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  • 30 Aug 2017 8:23 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Leadership in some key roles in the Tennessee Annual Conference Camping Ministries will be changing soon, and the future looks bright. The Tennessee Conference Board of Camp and Retreat Ministries is pleased to announce that Sarah Ratz will serve as the new Director at Beersheba Springs Assembly starting in September. Rev. Dickie Hinton, who has served over the past 30+ years as a camper, leader, board member, Tennessee Conference Camping Board Chair, Site Director, and as Conference Camping Executive Director, will retire December 31. Russell Casteel, current Director at Cedar Crest Camp, will now also assume the role of Tennessee Conference Camping Executive Director following Dickie’s retirement.

     

    Ratz (pronounced "Rates") comes to Beersheba Springs with over 10 years experience as Director of Judson Collins United Methodist Center in Onsted, Michigan. She also has served as the North Central Jurisdiction representative to the United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries (UMCRM) Association since 2015. Ratz has a positive Christian, team-building style of leadership and a proven record of success in her past professional positions. As the Director of Beersheba Springs Assembly, Ratz will oversee all aspects of the conference center, including hospitality, food service, maintenance, program development and office management. Her leadership will also strengthen partnerships with conference and local church ministries and the local community.

     

    "I'm beyond excited to join the Tennessee Conference and the amazing staff at Beersheba Springs Assembly in ministry," said Ratz. "I believe that God has been preparing me for this role and I'm looking forward to all of the amazing ways that God will continue to move at Beersheba."


    Ratz will work closely with Russell Casteel in his new Executive Director role to further the mission and ministry of Beersheba Springs Assembly and Tennessee Conference Camp and Retreat Ministries. Russell says,

    I could not be more excited to have Sarah with us in Tennessee. She is a camp professional, and I know that leaders and camps around the country appreciate her gifts and graces in camp and retreat ministry. Sarah is a perfect fit at Beersheba Springs to carry the torch that Dickie Hinton helped keep lit for so many seasons. I’m forever grateful for our United Methodist connection and our camping certification program. From Mississippi to Michigan and now to Tennessee we get to share in connectional work together!  If not for that program, I would never have met Dickie OR Sarah; now I have the joy to call them friends in ministry and do the good work of camp and retreat together with trusted colleagues. Thanks be to God for our connection!

     

    A farewell for Sarah in Michigan is being held this Sunday September 3, at Springville UMC from 2-5pm. The church is located at 10341 Springville Hwy, Onsted, MI 49265; (517) 467-4471.

     

    Please help us welcome Sarah to Tennessee in just over a week! Her new email is sarah.ratz@tnumc.org.


  • 09 Aug 2017 10:09 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Six years ago, I began my current role within United Methodist Camping and Retreat Ministries. Four years ago, I became a first-time parent to a creative and hysterically witty little girl. Two years ago, I became a mother of two, when our smart and daringly brave son was born. And in all of that time, I have been trying to find the perfect balance between my responsibilities at work and my responsibilities at home. I have read articles and listened to podcasts. I have watched motivational speakers and tried numerous step by step guides. And I am excited to share with you what I have found.


    First, the bad news - The main strategies for work/life balance that are out there… well, they just don’t always work for camping and retreat leaders! Balancing work and family is hard within any field, but this task is uniquely difficult for us in CRM. It is uniquely difficult to “have a consistent schedule” when a counselor knocks on your door in the middle of the night with a camper who needs to go to the ER. It is uniquely difficult to “separate work life and family life” when you are experiencing a family struggle, with dozens of prayer warriors right at your fingertips. It is uniquely difficult to “use time more wisely” when a really good worship or board meeting is going an hour long because the Holy Spirit is moving folks in life changing ways. And they say to “reserve weekends for the family” well, .. HA!


    However, here are some strategies that I have found or created that are working well for this camping leader’s family:


    Acknowledge guilt, but then release it.

