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Church youth camps put on hold due to coronavirus pandemic

Church youth camps put on hold due to coronavirus pandemic

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Church camps and youth conferences for young men and young women have been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Thursday.

The church said all recreational properties in the United States and Canada will be closed until further notice and all summer treks have been canceled for 2020.

In addition, the church announced the 2020 Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra, New York — slated to be the pageant’s final year — will be postponed until 2021. The 2020 Nauvoo Pageants have also been postponed to 2021.

"As directed by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, all public gatherings of church members are suspended worldwide until further notice," a letter to church leaders said. "This includes Aaronic Priesthood quorum camp, Young Women camp, and other overnight youth conferences."

The camps have long been a staple of Latter-day youths' summers and the church is encouraging local congregations to find ways to create shared experiences by connecting through technology while the closures are in place.

Once restrictions are lifted, outings can be organized again.

“When the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles approve gathering, local priesthood and Young Women leaders may organize youth conference activities at church meetinghouses,” the letter said. “If overnight youth camps and conferences are desired, church-owned facilities, where available, should be used before considering non-church properties”

The church's operations have been heavily interrupted by the pandemic. The church has suspended its worship services, temporarily closed its temples, and had previously postponed For the Strength of Youth Conferences to 2021.

In October 2018, the church confirmed the 2020 Hill Cumorah Pageant would be the final year for the long-running festival. The pageant, which began in 1937, takes place where Latter-day Saints believe the Angel Moroni gave Joseph Smith engraved plates that he translated into the Book of Mormon.

The church opted to end such pageants — the popular Manti Mormon Miracle Pageant ended its run last summer — as part of the church’s focus on more in-home gospel learning.

“We had a wonderful run,” Neil Pitts, president of the Hill Cumorah Pageant, said in 2018. “Our church has asked us to focus more on the family, and this is certainly in line with that desire. We have had a wonderful 81 years and will focus on making the next two years an amazing experience for our cast, crew and audience.”

The final season of the Hill Cumorah Pageant will be performed will now be performed July 8–10, 13–17, 2021. The Nauvoo Pageant will be held July 6–31, 2021, and will continue in future years.

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