Summer in Montreat

Over the last couple of months, we at Montreat Conference Center have received and studied guidance and data from various sources in hopes that, when the time came, we could make informed decisions about the best path forward for our summer programs. Below are activities, events, and locations traditional to the Montreat summer experience that we have had to adjust due to Covid-19 realities.

These plans are effective immediately and are intended to extend through August 8th, pending further guidance and changing conditions during that time period. In each and every case, however, our plans and decisions were made looking through the lens of four questions in particular.

Read our explanations to these changes.

Read our original statement about these changes.

Summer activities end August 7


Events & Activities

Crafts & Pottery

Open by reservation only.

Sign-up sheets are near the door at the Craft & Pottery Center

Classes are reserved for persons 12 and older. Please note that due to COVID-19 restrictions, the number of people allowed in the studio will be limited, which will also limit the number of classes that can be taught. Masks are required.

Find the latest schedule at the Facebook page.

Montreat@Home

An online experience isn’t the same as being in Anderson Auditorium together, but we didn’t want to leave our Youth and Middle School conferees without a chance to feel the Montreat community, especially after they have lost so many other rites of passage this spring. Montreat@Home is an experience that’s suitable to a virtual format and customizable by youth leaders depending on local circumstances.

Learn about Montreat@Home.

Summer Sabbath Rates

Montreat welcomes you this summer to the mountains for Sabbath opportunities at the Assembly Inn, with some limited recreational opportunities available. Reservations open on June 19th. We will be operating at reduced capacity and providing guidelines for guests based on guidance and requirements from Buncombe County and the state. Reservations require a two night minimum.

Learn about the Summer Sabbath opportunity.

Summer Worship

Moved Online.

Participate in Summer Worship here.

This Week in Montreat (TWIM)

During the summer of 2020, This Week in Montreat will not be a traditional print publication, and will instead be located on our blog as part of conference center president Richard DuBose's weekly updates.

Read these updates each Friday afternoon here.

Fourth of July Community Activities

Please note that we will not be holding our regularly scheduled Fourth of July activities this year. Other activities around Montreat include:
  • The Town of Montreat will be hosting walk-throughs of their new town hall building on the 4th! Our Development team will be there handing out popsicles. Go for a tour and get a popsicle from 10:00am-1:00pm.
  • The Presbyterian Heritage Center (PHC) will host a virtual Fourth of July with an online exhibit featuring Montreat's Tarnished Brass community band, videos of the 2019 and 2016 parades, photos from 1930s-today, and more. Visit their website to learn more.
  • View and listen to a conversation with Rev. Amos Disasa, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, TX, and Richard DuBose, conference center president, on the Fourth of July in Montreat and the different ways people gather around the "idea of America."

Recreation Activities

Canoes & Paddleboats

Closing Friday, August 7.

Access to these activities will be scheduled, limited, and monitored to ensure appropriate social distancing and that safe practices are followed by all participants and staff at all times.

Located on Lake Susan. $5 per boat per half hour.

Open Daily: 1:00pm–6:00pm

Fishing

Fishing permits are not required at this time. Refer to signage around the lake for fishing/non-fishing areas and please follow all posted rules below:

  • Please have fishing permit OR your conference name badge available when fishing
  • Creel limit is four fish per permit per day
  • Do not release fish after catching (unless using artificial lures)
  • Children under age 8 accompanied by a parent (with permit) and persons over 75 fish free
  • Use only WORMS or ARTIFICIAL LURES
  • Please use NO FOOD PRODUCTS (bread, cheese, corn, etc.).
  • No fishing after dark
  • No fishing before 1 PM on Sundays
  • Fish from designated areas only. Do not fish from jetty with bench or docks when boats are in operation
  • Do not fish with treble or group hook
  • No wading

Hiking & Nature Center

Please follow all signage posted on trails. Maintain social distancing whenever possible.

