Coronavirus Update 03-18-2020

NCUM Coronavirus Message

From the Executive Director of the NC UM Camp & Retreat Ministries, Inc.

Dear Families and Friends of Camps Chestnut Ridge, Don Lee and Rockfish,

For over 70 years, the NC UM Camp & Retreat Ministries has considered the health and well-being of our campers, guests and staff to be our utmost priority. As part of our camp community, I want to make you aware of steps that we are taking to continue that care as we respond to COVID-19.

Because of the fluidity of this virus and the ever-changing developments, we are closely monitoring reports and guidelines from the CDC, the President’s task force, the North Carolina Governor, the American Camp Association (ACA,) the Bishop of the NC Annual Conference and our own local Health Departments. We have always taken great care in developing and upholding practices to address a variety of communicable diseases. Yet COVID-19 has presented an unexpected, unprecedented, and rapidly emerging dilemma in our country, in our state and certainly at our camps.

In response to the state’s cancellation of schools, Camps Chestnut Ridge, Don Lee and Rockfish have also cancelled environmental education programming, afterschool and our preschool program. We have also cancelled or rescheduled retreats at each of our sites pending further information and developments of state mandates and guidelines. We have been working closely with retreat leadership and the school groups we serve in making these decisions together. We regret having to come to these conclusions, but in consideration of the health of our guests and staff, this is a necessary step.

As we maneuver our way through the uncharted waters and unforeseen impact of COVID-19, we will continue to pay close attention to updates provided by the various agencies mentioned above. At this time, we are continuing plans for another exciting, full 2020 summer camp season. Over the coming weeks, if information necessitates a change to this plan, we will make sure that you are informed. Camper families will be hearing directly from your children’s camps as we move through the next few weeks.

In the meantime, we hope that you are staying healthy and safe in the confines of your own homes. We hope and pray that the measures we all are taking will “flatten the curve” and decrease the spread of this outbreak. And, finally, we ask for your own prayers for our camp and retreat ministry as we work diligently to uphold and sustain this ministry and our loyal staff. We also extend our love and prayers to you and yours.

Dail D. Ballard
Executive Director
NC UM Camp & Retreat Ministries, Inc.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
    -Deuteronomy 31:8

Don Lee 2020 Calendar of Events!

OverProject 25

Sunday Dinner
February 16, 2020

Confirmation Retreat
March 6 - 7, 2020

Home School Day
March 13, 2020

Open House
April 4, 2020

Easter Sunrise Service
April 12, 2020

Father/Child Weekend
May 22 - 24, 2020

Family Retreat Weekend
May 22 - 24, 2020

Summer Camp
June 7 - August 8, 2020

Festival of Friends
August 9, 2020

Family Camp
August 9 - 13, 2020

It's Never Too Early To Start Planning For 2021!

Middle School Girls Retreat 2021
January 29 - 31, 2021

Confirmation Retreat 2021
March 5 - 6, 2021

•  •  •  •

Want To Create Your Own Event at Don Lee?!
CLICK HERE for more information how to book an event or retreat.
Dates available throughout the year except for June 6th - August 13th when Summer Camp 2020 is occurring.

Sunday Dinner Take Out!

OverProject 25

Make Holiday Meal Prep Easier - Order From The Don Lee Kitchen!

This holiday season we are offering a very special Sunday Dinner opportunity - three of our favorite Camp Don Lee 'sides' will be available to take home, just in time for your Christmas lunch or dinner!

Available For Pre-Order:
-Macaroni & Cheese (9-inch pan, $10.00)
-Collards (1 quart, $12.00)
-Shrimp Bisque (1 quart, $12.00)

All orders will be pre-order and pre-pay only, with quantities limited to 300 total units sold, so please place your order early. Products will be refrigerated and can be frozen with heating directions on the label.

PICK-UP IS FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20th BETWEEN 8:00am and 10:00am

All proceeds benefit Camperships at Camp Don Lee. This need-based fund provides financial aid so every child can have the opportunity to experience our Summer Camp ministry.


Or, contact Missy at 252.249.1106, ext. 21 to place your order.