    I took a yoga class in college, and as one who has always struggled to maintain focus, the meditation at the end was always the hardest part for me. Tell me to touch my big toe to my ear and I’m on it! Tell me to lay still and think only about my pinkie-finger for five minutes, forget it. But then the instructor said something that has continued to stick with me in various parts of my life. “If you find your mind start to wander, acknowledge the thought, but then release it.” He was telling me not to get frustrated that I couldn’t maintain focus. He made it clear that it isn’t wrong for my mind to wander; it is natural for our minds to wander. But the most important part of what he said was, “… then release it.” Those few words were incredibly empowering. I realized that I had control over whether I would be consumed by a thought or whether I would allow it to pass and focus once again on what I wanted to focus on. Bringing it back to work-life balance – There are times when I know my work is going to take a back burner to my family and there are times when I know my family isn’t going to see me for days at a time. That is my reality; and with it comes a tremendous amount of guilt. However, just learning to acknowledge that reality and embracing what I can and (most importantly) can’t do, has dramatically lowered my stress level. Society puts so much pressure on both women and men to be perfect in every aspect of our lives. Every project we start should succeed, every dinner should be delicious and served on time, everything your supervisor asks of you should be met with an enthusiastic “yes,” every child should be well behaved and aging parent should be healthy, and it should all be meticulously documented on Facebook. But no one can live up to that expectation. I cannot do everything that is asked of me. You cannot do everything that is asked of you. (Heck, this blog post was submitted a week late for a variety of reasons.) Just knowing that true reality, I can make much better decisions on where and how I spend my time. Although I know that there is guilt that comes along with making those cuts and calculated sacrifices, I also know that this feeling is completely natural. I cannot avoid the guilt, but I can decide if I am going to let that guilt consume me, or if I am just going to acknowledge it and then release it and bring my focus back onto the things that I can do and accomplish.


    Build your network/team

    We talk about team building all the time at camp; and just by being a part of UMCRM, you are intentionally building your network. I hope somewhere on your office desk or on your computer you have a list of volunteers that you can call on in an instant and they will be at your camp getting things done that need to be done. I have learned that building that same type of network around my family is just as important as it is in my work life. But this is another one of those uniquely difficult things to do as a camping and retreat leader. For me, and I know for the majority of you, my career has taken me hours away from our relatives. My spouse and I don’t have the luxury of calling on grandma to come babysit when we both have an evening meeting. So some creativity has been needed to create our team of support. For us, it comes in the form of a flexible daycare center and strong bonds that I have formed with co-workers. Currently, our babysitter is the daughter of our Conference DCM. But most importantly our team relies on the unconditional support that my spouse and I give to one another. He does not get frustrated when I come home an hour later than normal, I will happily leave work early if he has an unexpected meeting pop up, etc. We are each other’s number one supporter.


    Embrace work/life integration

    The last strategy that works for me goes completely against the standard recommendation of creating separate times for work and family. As camping and retreat leaders we work in a unique environment where children and family are embraced, allowing for a healthy work/life integration. My work often comes home with me and often my family can be found at my work. After my parental leave was over, my babies came with me to work for an additional six weeks. My office looked like a nursery, but those who came to meet with me, from the Bishop to donors, were never once bothered. All online or phone meetings that are scheduled in the evenings are done from my home. My children can often be seen poking their little heads into the picture. And although they might not be able to articulate exactly what I do, my children can see their mom working hard to make a difference in the world.


    If you are finding it a challenge to balance your life at home with your life as a camp/retreat leader, know that you are not alone. I encourage you to find relief in acknowledging guilt but then releasing it, get creative in building a family network around you even if it looks different from a traditional family network, and try to embrace a work/life integrated lifestyle instead of resisting it.



    Jessica Gamaché serves at the Conference Camping Coordinator for the Western PA Conference. She is a Northeast Jurisdictional representative on the UMCRM Board of Directors. She enjoys spending time exploring nature ... all her time exploring nature!



