The Latest News
- Trends in North Carolina are continuing to improve. You can always see the latest data for North Carolina here.
- With improving trends, some restrictions in North Carolina eased on May 1. The outdoor mask mandate has been lifted. The indoor mask mandate remains in place. The 50% occupancy cap on meeting spaces and conference centers remains. Current restrictions in North Carolina are here.
- Vaccine eligibility in North Carolina is open to everyone 16 and over (only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for 16- and 17-year-olds).
- In late April, the CDC released updated guidance about cleaning and disinfecting, given that the risk of infection from touching a surface is low. Daily cleaning is recommended; this is a relaxation of earlier requirements.
- Also in late April, the CDC released updated guidance for youth and summer camps. This guidance suggests maintaining physical distancing of three feet between youth who are in the same cohort or small group. This will allow our Youth Conference Small Groups to use a combination of indoor and outdoor spaces for Bible study and discussion. We will encourage small groups to be outside whenever appropriate, and indoors whenever necessary. We will continue planning for Youth Conference Small Groups to be sized at 15 instead of the usual 30 participants.
- As we adapt our Youth Conference plans to the welcome changes in Auditorium capacity, we are still relying on encouraging vaccination, maximizing outdoor experiences and limiting each person’s close contacts as strategies for mitigating disease this summer. Learn more under “Program Adaptations” below.
- We will consider Back Home Groups as family units who are living together in a household.
Guidelines for Back Home Groups
Every group is different: in size, in housing, in ratio of adults to youth. Yet every group will need some plans for how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the group and a checklist for what to do if someone develops symptoms.
Before You Arrive
- See how many of your participants can be vaccinated before you travel! Nationwide, all residents age 16 and up are eligible to be vaccinated. Vaccinated people who are exposed to COVID-19 do not have to isolate for 10 days following exposure, so having vaccinated adults and youth in your group is great for public health and great for maintaining the functioning of your group if someone in the group comes down with symptoms!
- Montreat will provide you with a pre-arrival symptom checker to be followed by EACH PERSON who will be traveling with the group. This checker covers the 14 days prior to arrival. This form will be turned in for each individual at registration.
- Ask any unvaccinated participants in your group to stay home as much as possible during the 14 days prior to departure, get tested 5 days prior to departure, or both. Knowing that you've done one or both of these best practices will give you peace of mind as you load into the van for the trip to Montreat.
- Think about how to engage and educate your youth about the 3 days prior to departure—this is the time when we want to be sure people are limiting their contacts to household members to the greatest extent possible. This is the BEST WAY to prevent exposure, spread, and potential isolations during your week at Montreat! We're working on some resources to help you engage your youth in the days leading up to departure so they will be reminded of the importance of sticking close to home in those important days.
While You Are In Montreat
These requirements are laid out in North Carolina’s guidelines for overnight camps:
Back Home Leaders will be responsible for conducting a daily symptom screening of participants using this screening tool Montreat provides. Bring your own thermometer!
Back Home Leaders will be responsible for immediately isolating a sick participant from others in the group and arranging a COVID test. COVID-19 testing is readily available in Black Mountain.
If a participant has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is presumed positive by a medical professional due to symptoms, the participant should be isolated until they meet the CDC criteria for release from isolation:
- No fever for at least 24 hours since recovery (without the use of fever-reducing medicine) AND
- Other symptoms have improved (e.g., coughing, shortness of breath) AND
- At least 10 days have passed since the individual first had symptoms.
Obviously, the length of time required to achieve these criteria is longer than the conference itself. Back Home Leaders should have a plan for having parents come to pick up a participant who needs to be isolated or, if that's not possible, keeping that participant isolated from the rest of the group for the remainder of the trip.
Montreat will work with our local health department to identify close contacts of confirmed cases. Close contacts are defined by the CDC as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic clients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
Depending on your housing situation, there's a possibility that each unvaccinated person in your group would have to isolate if you have one positive case in your group, because each person would be a close contact of the infected person.
This is why we are working so hard to limit the number of close contacts each participant will have at the conference. We want everyone to be able to particulate fully all week!
If you are staying in conference center housing and do not have a room in which to isolate a participant within your own block of rooms, we will have some rooms set aside for that purpose.
Program Adaptations at Youth Conference
Many of our format changes are designed to reduce the number of close contacts any participant makes during the conference.
- Recreation is decentralized and experienced in your small group (we'll call these times Connecting Groups to distinguish them from Small Group times).
- In Keynote and Worship, Back Home Groups will sit together and distanced from other groups.
- Indoor interactions will be limited.
- Small Groups will be formed to limit interaction with new people, will be completely outdoors, or both.
Recent changes to North Carolina capacity restrictions have increased the number of people allowed in Anderson Auditorium to 700, which will simplify the youth conference schedule by allowing us to worship together in weeks with less than 700 registered participants. We will still be distancing groups from each other inside the Auditorium. As usual, Back Home Leaders will have the opportunity to tell us which section of the Auditorium they'd like to sit in.
This change will allow us to resume offering keynote-only wristband purchases for adult members of Back Home Groups who are not attending Small Group. Participants with this wristband will be able to attend worship as well.