Hiking is open. Digital maps are found here. Physical trail maps can be found at the Nature Center at the bottom of Lookout Road. To learn more our stewardship of the Montreat Valley and the Montreat Wilderness, click here.

View the public hike schedule.

The Huckleberry Cafe

Closed for the summer.

Please note that the Huckleberry is under the management of Montreat College.

Monkey Bottom Picnic Area

By reservation only.

Please call the front desk of Assembly Inn at 828.669.2911 to make a reservation.

The Montreat Store

Summer Hours
Monday–Saturday 11:00 am–4:00 pm

Call before you visit if you have questions at 828.669.5298.

Robert Lake Park

Closed until further notice.

Robert Lake Park remains closed because play equipment is considered a significant risk to children and their families. We may reopen Robert Lake Park as government guidance evolves during the summer, but we do not expect a change in current restrictions before June 26th.

Swimming

Closing Friday, August 7.

Access to these activities will be scheduled, limited, and monitored to ensure appropriate social distancing and that safe practices are followed by all participants and staff at all times. The pool will be closed for cleaning in between the sessions listed below.

To avoid cross contamination due to Covid-19, we will not be providing pool chairs. You must bring your own chairs to the pool.

Hours are subject to change.

Due to Covid19 and required additional cleaning, we will be open in sessions. Limit 40 people.

Monday–Saturday:
10:00 am–12:00pm Session #1
1:00–2:00 pm Adult Lap Swim Only
2:00–3:45 pm Session #2
4:15–6:00 pm Session #3
Sunday:
2:00–3:45 pm Session #1
4:15–6:00 pm Session #2
Admission: $5.00 per person. Three and under, free.

Tennis & Pickleball

Currently open on first come first serve basis.

Staff will be unavailable until later in July, at which point access will be scheduled, limited, and monitored to ensure appropriate social distancing and that safe practices are followed by all participants and staff at all times.

Ten Thousand Villages

Summer Hours
Monday–Saturday 11:00 am–5:00 pm
Sun 1:00–4:00pm

For up to date information about Ten Thousand Villages, visit their Facebook page or give them a call at 828.669.1406.

Yoga

Yoga will take place Mondays & Wednesdays at 8:30 am July 6 through August 5 on the Moore Center Field (rain space is Upper Anderson). The cost is $12 (cash only) and pre-registration is not required. Please bring your own mat and towel

Canceled Activities

  • Clubs & Childcare
  • Friday Night Barn Dances
    • Note that though barn dances are canceled for the summer, you can watch a recording of the Rhiannon and the Relics concert here after Friday, July 17th. You can also watch novelty dances with Beth Bannerman Gunn & Lee Ann Bannerman here beginning at 7pm on Friday, July 31st. 
  • Fourth of July Parade and Festivities (with the exception of activites noted above)

 

Summer FAQ

Can we carry out the program within current government health guidelines and in ways that minimize risk?

We have been guided in this area by 1) the succession of executive orders issued by the State of North Carolina, most recently Executive Order 141 on May 22nd and 2) similar restrictions and guidance from Buncombe County. Further, we’ve consulted with Town officials and medical authorities on a more informal but deliberate basis. Our conclusions from this review are that 1) groups of people and individuals who come to Montreat this summer should stay together and mix minimally with others, and that 2) social distancing and other recommended safety protocols must be observed. As we make plans to receive families, youth groups, and church retreats as guests, we must encourage activities that meet these criteria.

Can the program be delivered effectively under restricted circumstances?

With each program we have to consider whether doing a particular activity would make sense given accommodations we’d have to make in terms of participation, social distancing, and other guidelines. We reviewed carefully the American Camp Association guidelines as well as interim guidance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services regarding Day Camps and Overnight Camps.

In a time of severe financial restrictions, can we afford to provide the program?

We already anticipate the possibility that we will need reserve funds to cover expenses in the current fiscal year. We cannot run programs that would increase the chances of a further depletion of our reserves.

