Summer 2020

It is with deep sadness that we tell you that Camp DeSoto will not open for the summer of 2020.

Camp is about connection and bringing people together. This summer, we simply do not feel that coming together is safe. While that is heartbreaking to say, we also feel that this is the best decision to protect Campers, Staff, the Mentone community, and the broader communities to which we all belong.

We expect you may have some questions about what that means. We have tried to provide answers to most of those questions here.

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How will I receive my camper’s tuition refund? Is there anything I need to do?

We will refund the full amount you have paid toward your camper’s tuition for summer 2020. If you paid by credit card, we will simply refund your card(s). If you paid by check, you can expect to receive a refund check in the mail. We will begin processing refund payments on May 5th. There is nothing else you need to do.

What if I want to apply the tuition payments I have already made towards enrollment in 2021?

If you would like to apply any portion of your payments to next summer, please send this request in an email to by May 5th. We will begin processing refunds on May 5th, and if we have not heard from you, we will simply refund your payments.

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What about registration for next summer?

Registration for next summer will begin on September 1st. Anyone who was enrolled in Summer 2020 will be guaranteed enrollment in 2021! You will still need to complete a camper application online and submit your deposit payment between September 1st and September 20th.

If you roll your tuition payments over, you will not need to submit a deposit payment in September. However, you will need to submit a camper application.

On September 21st, waitlisted campers from 2020 will be invited to sign up for 2021. Open registration will begin on October 1st.

What about Last Year Seniors?

We are truly heartbroken for these campers, and we know that everyone at Camp is going to miss them! We are working on a plan especially for Last Year Seniors. Nothing will be able to replace their Last Year Senior summer at DeSoto, but we are certainly going to create a special experience that will allow them to gather with camp friends and wrap up their DeSoto memories with a final goodbye.

What about my 4-year ring?

Girls, we know that many of you were looking forward to receiving your 4-year ring, 5-year jacket, or 8-year bag. Don’t worry! We have thought about you. If you return to Camp in 2021 or any other year, you will receive credit for that year, as well as 2020. So if you were supposed to get a ring at Final Banquet this summer and you come back to Camp next summer, you’ll get both a 4-year ring and a 5-year jacket! If 2020 was supposed to be your first summer at Camp DeSoto, and you keep coming back every year after this, you’ll get your 4-year ring in summer 2023. Of course, if you are a last year senior, you will still be given your summer gift for 2020.

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Have you thought about having shorter sessions in July?

We spent lots of time considering the possibility of having Camp later in the summer, even if we could not open up in June. We wanted to make any adjustment we could to make it possible for girls to come to DeSoto this summer!

Even if we had Camp later in the summer, we would still need to implement significant protocols to protect campers and staff. These would include things like testing every camper before she comes in the gates and not allowing parents to drop girls off in Camp (we would need to have drop-off stations), implementing new health center protocols to detect symptons (such as daily temperature checks for every camper), developing ways to isolate anyone who is symptomatic and tracing all of their contacts in Camp, and more.

Everything we considered ultimately led us to the same truth: we cannot give the best of Camp DeSoto to girls this summer without introducing heightened anxiety, increasing the strain on college and adult staff alike, and disrupting the peaceful and safe atmosphere that allows children and their parents to fully trust Camp. Even if we take extreme measures, those still could not guarantee a virus-free Camp community.

What about some sort of virtual camp experience?

We have thought long and hard about this. While we certainly want to stay connected, we also think this is an opportunity for each of us to practice some of the things Camp teaches us, rather than try to recreate camp virtually. Some of the best gifts of Camp are connecting face-to-face with the people in our space, being present right where we are, and not spending time on screens. We think there is great value to be found in living those things out this summer, no matter where you are.

You will still hear from Camp sometimes on the blog, social media, and even in the mail! We definitely want to stay connected with you and help you stay connected to Camp. We also want to let this summer be one in which we all settle in deeply to the places, communities, and rhythms wherever God has placed us.

I wanna go back, I wanna go back to Camp DeSoto! I wanna go back to the Camp I love.

We feel it is important to name that this is not an ending but a holy pause. Camp is not canceled, because Camp is bigger than what happens on Lookout Mountain during the summer months! We may not open the camp season this year, but what remains between all of us is community and love, and we trust deep in our bones that God can and does work with that.

Girls, we are going to miss you so much this summer. We want you to know that while we have been thinking through each piece of this decision, we have had your faces, your friendships, and your hearts at the forefront of our minds. We are so sad that you will not be coming through the gates of Camp in June or July to move into a cabin with your friends for a month at your home-away-from home. We know this is hard. And we also trust that God is at work in this season.

“I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” - John 10:10