  • 02 Aug 2017 7:26 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Chris Schlieckert has been chosen to be the new Director of Retreat and Camping Ministries and the Director of the West River Center for the Baltimore Washington Conference. Chris will assume the position effective September 1. He will succeed Andy Thornton, who has served at West River Center for 31 years.

    Schliekert Family Jefferson RockChris is presently the Director at Manidokan Camp and Retreat Center, also in the Baltimore Washington Conference. He grew up in the United Methodist Church in the Minnesota Annual Conference. His pastor introduced him to camping when he was 10 years old when he joined a church trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota. That would be the first of more than a dozen such trips.

    Chris had his conversion experience while attending Jr. High Camp at Northern Pines United Methodist Assembly Grounds. When it came time to look for a summer job in college his pastor encouraged him to apply to work at camp. He would find out years later that all the summer positions at Northern Pines had already been filled, but his pastor wanted him to work there so much that he funded the summer position out of his discretionary fund. It was during this summer experience Chris felt the call to camping ministry as a profession.

    After college Chris worked for three years at Northern Pines as Assistant Director. In 2007 he applied to become the Director at Manidokan. Andy Thornton reflects, “little did I know that during his interview he would meet the woman he would later marry”! Rev. Sarah Andrews and Chris were married in 2008 on campfire hill at Manidokan. They have two children, Anna, 7, and Mary, 4.

    Chris is a big hockey fan, loves to cook, listens to a wide variety of music but readily admits he cannot play a lick. He loves being outdoors and connecting with God and others through nature.

    Chris is excited and passionate about Retreat and Camping Ministry in the BWC and is looking forward to the opportunities to reach more campers and retreat guests to provide unmatched opportunities for spiritual transformation.


    Special thanks to Andy Thornton for helping Chris grow in leadership, and for helping the UMCRM community learn to know him a bit better. Chris, may God abundantly bless you in your new ministry role!

  • 17 May 2017 8:17 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)



    Sara Richardson and her spouse Sam make up the traveling duo, "Camp To Camp." Learn more about them and their project at www.fromcamptocamp.com. She'll be sharing periodic reflections on their adventures and experiences here on the UMCRM blog. This time the theme is tears, worship, and our freedom in Christ made real in the freedom of camp.

    Some people are criers. They have one outlet – tears. No matter the situation, the moment any feelings bring themselves to the surface, crying is inevitable. I happen to be one of those people, and this trip has not been very good for solving that problem.

    It’s no secret that Sam and I think camp is pretty awesome. There are plenty of reasons we feel that way, but at the top of the list is definitely the freedom people can experience there. There’s nothing quite like watching a kid discover that, at camp, they can be their whole self – weirdness and all. It starts with a couple of silly songs, works its way up to giving the rock wall a try, and eventually you can give them the floor to share their story, judgement-free. Something clicks, and joy blooms on their face as they see that camp isn’t like anywhere else. From that moment, there is freedom, and then we have the extraordinary opportunity to share the truest freedom of all.

    Something happens at camp that allows people to open themselves up, not just to each other, but to the love God has waiting for them. You get to just be. Just laugh. Just listen. Just dance. Just sing.

    Recently, we got the chance to sit in on a camp worship session. We just went to get a little video footage and be on our way. But, standing in the back of the room, I had the perfect vantage point to watch the session unfold. (Here’s where the crying bit comes in.) It wasn’t serious or somber. It wasn’t a huge production. It didn’t have to be any of those things, because in that moment the kids felt safe and free enough to sing, dance, and praise God. The team leaders led motions to help the kids focus. As they started to catch on to the lyrics, they sang louder and louder. I sang along too and got caught up in the lyrics.

    “I won't fear what tomorrow brings/With each morning I'll rise and sing/My God's love will lead me through/You are the peace in my troubled sea”

    At that point, I was welling up. I couldn’t help it. I thought about how many kids fear tomorrow and my heart overflowed to hear them sing words of freedom. And then the bridge (and the waterworks) kicked in…

    “Fire before us, You're the brightest/You will lead us through the storms”

    God has promised and faithfully shown up to guide me through so many storms in my life. He provided a visual image of a pillar of fire to guide us through the desert; we wandered, and he provided a ridiculous sign. So many of the kids/youth/people we serve at camp are desperately seeking a guide through their own storm. Tomorrow brings fear, worry, doubt, loss, and more of the unknown. When we invite them into a safe place, into freedom, and into worship, we give campers the opportunity to throw their hands up and say, “I’m afraid!” so that God can step in and whisper, “It’s okay.”

