St. Thomas More Center cancels summer camp in virus response

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Summer camp activities at the St. Thomas More Center near Panora have been cancelled in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Catholic Youth Camp Executive Director Alex Kautzky announced Wednesday.


Summer 2020 would have been the inaugural season at the St. Thomas More Center’s new cabin facilities, constructed over the last year after a nearly $3 million capital campaign.

Summer camp activities at the St. Thomas More Center near Panora have been cancelled in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Catholic Youth Camp Executive Director Alex Kautzky announced Wednesday.

“In consultation with the Diocese of Des Moines and medical professionals, it is with a very heavy heart that we’ve made the decision to cancel out summer 2020 season,” Kautzky said in a video posted to the organization’s website. “As we’ve navigated this new normal with our eyes set on the summer, our team has been busy pursuing every avenue and exploring all possibilities that would allow our community to be together in a safe way.”

Kautzky said expectant campers will an email on Friday outlining options for receiving a refund on camp deposits and fees. Campers will also be able to apply the money toward next summer’s camp or donating it toward the center. The Catholic Youth Camp generates 85% of St. Thomas More Center’s operating budget, Kautzky said.

“As an organization, this is a tough one,” she said, “coming on the heels of an extraordinarily successful capital campaign that funded the incredible cabins you see today. We wanted nothing more than to host you for an amazing inaugural summer.”

The capital campaign raised nearly $3 million for construction of eight replacement cabins.

The St. Thomas More Center is a year-round facility that has hosted the Catholic Youth Camp for more than 55 years at the camp on Lake Panorama. During the year, the center serves as a retreat center in the Diocese of Des Moines.

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