Welcome to the summer of 2022 in Montreat! As the season beckons us together, our staff and volunteers are making ready for a season that should look and feel remarkably like summers past. Thanks be to God!
While gratitude is in order every summer, we are particularly mindful of our blessings now in consideration of what togetherness meant over the past two years. In the summer of 2020, being together often was confined to a passing greeting on the street – at a distance. 2021 brought us more together, but often behind a mask. This summer, we anticipate further steps forward:
- Conference attendance continues to rebound. For example, we expect that youth conference attendance will exceed 3,500 this summer, higher than in 2021 (though still markedly short of pre-pandemic levels).
- Clubs and recreation programs are again fully subscribed with waiting lists in the busier weeks.
- We concluded our 2021-2022 fiscal year on April 30th in good financial shape. Details will be forthcoming in a report following our annual audit this summer.
Notably, we are further relaxing social distancing and masking policies this June. We will begin the summer without any requirement that program participants and conference guests mask indoors. This includes summer worship and other events in Anderson Auditorium. (We will, however, begin the summer by requesting that our staff mask indoors while they are guest-facing.) I’ll have more to say about COVID precautions in a post next week and, of course, unfolding events could necessitate further steps. For now, greet each other with the smile each one of you deserves for having been so patient these last two years!
One thorn from the pandemic era remains, and it’s a particularly painful one for me. Last summer, I announced that the Huckleberry would reopen in June of 2022. Such a commitment seemed reasonable at the time, but I underestimated several challenges, including the time that careful planning would require, supply chain issues and, most recently, the unanticipated but rather stringent requirements of our friendly neighborhood health inspector. We still plan to reopen the Huck this summer, but it is not ready at this writing. The responsibility for your disappointment lies not with the many who have worked incredibly hard to get the Huck ready, but with me, who made a promise I couldn’t keep. I’m sorry.
The good news is that the developments that slowed us down will also improve the outcome. I’m more excited than ever that the newly renovated Huck will be a great attraction for our guests, for special events, and a wonderful new hub for “life around the lake.” The survey data collected from you last summer has shaped the plan and our decisions; ice cream will certainly remain on the menu and the porch will remain a prime spot for enjoying a scoop. Moreover, we’ve taken to heart your belief that Moore Center and the Huck in particular are especially important for community life. It’s a place that people want to be, and so the Huck represents a great opportunity to bring Montreaters together.
Perhaps that’s a fitting way to end this post: looking forward, together.
President, Montreat Conference Center