    Sacramento Assembly outdoor chapelOne of the first things I had to learn in camping ministry is that we don’t get to fix people. It’s not our place to turn people’s lives around or make everything better. That might not even be possible. What we can do is provide a place where it’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to be your whole weird self. It’s okay to give up control, admit defeat, and just sing. Just laugh. Just cry. Excuse my “Christianese,” but I LOVE watching chains fall off in camp worship. If all we can do is invite people to experience the freedom and unconditional love of Jesus, I’m okay with that.

    ​In fact, I’ll probably cry over it.


  • 10 May 2017 6:36 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    I remember coming home from summer camp exhausted and exhilarated all at the same time!  The 5-6 days at camp were an amazing experience that I couldn’t fully describe – fun, full of life, magical, and holy. I also remember the days right after camp, days that were quiet, reflective, lonely, and sad. The transition from camp to home was very hard for me. Maybe that is why I haven’t quite left? The camp feeling of being fully alive, fully accepted, and fully engaged in community was the way life was meant to be lived, in my adolescent mind and heart. This power is still what draws me to the vocation of supporting the retreat life.


    As I experience the great divides in our society and in our communities, I wonder about the role of these places we hold as sacred – camp and retreat centers. Are we to provide places of respite for a short term only, or can we more broadly influence the world even after guests have returned to their day-to-day living?


    The values we hold, teach, foster, and share with our guests are values needed in our common life. As places away, we wait for people to retreat to our ground and experience health in community for their short time away. Our guests go back home renewed for a day or two, maybe a week, but the chaos of around-the-clock connection, news, and social media quickly wraps all corners of existence. The joy of a place where everyone is loved, accepted, and valued is a distant memory.


    The challenge many of our United Methodist camps have in making the camp experience “stick” is the relatively short nature of our camp events. Camps that have been most successful in living camp values are those who are intentional about developing partnerships with local church leaders. Intentionality may include local church volunteers participating in camp, visiting afternoons and activities with church leaders, or immediate follow-up with churches following a camp session. Camp or retreat events are an integral part of the discipleship growth model of local church ministry. We need to claim this important role!        


    As camp and retreat leaders, we have a responsibility to live our values beyond our acres of retreat. We need to challenge our guests to take the values into day-to-day life, to change their world because they have been changed. When campers and guests lose the vision of what it means to live in a place of radical acceptance, may we provide places where they can always come back to reconnect and live in the holy community again.


    You were chosen to be in leadership because you have great gifts to offer at your center. I challenge you to lead more fully into your community. Don’t just be an unknown place of retreat “out there,” but a beacon and a refuge for our broken world to engage in healthy living. Beyond managing the day-to-day operation, claim your role as a leader in this critical time. Share the vision of a place where you can be who God created you to be, a place where everyone is accepted, just because they are alive and present. Invite your community to be your guest. Offer an alternative way of relating to one another than the separate nature our current cultural climate. You have a role in communicating to your community that your ministry center is relevant and ready to host with open arms. Be bold. Claim your voice. Be an alternative. Lead like you believe in the power of what you get to do.


    Blessings in your ministry – thank you for all you do.  I hope it is a great summer!




    Jody Oates serves on the UMCRM Association Board of Directors. He is owner and Principal of Kaleidoscope, Inc., a consultant to camp and retreat centers. Formerly, Jody was a Conference Executive for Camp & Retreat Ministries in the West Ohio and South Carolina Annual Conferences and served churches as UMC clergy. There is always a large jar of M&M's in Jody's office, so he has many friends.


