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  • 30 Aug 2023 6:18 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    If we were doing a Family Feud version of the summer camper survey, the number one answer to, “How do campers feel about their week of camp?” is: “It was FUN!” When asking parents what they look for in a summer camp for their children, “Fun” ranks second right behind Safety. 

    So, what is fun? One definition is that fun is “a perception of pleasure and happiness brought on by achieving one's desires from an activity.” I think it is more than that.


    Of course we want children to have fun at camp, but there’s so much more to it than just making sure everyone plays games and goes swimming.

    In her recent book, The Power of Fun, Catherine Price writes that “True Fun” is the “feeling of being fully present and engaged, free from self-criticism and judgment. It is the thrill of losing ourselves in what we’re doing and not caring about the outcome. It is laughter. It is playful rebellion. It is euphoric connection. It is the bliss that comes from letting go. When we are truly having fun, we are not lonely. We are not anxious or stressed. We are not consumed by self-doubt or existential malaise. There is a reason that our moments of True Fun stand out in our memories: True Fun makes us feel alive.”


    I can’t think of a better definition of camp. Fun is camp. Camp is fun! And fun, as Price describes it, is a powerful antidote for the challenges of today’s world. At camp we provide opportunities for letting go, being real, doing the silly (like “messy night”, belly flops in the pool or dumb jokes in the cabin) and sharing these things together —  multiplying the fun and its effect.


    In his book about fun, behavioral psychologist Mike Rucker writes: “Fun isn’t ‘extra,’ it’s an act of radical self-care. Fun is less ‘think ' and more ‘do.’ It’s demonstrable, observable, real and immediately within our grasp. Are you drawn to, finding pleasure in and engaged with an activity? That’s fun.”

    The word “fun” doesn’t appear in the Bible but the word “joy” shows up 269 times. One of the fruits of the Spirit we learned this summer was JOY. Jesus said, “I have said these things to you so that my JOY may be in you and that your JOY may be complete.” (John 15:11) Whether it be summer camp, family camp, or a retreat time with friends, fun is definitely on the agenda. Let’s go have some fun so that our JOY may be complete!

    Rev. David Berkey is Executive Director of Michigan Area United Methodist Camping. He is an active member and longtime supporter of the UMCRM Association, former ACA and UMCRM Board member, and a lifelong advocate for Camp and Retreat Ministries. Besides camp, David finds joy in rooting for Ohio and Clemson.

  • 23 Aug 2023 4:51 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Once the summer camp season ends, we’re all ready for some rest and a much-needed vacation. (And we hope you did both!) Also, good “wrap-up” procedures and preventive maintenance will save a lot of time and aggravation, making you or your successor staff happy and grateful next spring. Check out the checklists and then read on for advice from UMCRM colleagues about their summer wrap-up process.

    General site maintenance and housekeeping:

    • Close and lock windows and close curtains.

    • Empty and clean all trash cans.

    • Store outdoor furniture, picnic tables, benches, and hammocks. Note items that need to be repainted, repaired, or replaced for next season.
    • Transition summer staff housing to its non-summer use.
    • Check crevices of furniture to ensure that there are no food particles or lost-n-found items.

    • Restock first aid kits or make a list for next year.

    • Unplug computers, air conditioners, microwaves, and major appliances that will not be used.

    • Clean ovens, stoves, toasters, grills, and microwaves to eliminate food, crumbs, or grease deposits.

    • Clean out grease traps.

    • Remove batteries from electronics such as clocks, radios, etc.

    • Seal up cracks & crevices that are ¼” or larger to keep unwanted critters out.

    • Discard opened food that will not be used. Donate unused, unopened food that will expire before you can use it. 

    • Clean and sanitize fridge, freezer, and pantry shelves, drawers, etc. Unplug and prop open units that will not be used.

    • Clean and winterize lawnmower and other gas-powered yard equipment.

    • Clean out gutters and inspect roofs for shingles that are raised or cracked.

    • Store and secure waterfront equipment and docks. Note replacement needs like rescue tubes, paddles, lifejackets, etc.

    Program wrap-up:

    • Clean up and put away program areas that aren't used the rest of the year (archery, climbing, health center, pool & waterfront, arts & crafts, etc.) Store cleaning supplies, chemicals, art supplies, etc. to ensure that they will not freeze and will be safe from critters.

    • Organize the office.

    • Debrief with summer staff, collect evaluations, conduct exit/stay interviews.

    • Create communications plan for summer staff (remembering birthdays, winter reunion, retreat hosting opportunities, etc.)

