Campers at Allaso Ranch
Campers worship at Allaso Ranch, a youth summer camp in Texas that had a recent COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo from Philip Jessamine’s Instagram account.)

Campers test positive for COVID-19 after attending evangelical youth camp in Texas

By Kathryn Post

Hundreds of campers may have been exposed to COVID-19 after attending a Christian camp hosted by Fellowship Church, an evangelical megachurch in Grapevine, Texas, led by best-selling author and pastor, Ed Young

The church’s Allaso Ranch retreat center, located near Dallas-Fort Worth, has been welcoming campers of various ages this summer since June 13. And according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, at least three campers who attended Allaso Ranch in the previous two weeks have tested positive for coronavirus, with one child hospitalized.

One woman whose daughter tested positive after attending Allaso Ranch in early July told the newspaper that she’d heard of at least 80 other campers who tested positive for the virus. The mother also reported that more than 200 children attended the camp the week of July 5, and at least 140 came the next week. 

Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas
Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, hosted the camp where youth tested positive for COVID-19.

A mother also told the Telegram that the church started reaching out to parents about possible exposure only after she posted on the church’s Facebook page that her daughter tested positive.

Fellowship Church said it called parents if a camper had symptoms of COVID-19 or was in close contact with someone who did.

An Instagram post from July 13 shows hundreds of maskless campers crowded together singing in Allaso Ranch’s indoor auditorium, worshipping mosh pit style. Other photos depict children close together without masks in an outdoor pool area.

“We all make calculated risks. We still have to live,” said another parent whose child contracted coronavirus at Allaso Ranch. “Everything is a calculated risk whether you go to the store or let your kid play sports. How are we going to defend not letting him go to camp when he’s playing baseball and going to work every day?”

“I’m not blaming the church for having the camp, I’m blaming myself for sending him when I knew better,” she went on to say. “But they need to take some ownership of alerting people in the community.”

According to Texas Monthly, Camp Pine Cove, another Christian camp in Texas, has reported that as of July 6, over 100 individuals, including campers and staff, have contracted coronavirus from attending camp. As a result, four of the camp’s 10 Texas locations have been temporarily closed.  

The camp typically hosts more than 40,000 campers each year.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include a response from Fellowship Church.

Kathryn Post is a writer living in Washington D.C. She is a graduate of Calvin College and an editorial assistant for Sojourners magazine. 

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9 thoughts on “Campers test positive for COVID-19 after attending evangelical youth camp in Texas”

  1. When will Christians grow brains and exhibit wisdom, sound judgement and common sense or am I just being facetious? I actually had a man call me and say he couldn’t attend our prayer and bible study because he was stuck in a traffic jam and that meant God didn’t want him there that night (and he was serious). Then a few weeks later, he calls with the same explanation and says the devil had him stuck in the same traffic jam and wow, the devil sure has a way of getting a person off track. GIVE ME A BREAK. .

    1. Sams, if that person was in my Prayer and Bible Study and I had a relationship with him, I’d pray about taking him to coffee and discussing this. Obviously he has an opportunity to stop blame shifting and over spiritualizing things. God is sovereign, but we are not marionettes, especially not to our enemy. Traffic jams happen. They are one of a million things due to the fall of man. It sounds like they are somewhat predictable in his life, so this is an opportunity for him to be sharpened. This is the uncomfortable part of Christianity, lovingly pointing something like this out, not to wag our finger, but to truly help him. Id’ tell him that I care enough about him that I want to see him at the study, I appreciate his input, want to know what his prayer requests are and then I’d ask him to pray and ask for God’s help in taking steps to do what is necessary to be there.

      1. John M: I don’t dispute your thoughts and thank you for sharing. But my point is this man was not blame sifting or making excuses as to why he couldn’t attend. He actually believed this is what was happening on two separate occasions but with identical circumstances. Does God or Satan control traffic jams? I don’t know and I really don’t think it matters. Anybody can get stuck in a traffic jam, Christian or not. What I’m saying is in my experience, I’ve seen way too many Christians switch off their God given common sense logical type thinking apparatus and make unwise, unsound judgments, statements and decisions. The example I’ve offered is my case in point. Why are you going to send your kids to an event during this very dangerous time of illness and death? And more importantly, why would the church offer the event in the first place?

  2. To me these youth events are all about the church giving its word they will do what they say they will do. If you promise parents the students will be socially distant, you better enforce it. If you promise parents you will make sure students are wearing masks, especially when not distanced, you better have someone going around reminding / asking nicely for students to put them back on.

    But what is happening at these youth camps are 40 students being lumped in to a cabin for sleepovers, no masks, breathing the same air. There are large crowds of students indoors, inches apart, none of them wearing masks. There is evidence of the churches removing photos showing they are breaking these promises to parents. There are parents who are the first ones to tell other families when their child is infected because the churches are not doing it either out of negligence, fear or liability or both.

    I can think of nothing more harmful than a church promising to protect children and then negligently or willfully not doing so and then trying to cover it up all in the name of “faith over fear.” I admire your faith, I detest your lack of love and concern for students, families, co-workers, friends.

    1. A church deceiving the public? Tell me it ain’t so.

      I have too much time on my hands. Honestly, I take the COVID situation seriously and the world is watching. Many people follow this blog.

      As an aside, I appreciate all your hard work Julie.

      Since I am a nobody, I can sort of speak my mind. Remember my suggestion for a Zoom meeting? You should do it.

      If you received a dollar for all the call hang-ups and unanswered calls-you would be a millionaire twice over. L do not know if you are aware, but using the proper pronouns is indicative of the culture war and is coming to a theater near you. It starts on the two left coasts and creeps it’s way to the heartland.

      My company encourages the use of an email tag such as (female,she,hers) . As an explanation to others, this is to self-identify whether or not you are male or female. I think I am the last hold-out. I wanted to put (confused) but I don’t think that would fly. I love my comrades though. I hope I am not called on it.

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