  • 03 May 2017 11:03 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)


    Sometimes it’s the little things that make it easier to be productive. Lately I’ve been using several apps that have helped me to get more accomplished, save things for later, or calm down my stressed-out self. I’ve taken a moment to share some of the apps that are making my life easier. Find the ones that you like best --there is a wide variety of helpful tools available.



    Pages Manager: Facebook

    If you have a Facebook page for your camp and want an easier way to stay connected with it on your phone, then you should download Pages Manager. I use this app to access our main camp page, our friends page, and our conference page. It lets me easily shift between all three pages, make updates, read messages, boost posts, and see notifications. It’s a great way to keep connected on a work phone without going through your personal Facebook account.


    Hours Tracker

    There are days when I know I’ve done a lot in the office but I can’t tell you a single thing that I accomplished. I downloaded this app a week ago to try to get perspective around how I’m spending my work hours and what I’ve accomplished. I like that I can customize my own labels and tags. A few that I have created are: registration software, staff meeting, email/phone calls, feeding the animals, etc.  You can also export the data or go back and add time.


    Head Space

    There are times when you are feeling pressure and you need help to wind down. This is a great app to help you learn about meditation and how to do it. The first 10 sessions are free. When I’ve got 10 minutes and need to refocus, take a break, or before a big phone call/meeting I can start this meditation app to help me clear my mind and focus on what’s next.


    Pinterest

    I will gladly admit that I am a Pinterest junkie! I love scrolling through and saving ideas for later or making boards with images that I love. I’ve found it's a great way for me to save ideas for camp like newsletter topics, fundraising ideas, program ideas, and more. I created a board for staff training where I collect ideas in one place to organize the treasures I find online. When it’s time to plan staff training I can share those ideas easily with my program staff by forwarding them through Pinterest or Facebook Messenger.


    What’s working for you? Take a moment to share a favorite app or trick of the trade in the UMCRM Facebook Group.


    Sarah Ratz is the Director of Judson Collins Center in the UMC's Michigan Area. She also chairs the Member Services Committee of the UMCRM Association Board of Directors. She enjoys travel, crafting, animals of all kinds, and board games, in addition to her contagious passion for outdoor ministry.


  • 29 Mar 2017 10:32 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)


    It is spring and time to rehire/hire your staff for summer.  I know I pray for my staff throughout the year, but in recent years I've added some other strategies to provide spiritual leadership and support pre-season. Sometimes the young adults that serve on my staff are away from home, often involved in work and school on their own, and not always fully engaged in their spiritual life. They come to camp as excellent camp staff, disciples of Jesus Christ, but not always fully prepared spiritually for leadership in faith formation of our campers. Two years ago I started a way to better prepare my staff for their leadership role in guiding campers spiritually for the summer.

    http://www.calnevypm.org/images/headers/overlook.jpg

    Here are a few ideas that have proven successful with my staff:


    • Whatever you ask of your staff, don’t let it be complicated, time consuming, or seem like “homework.”  

    • Virtual reunion of your staff is the best.  Find a social media platform that you and your staff can interact on.  I have a closed Facebook staff group that works, and while FB isn’t as popular with young adults,  my staff is willing to engage for the purpose of this preparedness exercise.  

    • Some years I have used the YA Devotions on the Discipleship Ministries site.  www.umcyoungpeople.org  They are devotions written by young adults, with a question posed at the end. Staff can comment with their responses.

    • I have also used our summer camp curriculum as a preparation guide, using the daily themes and verses and some of the actual questions that they will be leading their small group through at camp.

    • In the beginning I ask some very basic questions like “How is it with your soul?”,  “What does it mean to stay in love with God?”

    • I always leave the option to private message me if they have questions they don’t want to post with the group.  

    • I do follow-up immediately with the group; young adults today are used to instant information.

    • We also incorporate spiritual follow-up during staff training; discussing their thoughts and feelings, questions and concerns about the summer ahead.

