During 2020 due to COVID-19, the Pennsylvania Christian retreat center industry, has hosted less retreats than in the past. During the last six months the Bongiorno Christian Conference Center experienced the cancelation of retreat groups and Christian camps in PA. We wanted to host groups but with so much unknown about COVID-19 and changing regulations coming down from our state government, we felt we could not hold retreats in good conscience. Thankfully the state of Pennsylvania allowed an exception for religious groups to meet. We needed to be wise and we need to think about the safety of groups and reducing the risk of COVID-19 during our meetings or retreats.
Our geographic area of Pennsylvania entered the green phase in June which allowed us to hold Pennsylvania Christian camp and retreats of a larger size, but with cautions and safety protocols. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidelines for children and youth overnight camps. These guidelines were not mandated laws, but were very strong recommendations.
In the month of July our Christian Conference center hosted a youth camp with over 400 teens and a children’s camp with over 230 children. Both camps operated with the guidelines recommended by the CDC as well as even more stringent guidelines when it came to food service and other areas. At Bongiorno, our Pennsylvania Christian camp, the cleaning staff have worked extra hours with EPA N chemicals. We’ve done our normal cleaning and then have gone beyond to clean high touch surfaces.
Our food service has done an excellent job, with every staff member wearing masks and gloves. We were extra cautious during July and August with no self-serve buffets. Food items were portioned out in disposable containers, staff would serve drinks and sanitize tables after guests exited. Our July and August groups did not experience any Covid issues. This is great news for Christian Camps in Pennsylvania.
We served several adult groups in August, September and the beginning of October. Sneeze guards, masks and gloves along with disposable plates and utensils allowed us to resume with a self-service buffet . Food service was carefully monitored. Masks worn by attendees when social distancing was not possible also created a more sanitary environment. Public areas cleaned and sanitized often also helped. We purchased an electrostatic sprayer to help sanitize those difficult areas, meeting rooms and chairs.
We are owned by a denomination that holds all of their Christian camps in Pennsylvania. We outlined the risks and precautions (masks, social distancing, etc.) we were taking in a COVID form and disclaimer. We asked the same question asked when going to a Doctor’s office . and we required temperature checks when arriving on campus. This was a comforting thought knowing that everyone who attended walked in as healthy as possible.
We are one of the few groups that were able to hold summer camps without any COVID-19 issues. We planned ahead; we thought it through and we took extra precautions. Everything in life has a risk. As a Christian retreat center in PA, we do our best to minimize that risk as much as possible.
Bongiorno is open for ministry, ready to host you. We are a Christian conference center, a religious organization and allowed to hold religious meetings in Pennsylvania. We also operate with caution, we don’t live with a spirit of fear but we strive to live with a spirit of wisdom. If you’re having second thoughts, not sure about holding a retreat, give us a call we’ll share some of our precautions with you. Hold your next retreat at a Pennsylvania Christian retreat center.