Like many businesses and ministries in Williamson County, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the nonprofit ministry of Deer Run Camps & Retreats hard. Their leadership faced the difficult decision in mid-June of canceling all day and overnight summer camps due to an outbreak of COVID among the camp staff which meant a loss of revenue so significant that year-round staff were reduced by nearly 50 percent. In addition, many retreat groups who were booked from March to October canceled resulting in additional loss of revenue.

Founder and CEO, David Gibson shares, “Our hearts are broken over experiencing the unraveling of the diligence and effort that grew the Deer Run ministry over the last 24 years — leaving us without opportunities to impact thousands of kids and youth during summer camps nor the ability to come alongside the thousands of retreat guests who come to Deer Run each year from churches, schools, and community groups. We also were unable to pour into 75 college students who were not able to serve as camp counselors this summer.”

Although the loss of over two-thirds of the annual operating budget this year has been devastating, the leadership and staff at Deer Run are moving ahead in faith and hopeful for providing weeklong camps next summer. However, to bridge this temporary shortfall and keep Deer Run operations from coming to a halt, financial gifts are desperately needed to make it through the fall and winter months so they can retain staff, continue to operate, and to plan, recruit, and prepare for next summer’s camps.

David also states, “Summer camp is our largest ministry impact. The missed opportunity for this summer was over 3,000 campers. We want to be able to fulfill our mission to provide camp for children and youth next summer. Yet, without financial assistance through individual tax-deductible gifts, we will need to cut additional staff and will have a difficult time continuing our ministry through the winter. We are asking for your support to keep this ministry going by helping raise $1.5 million by October 15. This amount will allow us to sustain operations until next summer.”

Go here to give a tax-deductible donation to Deer Run’s GoFundMe campaign: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/deer-run.

Additionally, Chick-fil-A Berry Farms and Chick-fil-A South Franklin on Columbia Avenue are coming alongside Deer Run by providing a Spirit Week, September 7-12. Mention Deer Run when you stop by for breakfast, lunch, or dinner during the entire week, and the nonprofit ministry receives 20% of the proceeds. “Chick-fil-A normally offers a one-night Spirit Night, so to provide an entire week is an incredible blessing,” Gibson says. Kyle Saylor, general manager of the Berry Farms location, says this: “Our store has been so grateful and appreciative of the way our community has supported us, and we saw this as a way to give back to the community. We fully support and appreciate the mission of Deer Run and their emphasis on Christ centered relationships. It truly brings us JOY to come alongside them in such a tangible way.”

Deer Run is open for families for Day Passes and Overnight Staycations as well as birthday parties, family reunions, work from here, remote school or homeschooling, and retreats for churches, schools, and nonprofits. Find out more about Deer Run by visiting https://deerrun.camp/ or emailing them at Contact@DeerRun.camp.