Summer Camp Update

Update: June 22, 2020

Dear Friends of Briarwood,
Today, I share the disappointing news that Briarwood will not be able to host Summer 2020 on-site camping programs. Our teams of Briarwood staff and counselors have been diligently preparing for our planned early July start. The Covid-19 coronavirus has yet again disrupted summer plans … for Briarwood and, more importantly, the families that were planning on having a safe place for their children to be.
We are happy to announce, however, that we will be offering online summer camp programming. We are maintaining employment for our counselors, even as they work from their respective locations. That means that we’ll have several exciting opportunities for young people to interact with counselors, both in real-time (live!) and recorded modes. 
More information on those online opportunities will be available soon. In the meantime, get your Zoom room ready! These online community opportunities will be available at no cost.
Our decision to not host onsite programming is due to the recent uptick in every Covid-19 coronavirus measurement (throughout Texas, as well as in Denton and Dallas Counties). At all times, the safety of each camper, guest, and staff member is our utmost priority; these growing numbers led Briarwood leadership to conclude that we cannot ensure that onsite programming meets our safety standards. 
Children, we know, are less susceptible to the most harmful effects of Covid-19. We are concerned, however, that Briarwood could become a site of infection spread that children would then carry back into their home environments, eventually reaching persons who are more vulnerable. Additionally, coronavirus-related concerns have limited the number of counselors we could expect onsite, creating additional coverage and safety concerns. 
In this difficult time, Briarwood is becoming a new thing. We have long understood ourselves as a place where people can gather together to experience God’s love. Now, we have sharpened our mission to be a place that creates community for that same reason. Community, as we saw in the success of this year’s online Briarwood Gala, can be created in person or through online means. While we long for the time we can gather together in person, we will, in the meantime, continue creating community engagement opportunities.
We will continue to pray for the safety of our Briarwood family and all our surrounding communities. This has been a year filled with disruption, disappointment, and loss. We will continue doing what we can to accompany you, providing opportunities to learn, grow, and praise God in all things!
Robert Smith




Update: May 20, 2020

Dear Friends of Briarwood,


During the past several weeks, the Board and staff of Briarwood Leadership Center, along with Bishop Gronberg and other leaders in the NT-NL Synod, have been discerning the path forward toward reopening Briarwood and welcoming guests back on site. Along with you and a multitude of other ministries, we are closely following public health data and guidance. 


Along with seeking to be faithful stewards of Briarwood facilities and funds, the health and safety of every person in our Briarwood community is our top priority. This is true of our staff members and our guests, whether those guests are campers, short-term space renters, or retreat participants. 


In keeping with this ongoing discernment, we have decided to:


-       cancel all weeks of overnight Summer Camp

-       cancel all congregational Day Camps

-       postpone the start of BASE Camp (onsite day camp) until at least July 6


We will be closely monitoring the public health situation in order to determine the feasibility of late June and July programming possibilities. While we aren’t able to provide a full summer of programming, we will be able to utilize our counselors and the energy they bring. Read on for more details.


Camper Families

If you are currently registered for one of our cancelled summer programs, you will receive an email to guide your next steps. We know that every family is different, and every situation is different. You will have the chance to transfer payments to a future event or receive a refund. If you can, we invite you to invest in the future of Briarwood by donating all or part of your registration payments. In the next two weeks, a Briarwood representative will contact you to walk you through this process.


Congregational Leaders

If you are a congregational leader hosting a Day Camp or overseeing a Group hold in one of our cancelled summer programs, a Briarwood representative will contact you directly. Your congregation may choose to transfer payments to a future event, receive a refund, or donate all or part of your payments.


Changing Realities

This pandemic has dramatically changed our lives on both individual and societal levels. Briarwood has been challenged in many ways that affect its understanding of its mission and vision. Our mission of creating and sustaining community has shifted from drawing people together in a particular space to experimenting with new ways of bringing people together across space. Every challenge brings new possibilities, and this pandemic, as terrible as it is, has been no exception. Your tremendous participation in the online Briarwood Gala—the first of its kind!—is a testament to those possibilities.


Over the next few weeks, you will see more and more of how Briarwood Leadership Center is leaning into these new ministry opportunities. We will be delving deeper into questions of leadership in these particularly challenging times. As our vocation expands—both as Christian leaders and as faith-based institutions—we hope to learn lessons that will carry us into the future.


Part of Briarwood’s leadership is our commitment to the young adult leaders we have hired as summer staff. Our country is facing a profound crisis of unemployment. This crisis could have lasting effects for young adults. Briarwood has made a commitment to this group of young adults, an investment that will provide immediate and lasting benefit. 


This summer, our counselors will stand ready to participate in BASE Camp operations. Additionally, they will create online opportunities for young people who would have joined us onsite to have social interaction with one another and with counselors … over a meal, around a campfire, in devotions and worship. We will expand established efforts like Avery’s “Walk through the Bible” videos on our Facebook page. 


Moreover, the counselors will engage in leadership development training and conversation, producing meaningful content for campers and community members and of benefit to the broader church. Camp is an excellent place for developing leadership capacities with children, youth, and young adults alike. Again, our Gala videos tell an amazing story!


Into the Future

Briarwood has a strong legacy of creating and sustaining community. This pandemic doesn’t change that. We deeply appreciate your ongoing support in the midst of these trying times. Briarwood wouldn’t be Briarwood without you as part of the family.




Robert Smith

Director, Briarwood Leadership Center