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SBC DIGEST: Ridgecrest offers family getaways; N.C. ministry offers calls to isolated seniors

Ridgecrest Conference Center to host family getaways this summer
By Aaron Wilson

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP) — Families who have grown restless during nationwide shelter-at-home orders will have an opportunity to stretch their legs this summer by registering for a Family Getaway at Ridgecrest Conference Center and Summer Camps.

The Family Getaway experience replaces traditional Ridgecrest summer camp programming for individual campers. The all-inclusive Family Getaway experience will include activities such as horseback rides, a high-challenge course, mountain biking, canoeing, crafts and more.

“Once it became clear our traditional summer camp experience would not be possible [due to COVID-19 guidelines], our goal has been to provide an experience that allows as many families to be here as possible,” said Ron Springs, director of Ridgecrest Summer Camps.

While hosting families, Ridgecrest will follow all North Carolina and Buncombe County COVID-19 guidelines including social distancing. There will be multiple cleanings of common areas each day along with regular cleaning of equipment used during camp activities. Additionally, Ridgecrest will observe a 24-hour waiting period after a family leaves a cabin or hotel room before it’s cleaned and ready to use by the next family.

Families can get more details and register at RidgecrestConferenceCenter.com for Family Getaway reservations beginning on June 17 and extending through August 2. There is a three-night minimum, but families can choose to stay for any additional number of days. Families who book for six nights will get the seventh night free.

“Not having our traditional program was a hard decision,” said Sharon Aylestock, director of Camp Crestridge. “But the Family Getaway is a great alternative and still allows us to continue building relationships with our campers and their whole family. We have been encouraged by the response and how thankful families are to still have the opportunity to come to camp.”


North Carolina Hope Line offers outbound calls

CARY, N.C. (BP) — When North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) began its Hope Line service in the summer of 2019 to address social isolation and loneliness among older adults, no one imagined the societal changes that would occur nine months later. Over the course of just a few days in March 2020, calls to the Hope Line increased exponentially. To meet the demand, the ministry opened the service on weekends and added two lines.

Now open daily, 9 a.m.-9 p.m., the Hope Line (866-578-4673) continues to receive more than 100 calls each week from older adults — many of whom have been living in isolation for years. Other callers are new to the experience because of self-isolation measures or stay-at-home orders, and many of them are also experiencing feelings of fear and uncertainty. NCBAM team members and volunteers trained in evidence-based health coach techniques focus on listening and allowing callers to have a safe space to express themselves.

Knowing that many individuals most in need of a friendly call service may not initiate a call, the Hope Line now offers outbound calls. The service is free and can be requested by calling 877-506-2226 or by emailing [email protected]. A link will be sent to sign up for the “friendly call” service. Call recipients must be 65 or older and live in North Carolina. Requests can be made by individuals themselves or by a family member or caregiver.

Whitney Brooks, Board Certified Integrative Health Coach through Duke Integrative Medicine developed and teaches the training provided to all Hope Line communicators. When the pandemic brought unprecedented challenges, Brooks responded with extra guidance.

“Many of the incoming Hope Line calls are heavy conversations,” Brooks sais, “and when a volunteer has three of these in a row, that can be pretty stressful. We’ve updated the training to incorporate self-care strategies so that volunteers can learn how to maintain and nourish their own emotional health while helping others.”

NCBAM has also implemented a monthly support group meeting for Hope Line volunteers.

NCBAM director Sandy C. Gregory, who began the Hope Line because of the adverse health risks associated with social isolation and loneliness, is more concerned than ever.

“More than one million North Carolinians 65-plus are currently experiencing an increased level of isolation — and for an indeterminate length of time,” Gregory said. “NCBAM wants to help as many as possible by making the Hope Line available for both inbound and outbound calls.”

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