    • Create communications plan for camper families (evaluations, next year’s registration info, newsletters and holiday greetings, faith formation resources, donor appeals, etc)

    A few UMCRM colleagues offered their own additions and advice.

    from Jeff Wilson, Assistant Director, Camp Lake Stephens, Mississippi:

    The biggest thing for us is getting any thing that could be chewed by squirrels or mice (high ropes gear, life jackets, foam balls, camping gear, pool noodles, etc) into containers (inventoried and organized) and inside a building. Most of that stuff lives in sheds with screen ventilation during the summer. They wind up being easy targets for overwintering mice / squirrels. We used to lose a lot of gear each year, until we started making space inside for it. 

    This year I am trialing some new NFC tags called "Organize-it!" that let you keep all the info about what's in a box on an app. You can scan the tag and see what's in the box without opening it. TBD if they are awesome or not. 

    During organization and inventory I also ask my staff to write notes inside the box on what we need for next year. That way we aren't replacing stuff using the previous years budget, AND I don't forget about it by the time April rolls around. 

    from Julie Lautt, Director, Wanake Camp & Retreat Center, East Ohio: 

    I have begun keeping a Google Doc list of items that we are going to need to purchase or replace for the next year. This way I have a good shopping list and can capitalize on sales throughout the year.


    One practice I have found to be invaluable is to take a "tour" of the summer program areas after summer camp is over and keep notes about what I see or don't see that needs attention or needs to be retained for the coming summer program season.

    from Dan Kirby, Assistant Director, Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center, Eastern PA: 


    • STUFF: ropes, safety gear, inflatables, fun signage, prop things, game leftovers, and summer-only program spaces. Put things away into a mouse-tight shed or building (Check: is it dry, is it maintained, is it in a good container, is it worth keeping?)
    • Did you spend $1500 on a foam machine and foam packets? Think through odd things like this that should not be left where they might freeze (foam machines may hold water, as would many of these types of devices).
    • Don’t assume that the stuff all got put back. Every year I find a harness in the outskirts of our high ropes course because a kid thought it didn’t need to be put back with the others and staff missed it during clean up.
    • Extension Cords, Hoses, Tools, and other maintenance-y things. Our program staff are focused on fun, and if we aren’t intentional we might forget the importance of returning tools borrowed from the maintenance barn, or tidying up hoses.
    • Safe Storage – as you store things, be intentional not to block utilities such as hot water heaters, furnaces/ac units where filters will need to be installed, water shut off, etc. Ask your maintenance staff to come with you and tape off the areas that they would like to keep open. Bring coffee.
    • Don’t depend on yourself in May. Remember what May was like? It was just 3 months ago and also a year’s worth of life has passed. “May You” is not asking for more things to fix, repair, or maintain. Take care of the bike with the busted tire now, repair the bow that needs new limbs if you can afford to. Write a list for “January You” if the budget demands it.


    • Pools: Is it on someone’s radar to pull out the pool pump motors and winterize the pool shed before a freeze? This would be a costly miss.
    • Outpost sites. Water lines or utilities that need to be drained out before winter? Platforms that ought to be covered or blown off regularly to help the wood last?
    • Tents and Shelters – what gets taken down before winter hits? If you have mattresses on beds that won’t be used until next summer, turn them up on their side to prevent a cozy warm spot for pest nests.
    • Picnic tables – turn em up on their sides and they shed snow way faster so your wood will last longer.
    • Fire sites – before winter hits, dump out water buckets to keep them from popping in the freeze.
    • Did anyone call to have the porta johns picked up yet? What other summer services do you need to cancel today to avoid extra fees? 

    What's on YOUR checklist? If you have additional checklist items to add, please share in the comments! 

  • 16 Aug 2023 4:54 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Summer camp has come to an end. For some of us, this is a HUGE relief. The long, hard days and sleepless, short nights are behind us…at least for another year. For others, it’s the end of the fun season, where children’s laughter is no longer and theme days with costumes are a cherished memory. But, for all of us in this ministry, it is a change of season and a chance to practice some needed self-care. Unfortunately, for so many of us in outdoor ministry, self-care is something we put aside and often just ignore. But it is so important, especially once summer has come to an end. I am by no means an expert in this area, but after over 20 years in this ministry, I did adopt some practices that became crucial for my physical, mental, and spiritual health.

