Saying they couldn't safely host their typical 50,000+ campers safely amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Oklahoma Baptists announced Monday that their Falls Creek Youth Camp would be canceled for the 2020 summer season.
"With a heavy heart, and after extensive consultation with pastors, lay leaders and information from public health officials, we have made the difficult decision to cancel," said Hance Dilbeck, Oklahoma Baptists' executive director-treasurer, in a statement.
The Baptists say this is only the fourth summer since Falls Creek opened in 1917 that camp would be canceled for the entire summer. Twice, in 1944 and 1945, sessions were canceled due to World War II; in 1943, the camp shut down due to a public health emergency related to a polio outbreak.
Dilbeck said Oklahoma Baptists will work to craft programming on a smaller scale for young people and ministries across the state.
"While these beloved camps will not be able to meet on the campgrounds in 2020, our convention staff is currently producing a ministry curriculum and localized event strategies to come alongside churches to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with young people across the state this summer," Dilbeck's statement reads.
The Falls Creek Baptist Convention Center sits on 360 acres in Murray County. It purports to be the largest youth camp, religious or secular, in the country. United States Senator James Lankford (R-OK) served as the camp's program director until 2009.