    • I  accept a “thumbs up” or “smile” as a response, so even if they’re not engaging online in a deep way, I know they are present. I find most have at least read the devotion post.

    The important thing is that you have a way to check the spiritual temperature of your staff before the summer begins.  A little time and effort in prior preparation is so much easier than dealing with a spiritually struggling staff member after the summer has begun.  



    Kelly Peterson-Cruse has trained many summer staff teams over the years as a former Camp Director/Owner, and in her role as Director of Camping and Young People's Ministries in the Cal-Nevada Conference. Her ministry is fueled by good coffee, the energy of young people, and the love of Jesus.


  • 15 Mar 2017 10:12 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    “Creating the Exceptional”: ACA 2017 National Conference


    The American Camp Association (ACA) offers its National Conference to provide a few days packed with professional development for camp leaders and to build on the magnificent camping community found across the nation and around the world. ACA brings together all types of camp professionals, so in one room you could have day camp and residential camp professionals, religious and nonreligious camp professionals, those from single gender and coed camps, and camp leaders of all ethnicities.


    ACA's “Camp Includes Me” initiative combined with the UMCRM Association's initiative of “Expanding Ethnic Community and Leadership in Camping” to create an impactful presence at ACA’s National Conference this year. First time attendee Shanterra McBride, from Texas, shares that she was...

    "so excited to partner with the “Camp Includes Me” track. Being able to partner in the education and conversation of how camp should and can include all, particularly children of color, was an extremely rewarding and hard experience. Hard, because oftentimes the dialogue around black and brown campers includes the words “financial aid” in the same sentence, but rewarding because of how open the participants were to the conversation."


    South Carolina’s Arthur Spriggs, a long time attendee of ACA’s national conferences, explains that there have been “many attempts over the years in the area of diversity among camping people, but the number of workshops and discussions about being intentional with this work was very present this year and very celebrated.” There was total agreement by all attending that this is an exciting endeavor. We are all looking forward to seeing what God desires to do in our world of camping!


    It was a true pleasure to listen in to what Niambi Jaha-Echols, Dr. Deborah Gilboa, and many others had to say during their keynotes and sessions. Shanterra McBride shared what an amazing experience it was to be in the same room with these women she has followed throughout their careers.  


    While this conference takes our professionals away from the camp setting for a few days, David Rouse explains that “the opportunity to network with other camp leaders and learn about current topics in the camping world makes the time at ACA National Conference worthwhile.” This time spent with others who share the same passion as we do is pertinent to our work. The theme for the 2017 National Conference was “Creating the Exceptional” and this conference strived to do just that. Arthur Spriggs shares his enjoyment of getting to spend time with fellow UM camping professionals. No matter our job title, the type of camp we work for, or the color of our skin, it was so incredible to see everyone come together for a common cause: changing children’s lives through the camp experience.




    Thanks to Paige Railey (SC Conference Camp & Retreat Ministries) for putting together these reflections to share with the UMCRM community!

  • 08 Mar 2017 9:43 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    We are "camp people." Camp people tend to get a little excited. We get excited over grilled cheese Wednesday, silly songs, and rubber chickens, but most of all – we get excited about camp. We get jump-up-and-down, bang-on-the-table excited because people meet Jesus at camp. People find out what love is really like at camp. The most honest forms of confidence, peace, leadership, friendship, and purpose are discovered and built at camp. Disciples are made at camp.

    Sam and I decided it was our job to get other people excited about camp too. The words "summer camp" don't always carry the same authority as "international mission trip," but camping ministry is transforming lives, and we want people to see how diverse and relevant it is. We want churches to take mission trips to their local camps. We want parents to see the matchless opportunity there is for their kids at camp. We want kids to think camp is the coolest thing ever.

    So, the Camp to Camp project was born.

    Beginning in January 2017, we set off to discover and document the big things happening in camping ministry. Following God’s (not so gentle) call, we moved into a renovated 1976 Dutch Craft camper and began traveling the US from camp to camp.  We seek to work alongside the staff, serving in whatever (we mean whatever) capacity, as we learn and experience the culture of each camp. Along the way, we are writing (Sara) and filming (Sam) to show the world, through our eyes and the stories of others, that camp is a transformational force.