    1. SLEEP! I know, I know, this one seems so obvious. It’s probably also unavoidable, as our bodies are just worn out. But, I just want to give you permission to do it for as long as you need to. Maybe you are fine with just a normal 7-8 hours the day after camp. But, if you need to just stay in your bed or spend a day or days on your couch, allow yourself to do it and don’t apologize for it.
    2. Feel the blues. I called the first few days after camp my “Blue Days” because I found myself feeling down and often uncomfortable. Walking around a quiet camp, with no one around can be very unsettling. I learned to give myself permission to give in to my feelings whatever they may be. Some years, the dark days were none or few and some they were many. But, whatever my body and mind needed, I learned to give it.
    3. Offer prayers of gratitude. Some summers end on a high, but some do not. Making a physical list of the things that I am grateful for always helps me to see that there are so many blessings in our lives each day that go unrecognized.
    4. Leave Camp. Your world has likely centered in one place for the season, so it's time to get off camp for a while and experience the outside world again. Plan a vacation, a staycation, a day in the city, or some other complete change of scene. Fill your senses with sights, sounds, and tastes that are different from what you experience at camp. This can reset your perspective and help with your re-entry process.
    5. Reconnect. Our family and friends often go neglected in the summer. If we have an understanding support system, those close to us usually give us a lot of grace during the summer months for being out of touch. Now is the time to make efforts to reconnect, not only for ourselves but for those in our lives who truly miss us during the camp season. Visit family. Go out to dinner with your best friends. Take your dog on a fun adventure. Make some phone calls or just resume Snap Streaks with those you have been apart from.
    6. Debrief the summer. In the early days after camp ends, try taking a long walk while creating a voice memo on your phone. Ramble on about the summer to capture your first thoughts. Later, use those notes to draft an end-of-summer report to record reflections and to set goals for the following year. We always think we will NEVER FORGET certain incidents, but we do, especially as time goes on. Record your thoughts while it is fresh and raw.

    What are some practices that you use for self-care and renewal at the end of camp? If you can’t think of any, maybe these or others will give you some help that you didn’t even know you needed. Summer 2023 is in the books. Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.

    Allyson Ashmore is the new Retreat Director at Beersheba Springs Assembly (TN).  She has served in outdoor ministry for over 22 years; recently retired from Camp Hopewell (MS).  She chairs the Compass Points Council and serves on the faculty for Personnel & Leadership course. Allyson resides in Spencer, TN where she and her husband, Darren, along with her sister and brother-in-law spend much time exploring waterfalls in the area.

  • 02 Aug 2023 5:42 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    In this world of “give and take,” it seems that the overarching focus is most often on what we can get… from goals to results, mission to outcomes and expectations of impact. I would say that the same might be true regarding our membership with the United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries Association (UMCRM.) “Sure, we want to be a part of something bigger. But, what’s in it for me?”

    Well, I am here to give you a first-hand account of my experience with the give and take of being a member of this fine Association. My story begins in my own Annual Conference. For as many years as anyone can remember, the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church (NC Conference) has supported what is now the NC UM Camp & Retreat Ministries, Inc. (NCUMCRM), the organization I serve as Executive Director. Heck, the NC Conference birthed our three camps 75 years ago! Over time, the Conference chose to spin off the camps and other extension ministries to establish separate nonprofit entities, yet still be “related by faith.” Through that process, the Conference continued its support of camp and retreat ministries through apportionment giving for many, many years – until the reality of disaffiliations became apparent, bringing about financial anxiety and the need for substantial budget cuts.

    We are fortunate in that the NC Conference operates on a budgeting schedule that is two years in advance of the actual budget year. Thus, the Conference recently developed the 2025 budget which was scheduled to be presented at the Annual Conference in June 2023. To our dismay, we learned that NCUMCRM was eliminated from that budget. As the news broke, I sprang into action, reaching out to committee chairs,  cabinet members, the Council on Finance and Administration, and even the Bishop. I also reached out to the Board of Institutions, which is a liaison to the NC UM Conference for the extension ministries. I wrote letters, essays, emails and used as many means of messaging as I knew to request our reinstatement into the 2025 budget. I was also invited to speak at the Annual Conference. What did I share? Results. Outcomes. Impact.

    Admittedly, much of my communications were rather anecdotal relative to the impact and value of the three camps of the NCUMCRM. You know, those stories of the transformational experiences that occur at camp. In addition, because of the research that UMCRM promoted and cultivated in partnership with Sacred Playgrounds, [View 2022 Camper Survey Results] I was able to cite objective findings regarding the positive effects of the camp experience. And, let me tell you, those statistics made a difference. When I presented at Annual Conference, I knitted those findings into my short, but informative talk. [View 5 UMCRM Research Facts infographicEach time I mentioned a statistic from the Sacred Playgrounds research, applause broke out from the 1000+ attendees. “81% of campers said they were strengthened in their faith at camp.” The crowd roared! “87% of campers made friends who were different from them and their friends at home.” The laity and clergy cheered! “85% of campers learned more about God during their camp experience.” The enthusiasm was palpable.