Can we provide the program with minimal staff support?

In a typical summer season, the conference center brings an additional 125 people to support summer activities. They work, live, and play in close proximity to each other. We’re working this year to minimize the size of summer staff and therefore the risk of spread to and among our summer staff.

We believe that these plans and decisions establish appropriate guardrails to provide good programming and opportunities for fellowship in Montreat while mitigating risk to participants and the community. As you learn more, keep in mind that these plans could change, depending upon the evolving conditions of the coronavirus here and elsewhere. We will continue to monitor the data and guidance of the authorities and will continue to consult with the Town of Montreat and with medical professionals. We reserve the right to further restrict or cancel programs as necessary as the summer proceeds.

In other words, we will confront each new day with as much agility and patience as we can possibly muster. We invite each of you to embrace that spirit with us, confident as we are that God is with us all during this time of uncertainty and change. Our board, staff, and volunteers continue to be guided by our commitments to service and hospitality even under these limited conditions, and to keep you informed as we go. Bless you all for your ongoing support and encouragement.

More to come!


Summer Activity  Explanations

Below are our explanations for changes for different summer activities and event.

Youth Conference

As we did for our youth conferences in June, we’re moving content for our remaining youth conference programming online, adjusting to provide leadership, content, and activities appropriate for a streaming format. Even though conditions have improved in North Carolina and we know more than we did a month ago, we simply cannot convene youth together in numbers in Anderson Auditorium, nor can we proceed with our small group format. Even if the guidelines from the state relax sufficiently in time to permit these types of activities, we judge that full conferences on our campus just wouldn’t be safe for staff, volunteers, and participants.

Middle School Conference

As we did for our youth conferences in June, we’re moving content for our remaining youth and middle school conference programming to an online dashboard, adjusting to provide leadership, content, and activities appropriate for groups at home. Our staff and conference planning team have determined that we can provide programming for this age group that will work well for middle school groups and individuals.

Group Retreats

Church groups, families and individuals will be allowed to make reservations at Montreat lodges, including Assembly Inn, this summer. Lodging will be limited so that the conference center can meet the occupancy requirements and social distancing guidelines for lodging facilities and restaurants recommended by the State of North Carolina and Buncombe County.

Guests will be able to participate in recreational and arts events held on our campus. We will require that all groups honor applicable guidelines and restrictions for gathering indoors and outdoors set forth by the State of North Carolina. We will strongly advise our guests to spend time only with each other and to maintain social distancing while in Montreat.

Recreation and Arts Programs and Facilities

Open and available for use on a first-come basis
  • The Montreat wilderness area and hiking trails
  • Tennis courts
  • Monkey Bottom

These three recreation areas have been reopened for several weeks. They require minimal staffing and support. Users are cautioned to observe social distancing guidelines at all times. We do plan to bring a team of rangers to lead community hikes and perform trail maintenance to Montreat later in the summer. We plan to staff the tennis courts in July.

Opening July 12th
  • The swimming pool
  • Paddle boats and canoes at Lake Susan

These activities and facilities require a greater degree of staffing and require that their areas and equipment remain sanitized. Under our current staffing plan, we expect to open these facilities during the second half of the summer. Access to these activities will be scheduled, limited, and monitored to ensure appropriate social distancing and that safe practices are followed by all participants and staff at all times.

Opening by reservation beginning in June
  • Montreat Campground

The Campgrounds are now open at a reduced capacity for reservations.

  • The Sally Jones Pottery and Currie Craft Center

These facilities will have limited capacity and will require greater attention to sanitation and distancing, particularly since some activities take place indoors. Beginning June 16, limited-capacity glass making and sewing classes will be offered in the Currie Craft Center. Beginning July 6, limited-capacity pottery classes will be offered in the Sally Jones Pottery. Access to these activities will be scheduled, limited, and monitored to ensure appropriate social distancing and that safe practices are followed by all participants and staff at all times.