We will continue to monitor registrations and capacities as we determine whether and how to open worship to the public. We will treat Back Home Groups as family units. Of course, we'll encourage family units/Back Home Groups to enjoy the outdoors as a group—hiking, rock hopping, and relaxing outdoors are activities this schedule will allow for and encourage.
Indoor gatherings with people outside your family unit/Back Home Groups may be eliminated with the exception of Small Group and Connecting Group times. Small Groups will contain just 15 people. The Huckleberry is not open this summer and will be used as a program space.
Sunday night will probably be the most different part of the week's schedule. We're working on how to make sure Back Home Leaders and Small Group Leaders get the information they need and conferees get a great introduction to the week's theme.
We are also working on how to coordinate a candlelight service around Lake Susan on Friday night to close our week and send us out into the world.
Reminder: There are three ways to participate in the Montreat Youth Conferences this summer:
Join us on-site and have conferees participate in Small Groups, Connecting Groups, and evening events as well as keynote and worship.
DIY youth conference on-site but with your group doing Small Groups and Connecting Groups on their own under your church's leadership. These groups will join the rest of the conference for keynote and worship (see more info about this option below).
Montreat@Home for those groups who can't be on-site this summer: you can still experience the conference leadership, Small Group and recreational activities where you are.
DIY Small Group Option
Some Back Home Leaders might be interested in keeping their group apart from standard small groups, where conferees are placed with youth from other churches. You can choose to keep your Back Home group together for the Small Group and recreation times with the Back Home Leader serving as the Small Group Leader. Here are some things you may want to know as you contemplate this idea:
Yes, you're taking on some additional work! You might want to bring along an extra adult if you are able. We will refund the conference fee of the adult who is acting as the Small Group Leader for your group.
We will support you by inviting you to Small Group Leader training (all on Zoom and prior to arrival) and providing you with the same Small Group Bible study and recreation manuals in use by the rest of the conference.
We'll provide you with a bag of the appropriate supplies.
You would be responsible for your group as usual. We understand that you might not follow the schedule of the day with military precision, and you may decide by Thursday afternoon that your group really needs a hike instead of a game from the manual, but we ask that you not release your participants for free time on campus while other conferees are participating in conference activities.
We need you to let us know if you choose this option (by April 1 for weeks 1 - 2, and by May 2 for weeks 3 - 6), and we need to count on you to remain in this category of participation once you've chosen it. Email email@example.com if this is the option you want to select.
Shepherds - New Role For Adults In Small Group
We always rely on having a few adults in every Small Group. This year these adults will play the important role of Shepherds, walking with their group from the regular Small Group location to the daily Connecting Group location (or vice versa, depending on the schedule). Connecting Group locations may change day to day, so we'll make sure Shepherds know where they're headed.
2021 Only - For 2020 Seniors
Last year's high school seniors missed participating in their final Youth Conference as high school students. To make up for this, we are offering a small group for the HS Class of 2020. The Small Group Leader for this will have skills to help explore the conference theme and at the same time help participants share the affects of the pandemic on their lives.
As a part of final registrations with MyMontreat, Back Home Leaders will find a 2020 Small Group designation to register last year's seniors for this one time experience. (Or they may register for Work Crew instead.)
Montreat@Home for 2021
Last summer we offered an at-home curriculum year and have found that as recently as last week, some Back Home Leaders and other leaders of youth are still using this great resource.
This year's version is all new and will be even better. For those who can't get to Montreat for whatever reason, you can still do Montreat@Home! Here's what you will get:
- The Small Group Leaders' Manual – 9 sessions – 60 min each
- The Recreation Leaders' Manual – NEW! – 9 sessions – 60 min each; PLUS at least 3 special Back Home events for evenings
- 5 Keynote Presentations – energizer, music, speaker – less than 60 min
- 5 Worship services – presentations – less than 60 min
Each of these pieces can be used separately or together – in a special Covid-safe retreat, over the summer, for fall curriculum, or as a part of Youth Sunday. Youth Groups wanting to recreate the Montreat experience can follow the "traditional" Montreat formula for a day:
- Small Group
- Back Home gathering
- OR – any mix of this.
Registration is open now with pricing according to church size:
Changes to Small Group Leader Training
NEW TRAINING INFO FOR SUMMER 2021
These new training times are (all times listed are eastern standard time) and will be open to on site SGLs, Back Home Leaders who are choosing to be the SGL for their own group, and leaders of Montreat@Home who want a training opportunity:
|Youth Conference 1 & 2||Thursday, June 3 @ 6:30 pm by Zoom
Saturday, June 5 @ 10:00 am by Zoom
The Sunday my conference begins at 4:00 pm in person
|Youth Conference 3 & 4||Thursday, July 8 @ 6:30 pm by Zoom
Saturday, July 10 @ 10:00 am by Zoom
The Sunday my conference begins at 4:00 pm in person
|Youth Conference 5 & 6||Thursday, July 22 @ 6:30 pm by Zoom
Saturday, July 24 @ 10:00 am by Zoom
The Sunday my conference begins at 4:00 pm in person
Small Group Leaders should plan to arrive in Montreat on Sunday, ready to meet at 4:00 pm.