    Later that day, when the 2025 budget was presented, an amendment from the floor was quickly made to reinstate the NCUMCRM into the budget. After the proper protocols were followed, it was evident from the hands and paddles that were raised in support of restoring this ministry back into the budget that the overwhelming majority of the NC Conference wanted to continue to support our camp and retreat ministries in North Carolina.

    Of course, I cried. The emotion from the moment and support was overwhelming and deeply encouraging. Camp does matter. Camp has value. And people know it from their own experiences, from those anecdotal stories of transformation, and from real and trusted data from effective and relevant research. So, what do we “get” from our alliance with and membership in the UMCRM Association? A LOT! In our case, the investment in research, collegial support, and tools for communicating outcomes helped our organization inspire our Conference’s investment in the future of camp & retreat ministries. 

    Dail Ballard is the Executive Director of North Carolina United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries, Inc. Three camps -- Chestnut Ridge, Don Lee and Rockfish operate under one nonprofit umbrella. Dail also currently serves as Chair of the United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries (UMCRM) Association Board of Directors. Dail loves being outdoors, especially by water –  her happiest place being on the beach or a boat on the NC coast.

  • 12 Jul 2023 6:59 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    If your camp has been dealing with extreme heat recently, you’re not alone. Camp Lake Stephens in Mississippi has had more than its fair share of extra-hot camp days this season, and Assistant Director Jeff Wilson shares insights about how he and the staff are managing and some things they’ve learned along the way.

    Shade & Moving Water

    • Not all water activities are built equally. A lake or pool under full sun can be as dangerous as an athletic field under full sun. Sitting in warm or unmoving water makes your body have to work even harder to cool down. If you have a creek or river or a way to have a water activity with shade or moving water, choose that option. Save full sun water activities for early morning.

    • Shade and moving air and/or water are the key to cooling down.

    • If you can safely do so and you have access to pools, try a night swim.

    Hydration & Overhydration

    • Focusing on good hydration should start before the extreme heat advisory or warning.

    • Provide cold water sources at every activity inside and outside.

    • Buy extra water bottles for those who may not have them. Amazon has bulk water bottles fairly cheap.

    • Learn about the warning signs and treatment for hyponatremia. This condition is often caused when someone over-hydrates because they are trying not to become dehydrated.

    Heat-related Illness

    • Learn warning signs of heat exhaustion and stroke. Both can happen VERY quickly. Learn signs and treatment procedures for both and practice with your staff!

    • Make connections with a pediatrician; they can help you understand heat related risks for campers.

    Weather Planning

    • Generally, extreme heat situations are reliably forecasted well in advance, compared to rain or storms. So make your plans early. We usually know 7-ish days in advance to start prepping for extreme heat.

    • Make connections with your local weather station or National Weather Service office. They can help you understand and prepare for weather patterns you are unfamiliar with, such as “heat domes.”

    • Humidity is a relative number. 70% humidity in 50°F weather is a vastly different condition than 70% in 90° F weather. Find a heat index chart for your area. Humidity is a multiplier. The higher the humidity, the harder it is for your body to cool down.

    Activities & Scheduling

    • Be flexible with upending your schedules. Health is more important than tradition.

    • Schedule rest times or cabin clean-up competitions during the hottest part of day.

    • Stay indoors as much as possible from 11:30 am - 4:30 / 5:00 pm.

    • Create an indoor bonfire experience, play indoor team games, indoor talent show (with cabin groups instead of individuals), play real life versions of board games like Clue, Battleship, Guess Who, or whatever your favorite is. 

    • Move team building from low ropes to indoors. Use more initiative type games instead of obstacle based challenges (e.g., baking challenges with teams, trivia).

    • What ever you do, DON’T SHOW A MOVIE. No other indoor activity will be engaging after a movie is shown. 

    • With any of your indoor activities, try to create props or decorations so it feels like a genuine camp activity and not just a last minute audible. Be creative! All of our maintenance sheds / barns have tons of reusable materials that can be created into cool decorations.

    • If your indoor air conditioned space is limited, consider activities in useable spaces that can involve all camper ages without causing too much competitive strife from older campers. 

    • Make a plan for accommodating campers who are sensitive to loud sounds and large crowds. Provide a quiet room or space they can utilize during heat.