    We have many hopes for this project, and our goals are constantly evolving as we experience more. On the inside, we hope to serve as vessels, being filled with the knowledge, creativity, and passion of others to be able to share with and develop the camping community. On the outside, we hope to get people talking about camp. There is an earnest hunger in our culture for more of “the good stuff,” and we believe that camping ministry has so much to offer. We intend to be the people shouting from the mountaintops about all the things God is doing through camp. And personally, we have only known one camp (Wesley Woods, PA). We grew up there, worked there, lived there, got married there – it is truly our home. But we want to know what else is out there and we thought the best way to learn would be to go.

    In the first two months, this project has already grown our love for camp – something we didn’t think was possible. The people we have encountered are humble servants of the Lord and have shown us so much love and encouragement. We are learning more than we know how to process, but trying to share some of the cool ideas along the way through social media. Right now, we are trying to start a bigger conversation. How do we make camp “normal’? How can we be integrated into society and be something everyone is talking about? We don’t know yet, but as we build this project and our audience, we hope to find more ways to make camping ministry something everyone is excited about. 

    If you’d like to come along with us on this adventure, you can visit our website at fromcamptocamp.com. There you’ll find our blog, links to our social media profiles and YouTube channel, and our contact information. We’d love to hear from you!



    Sam represents the Northeastern Jurisdiction on the UMCRM Association Board of Directors. After meeting them at the National Gathering in Texas, we've already been blessed by Sara, as well. Thanks for bringing us all along on the Camp To Camp adventure!

  • 22 Feb 2017 5:40 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Dear Friends,


    I want to take a moment to thank you for awarding not only myself, but the staff of the Michigan Area United Methodist Camping ministries along with two members of our Board of Directors, scholarships to the recent UMCRM National Camp Leaders Conference. Words cannot express the thanks I have in my heart for the gift you have given our new ministry, but I will try to put a few words on paper to explain.


    Over the past two years we have actively been working to combine all the Conference camping ministries of Michigan into a new corporation, which will stand on its own on behalf of the United Methodists of Michigan. On January 1, 2017 we made that step, and stand now as nine (9) camp, campground and retreat centers witnessing for Christ in Michigan. Part of my vision for this ministry was to have all of our camp Manager/Directors and some of our Board of Directors join together for a time of learning, networking, and group building. I really wanted everyone to experience the National Conference, but had no idea how I could finance so many people going to the same event. We had no readily available funds. I began to search for options and found that Legacy of Leadership scholarships were available. We all applied!


    I was then thrilled to hear Legacy of Leadership scholarships were granted, and we were able to attend. We began to develop our plan of action for gaining the most from the conference. Once on site at Lakeview Camp we sat together and planned who would attend which seminar, to make sure we did not double up and would gain the most knowledge possible. Each person attended sessions and took notes, so that once home again in Michigan we could teach the others on our team what we had learned.  We began this process with our first staff meeting on February 16th.  We will continue to do this until we have each had the opportunity to teach our team members from the jewels we have gleaned during the conference.


    While at the conference, we met each day over a meal to review some of what we had learned that day.  During these times, I saw how our team members began to get to know each other better and explore ways to put what was learned into practice. Brainstorming and idea-sharing helped to bring us together and grow the excitement.  Add to that the excellent teaching by both Bob Ditter and Rev. Jenna Morrison, the inspiring worship, and the feeling of being with others who share our passion, all brought a sense of refreshment and rejuvenation.


    All of this… these “shots of encouragement and inspiration” took place in a safe, loving environment, helping us to take a breath, relax, have some much needed fun, and still learn and bond. For this I am so thankful!  Your gifts to us have been a blessing we will see for months if not years to come.



    Blessings and thanks,

    George


    Rev. George H. Ayoub
    Interim Executive Director of Michigan Area Conference Camping Ministries



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