is gather people, so closing our doors to families and church groups of more than 10 people feels counterintuitive – but it follows state and federal guidelines and is the right thing to do. Our Board recently extended the 15-day suggested period to one that is reasonable for what we now know and which gives families and leaders time to adjust their plans. The decision was made to only serve individuals or groups of less than 10 people until the end of April and to offer a full refund for groups who have reservations within that time frame.

What happens next is a moving target. A COVID-19 taskforce has been created to respond to ongoing developments, and we will continue to take our lead from the various health authorities and adjust accordingly. Highland staff are creating a page on our website where you can find our latest updates; we also welcome your phone calls and emails. We are asking for your supportive patience as we all look ahead in these uncertain times.

In the meantime, Highland will deep clean buildings, reevaluate best practices in hospitality, communicate with stakeholders, complete in-progress projects (bridges), and prepare for another incredible summer of ministry!

God made all of us to love and be social, so while we want to encourage everyone to take all necessary precautions to isolate physically, we also encourage you not to isolate socially and spiritually. Facetime friends, conduct Zoom meetings, serve your neighbors, get take-out from local restaurants, devote time for spiritual growth, plan outdoor adventures. And join us in prayer for everyone in our world who is actively dealing with the effects of the virus in big and small ways.

John 14:27 (above) was going to be the theme verse for the senior high retreat that we cancelled this past weekend, but it continues to be especially relevant. May the peace of Christ dwell in you richly in the midst of uncertain times!