    Food and Water

    • Giving SOME sugary / salty drinks or snacks can actually be beneficial during heat events. It can help replace sugars or electrolytes lost to sweating and high metabolism.

    • Consider adjusting meals to less heavy or greasy foods. Try more cool salads and fruit with high water content.

    Cool, Relocate, or Cancel?

    • If you have no air conditioning, at a certain point you should consider renting portable air-conditioning or moving campers off-site to a place that can accommodate your needs with A/C.

    • When lows overnight are at 80°f or higher with high humidity, it’s time to start canceling or modifying campouts or any non-air-conditioned sleeping. Temperatures that high at night can cause campers to be even further behind the curve on hydration and rest before a hot day’s worth of activity.

    • If you have acceptable activities at your site but they are a considerable distance away from camper’s current locations, consider shuttles.

    • Misting machines and football type evaporative cooling fans could be useful in certain situations.

    Caregiver Communications

    • Keep parents and caregivers aware of changes.

    • Younger campers are often affected by heat more quickly because of their size. Younger campers are also the group who might not realize they are getting overheated until it’s too late.

    • Check campers’ health risks and notify guardians if you are concerned for their camper’s health before the week occurs. Give them your action plans for mitigating excessive heat exposure. See if they are comfortable with risks.

    Care For Staff

    • Remember it’s not just counselors and campers who are dealing with the heat. Consider the needs of support staff such as kitchen workers and grounds maintenance workers.

    • Adapt schedules for mowing and other outdoor work projects.

    • Encourage lightweight, loose clothing for those working outdoors. 

    • Be sure lifeguards have shade.

    • Schedule more breaks and hydration reminders.

    • Provide access to air conditioning for all employees on breaks.

    Jeff Wilson is the Assistant Director at Camp Lake Stephens (MS). He holds a degree in Biology and Earth System Sciences from the University of Alabama - Huntsville. His love for camp began after his freshman year in college when he joined the CLS summer staff as a counselor. Four summer seasons later, Jeff made the commitment to go into camping ministry full time. In addition to spending time with spouse Emily and their son Jude, he enjoys spending his free time hiking and photographing wildflowers. Jeff is a student in the Compass Points Certificate Program and volunteers on the UMCRM National Gathering Design Team.

  • 21 Jun 2023 6:07 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    We have just a few more of the 2022 Ministry Impact Grant projects to highlight and celebrate. Last year, eighty-six United Methodist camp/retreat ministry projects from around the United States received a total of nearly $2.5 million in grants from a private foundation. This week, we lift up five more completed 2022 projects that reflect long-term vision for these vital ministries. Soon we will shift our focus to the newly-funded 2023 Ministry Impact Grant projects, many of which are already underway. Thanks be to God for bringing together generous, visionary givers with mission-focused Camp and Retreat ministry leaders to lay the foundation for future sustainability and impact.

    View the full 2022 Ministry Impact Grant Report

    tabernacle window KoronisTabernacle - Camp Koronis, MN

    The long-held vision of the Meeting and Dining Tabernacle is now a reality, thanks in part to the Ministry Impact Grant. The beautiful, state-of-the-art facility replaced the kitchen that was destroyed in a 2019 fire and includes a year-round 300-person gathering space that more than replaced the function of the old seasonal Tabernacle. The gorgeous new program space has attracted increased guest bookings and will be an asset to Koronis’ ministry for decades to come.

    pavilion at Glen LakePavilion - Glen Lake Camp, TX

    The new Pavilion sits atop a hundred-foot cliff on the Paluxy River. Normally, groups will cross the river and hike up to the cross on top of the hill, looking out over the river, the camp, and the town of Glen Rose. It is usually about a 20 minute hike up and 20 minute hike down. The lack of shade and restroom facilities on the hilltop was sometimes an issue! The new Pavilion opens up new program possibilities and provides a more hospitable experience for guests and campers. Ministry leaders are excited to envision new ways to include hilltop experiences in group programming.

    Dining Hall HVAC System - Camp Innabah, PA

    The dining hall is the central hub of activity at Innabah, but the old HVAC system was no longer keeping campers and guests comfortable in all 4 seasons. It was time for an upgrade and the addition of air conditioning. The new system provides energy efficiency and a large indoor space to cool off in the summertime.

    maintenance shop at Little Grassy

    Maintenance Building - Little Grassy Camp, IL

    Grant funding enabled completion of the main structure of a new shop building. The new tractor and other equipment have a solid, safe new home, and shelving and storage areas will keep tools organized. This multipurpose storage and work space will allow equipment to be kept in great condition which saves time, labor, and costs in the long run and minimizes risk to staff, campers, and guests. 