Closed for the summer
  • Bill Wilde Youth Center
  • Dunn Pavilion

These facilities require onsite staff support. More importantly, available data suggests that indoor recreation activities and exercise represent a significant risk to participants and staff for a variety of reasons. We plan, therefore, to keep these facilities closed to the public for the summer.

Still closed but pending
  • Robert Lake Park

Robert Lake Park remains closed because play equipment is considered a significant risk to children and their families. We may reopen Robert Lake Park as government guidance evolves during the summer, but we do not expect a change in current restrictions before June 26th.

Summer Staff

Our reconfigured programming and summer ambitions will require a limited number of summer staff to help us implement successfully. To that end, we are reaching out to each summer staffer who was previously hired to determine their willingness and ability to participate. In considering their options, summer staffers should keep in mind that:

  • Roles and responsibilities are subject to change, and may be altered by your supervisor on a daily basis.
  • While some staffers will perform duties that largely align with their original job descriptions, duties may differ to some extent or even entirely.
  • All staffers will be expected to accept any reasonable assignment, including those that promote and protect the safety of each other and our community.
  • Guidelines and restrictions governing behavior and social interactions will be adjusted to include appropriate covenants for social distancing and gatherings. Each staff member will be required to agree to these additional terms.

Finding lodging for every summer staffer in a way that minimizes risk will be a key factor in determining whether this summer is a good fit for each potential member of staff.

Summer Worship

We remain committed to joining in worship as a community for prayer and praise each Sunday morning this summer. The 2020 Summer Worship Series in Montreat begins online and live with Trinity Sunday on June 7th at 10:30 a.m. All preachers previously scheduled have agreed to participate in sustaining and supporting the worship life of our community this summer. We have not ruled out some in-person attendance later in the summer, but our worship team is already planning ten wonderful services regardless.

You may view the list of our ten summer preachers and other details about summer worship here.

Clubs Programs

Several factors informed our decision to cancel traditional clubs programs this summer, principal among them our effort to determine whether widespread testing would be available in Western North Carolina for the summer months. Based on the best available information, we do not believe that will be the case.

Further, we looked at the structure of daily clubs, which gather hundreds of youth and children for several hours each weekday throughout the summer season. While statistically speaking the participants of these programs may face little risk of contracting COVID-19, it is fairly obvious to us that, in daily mixing with each other and with families around the valley, even a few Clubbies could become significant vectors for spread of the virus in the valley. Try as we might – allowing for close staff supervision, social distancing and other mitigating practices, available facilities, and a reduced enrollment – we simply could not design a quality clubs program that met standards for minimal risk.

Community Activities and Events

Under the current circumstances, we believe that the large-scale gatherings that typify a Montreat summer would provide significant vectors for community spread of COVID-19. To cite one example, close your eyes and imagine a “Friday Night at the Barn.” Even if current government restrictions would allow such an activity, the enclosed space and tight bathrooms, the diverse mix of the crowd, and especially the very nature of a good square dance make this activity potentially dangerous for participants and our community.

Sadly, therefore, we will be unable to host these gatherings that in a normal summer do such a wonderful job of bringing our community together. Traditional events that would convene people in large numbers – like square dances, Summer Club gatherings, The Montreat Cottagers activities – will not be held. Requests for the use of Anderson Auditorium, Upper Anderson, The Barn, and Convocation Hall will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis but will generally not be available for public use.

Fourth of July Parade and Celebrations

For many decades the parade has attracted thousands of residents and visitors to the Town of Montreat each year. Unfortunately, when viewed through the lenses we are using to evaluate programs in the time of COVID, the parade fails just about every test. We have consulted with our friends at the Town of Montreat and they concur that the threat to public safety could be significant. While it is painful to interrupt this decades-long tradition, this year that is what we must do.

Conversations are ongoing about other appropriate ways to celebrate the holiday in Montreat this year.