Author Kim Smith (The Heart of a Warrior) Reflects On Her Don Lee Retreat!


Kim Rice Smith is the author of "The Heart of a Warrior" and the popular Facebook blog series of the same name. She recently posted two blogs about her experiences while attending a retreat at Camp Don Lee. They can be accessed by clicking these links or reading the blogs in full below.

Heart of a Warrior - Walls

Heart of a Warrior - Early Birds


Going away for a retreat is something that initially caused me a lot of stress. Could I put everything away and just stop until Monday? Would my brain be able to shut down all the worries and just relax? Should I really skip the traditional worship service at my church to worship on the beach at the retreat?
The answer to all of the above questions was, “YES”! Putting everything away was remarkably easy. My brain naturally shut down and opened itself up to the experience. I learned that being filled by the Holy Spirit doesn’t require a building at all. I already knew it, but got a powerful reminder!
Each time I walked to the end of the dock at the Camp Don Lee Center, I found myself walking and talking with God. The time there at sunrise Sunday morning, was...I can’t even find the words. I am not sure there are words to adequately describe the intensity of that experience.
We held Vespers by the water, read scripture, held hands as we sang and prayed for each other. We sang with loving imperfection, “It is Well” in memory of a beloved friend whose life here on earth we had celebrated one year to the day, earlier. We listened to “ Sailboat” by Ben Rector and each related our own life experiences to the words of the song. We did this to a backdrop of sailboats being moved from safe storage out for their work of this day.
We laughed. We cried. We prayed. We talked to God. We talked to each other. REALLY talked to each other about our hearts and lives. We had a spiritual workshop on how to work with each other and the messes we all carry, for the glory of God. All of this took place without walls of any kind.
My core belief as a Christian is that “church” needs to happen both inside...and OUTSIDE of the walls of our church buildings. How do we bring people to Christ if we let the comfort of our walls confine us safely within? How do they see Christ in us if we only look at each other?
The song “Sailboat” speaks of feeling lost...of hoping God hears us...of wanting to find our way. I felt with every fiber of my being that no matter how lost I feel at times, He is guiding my boat in the direction He needs to me to go in this temporary life. Those directions, if I choose to follow, will get me to my eternal home.
I also felt with every ray of sunshine, every whisper of breeze, every rustle of water, that my boat does not need to be trapped within walls. Neither does yours! My God...OUR God is too big to be held close and not shared.
This week, open the doors and take worship outside! Bring people in by first being spirit filled enough to go out and share Him with the world that is waiting. Share His message of forgiveness, love, and hope with people who desperately need to hear it. Let Him fill your sails for the journey ahead. Let Him lead you home. ❤️

“and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:17

Early Birds

Sitting at the foot of a cross as the sun rises is one of the most profound things I have ever experienced. When that cross is positioned at the end of a dock on the Neuse becomes absolutely spiritually life changing.
Shades of pink and orange break through the darkness as the soft morning breeze causes the water to gently brush against the dock. Occasionally a mullet fish will jump as if to say, “ it’s time“!
A fishing boat in the distance heads out for the day. A soft ripple of waves rush in the wake of its movement. Lights in scattered homes begin to pop on along the shoreline. Another early riser sits on the edge of the dock and listens to a podcast as she witnesses the dawn of a new day.
As the minutes pass, the pink spreads through the sky and begins to cast a soft glow on the water below. One... no two...stars hang on to see the sunrise.
To my right, the light of a new day. To my left, the darkness lingers as yesterday slowly says “ goodbye “. What a glorious design that allows such a gentle release to one day and a hope filled beginning to another. For a brief time, yesterday gets a glimpse of what follows.
As the daylight spreads, more boats begin their journeys. Birds begin to skim the river surface as they search for their breakfast. Their morning chorus blends with the gentle water flow. The sleepy campers begin to emerge from their cabins in anticipation of what the day will bring.
Imagine the possibilities! Imagine what it must feel like to be stuck in darkness but still be able to see the glory about to unfold!

“This day belongs to the Lord!
Let’s celebrate and be glad today.”
Psalm 118:24