Fluvanna County camp changes business model due to COVID-19

Updated: May. 21, 2020 at 5:32 PM EDT
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PALMYRA, Va. (WVIR) - After having to close their gates to campers this summer, staff at Camp Friendship are getting creative to make ends meet.

Skye Ackenbom’s father founded Camp Friendship in Palmyra more than 50 years ago.

"His dream was to establish a camp where people come from all over the world and gather in peace," Camp Friendship Director Skye Ackenbom said.

Since then, the camp has welcomed children and camp counselors every summer from countries around the world. There are about 400 people there when the camp is full.

"Our counselors have almost like a mini union of all these places like a United Nations if you will,” Camp Friendship Director Sarah Ackenbom said.

All the plans for the 2020 season changed when the directors of the camp realized it could not happen because of COVID-19.

“In a time like this obviously, when we need to socially distance, it just didn’t seem like the thing to do this summer when we’re built on connection and people coming together,” Skye Ackenbom said.

In hopes of making the best out of a bad situation, staff and directors at the camp have been working to adjust their business model by renting out cabins for tourists to stay in. The camp hopes to start rentals later this summer.

"We're hoping and considering all the safe options we can do to run as a business, in just a very different way so we're looking to shift over to possibly cabin rentals for the summer," Sarah Ackenbom said.

Even though it will not be a traditional summer, the family hopes that guests still get the chance to enjoy the views and hard work put in by the staff.

“This place just comes to life with everyone that comes here so to think about not having that, that was absolutely devastating. We had to work through that and just get through the heartbreak of that,” Skye Ackenbom said.

The camp is accepting donations through its Friendship Fund to help cover costs, if you are interested in donating click here.

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