    Playground - Lake Poinsett Camp, SD

    Director Christy Heflin has dreamed of a playground at the camp for 8 years, but other maintenance issues always kept it from being realized. The grant provided dedicated funding to construct a full playground area, complete with mulch and landscaping. Located in the center of camp, this new equipment will bring opportunities for safe, joyful play to thousands of children each year.

    playground at Lake Poinsett

  • 14 Jun 2023 10:18 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    What is Juneteenth? Check out this comprehensive resource from the UMC General Commission on Religion and Race:


    It is important to celebrate all of God’s creation, and Juneteenth is a unique way to celebrate. It is paramount that camps are finding ways to encourage, equip, and empower Black and brown voices. This can be done in a multitude of ways through camping and retreat ministries.

    A few suggestions to implement at camp:

    • invite BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) to lead in worship
    • attend a predominantly black church with your staff and/or campers
    • create space for staff and campers of color to authentically share any harm that may have been done based on the color of their skin 

    While our country has come a long way since 1865, there is still much work to be done. Our ancestors traveled through many places to get to the promised land, including some water. I invite us to take a moment to reflect on the water of our baptism that brings us to freedom:

    “On behalf of the whole Church, I ask you:

    Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness,

    reject the evil powers of this world,

    and repent of your sin?

    I do.

    Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you

    to resist evil, injustice, and oppression

    in whatever forms they present themselves?

    I do.”

    Many of us United Methodists have heard and made these vows. The water of baptism has divinely connected each of us. It is through these waters that we find celebration in the freedom that God gave all creation. As the old Negro spiritual teaches us to “wade in the water,” we must be willing to come together so that all may embrace the freedom that God’s loving grace has gifted us. 

    To all my BIPOC siblings, embrace these words from Marianne Willamson:

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 

    Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

    It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

    We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’

    Actually, who are you not to be?

    You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

    Go serve the world unapologetically, just as you are. Happy Juneteenth!


    • The United Methodist Hymnal: Book of United Methodist Worship. (1989). Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House
    • Gainer. Folk Songs From The West Virginia Hills. (2017). West Virginia University Press. pp. 216-217, "Wade in the Water" 
    • Williamson, M. (1996). A Return To Love. HarperCollins

    Josh Shaw serves on the UMCRM Board of Directors. He is the Executive Assistant/Event & Community Outreach Coordinator at Cachengo, Inc., and he stays in ministry by regularly leading a Junior High camp at Lakeshore Camp (TN) and serving on the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Annual Conference Youth Leadership Team. He is an Enneagram 2 and a Ravenclaw. He finds joy with his pup, Queen, nieces and nephews, and expressing creativity through choreography.

  • 31 May 2023 11:14 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    We have just a few more of the 2022 Ministry Impact Grant projects to highlight and celebrate. Last year, eighty-six United Methodist camp/retreat ministry projects from around the United States received a total of nearly $2.5 million in grants from a private foundation. This week, we lift up five more completed 2022 projects that reflect long-term vision for these vital ministries. Soon we will shift the focus to the newly-funded 2023 Ministry Impact Grant projects, many of which are already underway. Thanks be to God for bringing together generous, visionary givers with mission-focused Camp and Retreat ministry leaders to lay the foundation for future sustainability and impact.

    View the full 2022 Ministry Impact Grant Report

    Tanako To Go - Camp Tanako, AR

    Tanako trunk or treat 2022Grant funding enabled Camp Tanako to expand its outreach outside of the residential camp property to minister with people right where they are at. With the purchase of a vehicle and supplies, staff traveled to churches to host one-day Bible schools and visit with children's ministries and Wesley Foundations, building new connections in the wider community and reaching churches that do not have a camp home. Taking camp on the road enabled new program opportunities and a way to help meet more of God’s children of all ages with the magic of Christian camping.

    Catapulting Camp Wesley Pines into the Future - Wesley Pines, MS

    Wesley Pines site plan coverWesley Pines was blessed to contract with Kaleidoscope Consulting to define the next steps of ministry growth through a comprehensive Assessment and Strategic Ministry Plan. In combination with its capital campaign and physical plant blueprint, this final step in the camp’s revitalization strategy joyfully catapults Wesley Pines into a future in which it will continue its deep history of serving children and families through Christian camping experiences.

    Camp Wesley Woods Lagoon Restoration - Wesley Woods, TN

    Wesley Woods TN lagoonGrant funding afforded Wesley Woods the opportunity to restore

    a critical natural resource and program area. The lagoon is the landmark signifying that campers have finally arrived at camp. Bringing the lagoon back to health meant campers could enjoy paddling and fishing again. The improvements provided care for the watershed while significantly improving the aesthetics and first impressions of camp. The project required heavy equipment including an excavator, skid steer and dump truck. Approximately 400 cubic yards of silt were removed, including two islands formed at the inlet over 20 years and accumulated material along the edges and outlet. Gravel was brought into to repair the road and grass was seeded to complete the project. This opportunity opened up future planning with the local Soil and Water Conservation District on a larger scale watershed restoration project.

    Worship Fest - Carson Simpson Farm Christian Camp, PA

    Carson Simpson Worship Fest flyerCarson Simpson Farm expanded upon its PEACE (Partners Equipping All Children For Eternity) program which ministers with children from Philadelphia through summer camp. Extending the reach of the gospel message, experience of Spirit-led worship, and strengthened community connections into the fall, the camp hosted its inaugural Worship Fest. The event fostered the camp's partnership with three local church teams and with Ripe Creatives Ministry which brought two artists, three singer songwriters, spoken word poets, a painter, and worship team. Additionally, eight different ministries set up information booths. Over 600 people were enabled to join this worshipful and creative experience free of charge. This grant-funded opportunity bore short-term fruit in renewed faith among staff and participants, new relationships in the community, and glory to God in this day of praise and worship. Check out the recap video  Worship Fest 2022 also sparked longer-term vision and goals for future event planning, fund development, and further expanding the camp’s ministry reach.

    Construction of Cabin 13/14 - Epworth By The Sea, South Georgia

    Epworth cabin 13Grant funding supported the completion of the final building in the multimillion dollar Aldersgate Youth Village renovation project. Cabin 13/14 had foundation issues that required its demolition and re-siting. Improvements included enlargement of cabins, vinyl wood flooring, central HVAC, handicap accessibility, tankless gas water heaters and expansion of bathroom areas. These facilities enhance the ministry to children and youth that serves more than 1000 campers each season and fosters hundreds of new and renewed commitments to Christ every year.

  • 17 May 2023 9:05 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    This week we feature 5 more projects funded by the 2022 Ministry Impact Grants. Last year, eighty-six United Methodist camp/retreat ministry projects from around the United States received a total of nearly $2.5 million in grants from a private foundation. The impacts will continue to ripple out as those ministries steward the gifts for future sustainability.


    View the full 2022 Ministry Impact Grant Report


    UMCRM continues to celebrate the vision, hope, and expanded ministry reach represented in these project reports. We still have more to share in the coming weeks as we reflect on all that was accomplished over the past year.

    Building Toward a Fiscally Sustainable Future - Wisconsin Annual Conference Camp & Retreat Ministries

    The staff and board worked with The Fund Coach, Mark Duncan, to develop skills in relational fundraising. They learned to systematically identify donors, deepen the relationships, and help donor prospects understand the value of giving to the mission of camp. This learning experience will impact future fundraising efforts and board recruitment. 

    campfire at Dickenson

    Strategic Planning with Run River - Camp Dickenson (VA)

    The camp engaged Run River Enterprises to conduct a full site and master plan, replacing an old plan from 2005 that no longer fit its vision and legal requirements. The process began with an in-person board retreat weekend that delved into the history of the site and built understanding of the width and breadth of five decades of ministry. Smaller group discussions clarified visions for our programming, site, and overall business plan for the coming decade. The camp board now has a three-year plan including hiring a consulting hydrologist, executing a timber sale, implementing a depreciation recovery schedule, and consulting architects for facility drawings. This groundwork will enable a capital campaign launch in the 4th quarter of 2025. Camp leadership is now able to focus on what’s possible for a thriving future.

    CITC mobile STEAM labMobile STEAM Lab - Camp in the Community (Holston Conference)

    The implementation of the Mobile STEAM Lab created an immense amount of joy, learning, and friendships for Camp in the Community. Campers, staff, and volunteers loved it, and for many, it was their favorite part of camp! In just the first season, the lab allowed 1,005 children in 24 communities to have hands-on experience in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. They got to work with a 3-D printer, microscope, lego wall, circuit boards, chain reaction machines, magnet wall, robotic arm, and so much more. Many campers expressed interest in becoming an engineer, scientist, or inventor when they grow up. 

    Magruder tiny house siteTiny House Village Infrastructure - Camp Magruder (OR)

    Housing is one of the great inequities in Camp Magruder’s community. The ministry desires to support employees and volunteers with comfortable housing, a better value than any other compensation they might offer, in order to support and retain talented, long-term leaders. The grant enabled installation of the electrical infrastructure necessary to construct a tiny house village on site. This foundation enables the camp to begin raising money to build the tiny homes and further inspires the vision of a sustainable, holistic, connected staff community.

    Fishing Pond Project - Canyon Camp (OK)

    The Canyon Camp Fishing Pond Project has provided new recreational options for campers, family retreats, and children/youth with special needs. The UMCRM grant provided an ADA compatible concrete landing, sidewalk, and railing for the fishing pond, along with a solar pond aerator, paddleboat, sit-upon kayak, and lifejackets. The conditions of the ground in the canyon allowed for a pond of 1⁄4 acre by 8 feet deep. This new program infrastructure will be a blessing to future generations of campers and guests.

  • 10 May 2023 3:34 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    In honor of International Coaching Week, Jen Burch reflects on implementing coach training, the practice of coaching, and resources for ministry and life.

    Last fall, I embarked on a week of Coach Approach Skills Training with a group of twenty UMCRM peers, a grant-funded opportunity offered by Holmes Coaching Group and hosted by Glisson Camp & Retreat Center in North Georgia. I want to share three ideas or principles from coaching that have stuck with me and found their way into my life and work. 

    One principle featured in our training was approaching each client as “creative, resourceful, and whole.” This orientation toward others (and ourselves) is a stance of positivity, trust, and faith. It provides the foundation on which the process, action, and results of coaching can build. It’s a helpful corrective in a world too often characterized by cynicism, mistrust, low self-esteem, and scarcity mentality. Believing that people and groups are creative, resourceful, and whole can help a coach empower clients to be their best selves and achieve their goals. My faith understanding also aligns with this approach in that I believe God wants us to live fully into who we were created to be, and that we co-create that self with God over a lifetime through deep listening and courageous action. The coaching relationship, insofar as it empowers clients to live in this way, can be a spirit-filled process. As I practice seeing myself and others as creative, resourceful, and whole, I find this approach softening my natural inner critic and providing a more optimistic view of what is possible. That is making me a more effective coach, of course, and I think it’s also making me a better person in all the roles and relationships of my life. I commend this to you! Remember, you and everyone you meet are creative, resourceful, and whole. This reminder that you are enough is one of the gifts that participating in a coaching relationship can provide. 

    Another foundational coaching skill is listening content-free. By that I mean that one listens without thinking of what to say next, without judgment, with an open mind. Even those of us who have a pretty good grasp of basic interpersonal communication may find this challenging. When someone else is speaking, our minds are often looking for ways to relate to what they are saying, finding points of sympathy or agreement, thinking of how our own ideas and experiences are similar or different. Especially when they are talking about something that we have an opinion or expertise about, or that triggers our memory or emotions, it can take a lot of self-control simply to be present and listen. Coaching training has reminded me to practice the art of listening without bringing my own content into it. Bringing intention to this skill is calling my attention to how difficult and non-intuitive it is! However, in the moments when I succeed at being fully present and truly listening, I recognize it as a blessing to the other person, and deeply beneficial to my understanding of them. I think of the admonition in James 1:19 to be “quick to listen, slow to speak.” I encourage us all to practice truly listening, and to seek out friends, family members, colleagues, and perhaps a coach who is able to provide that space to you.

    wheel of life graphicThe third idea I want to introduce is a “wheel of life” tool which can help a coach and client to identify which parts of life are going well and which need some attention. As I remind myself that I am a whole person, I have found it useful to visualize the dimensions of my life as parts of the circle. In an ideal world (not the one we actually live in!), each of the parts is strong and balanced. In the real world, the different dimensions are in constant flux, some naturally stronger or weaker due to temperament or circumstances or the varying seasons of life. Taking a moment to assess how I’m doing in each of the dimensions is a great reminder of my wholeness as a person, and it gives me some perspective and power to decide what and how I would like to change and grow. I encourage you, reader, to spend some time with the wheel of life and see what it reveals to you. While it seems obvious that we might work on the aspects of our life that are lacking, also consider ways to build off of the dimensions are strong, leveraging those areas to help boost those you want to improve. A coach can help you in this process. 

    If these principles spark something in you and you would like to pursue a coaching relationship with me or another trained coach, please reach out. You can also access coaching, mentoring, and other supportive resources in the UMCRM Hive. Creating a safe and encouraging space for people to think, feel, try things, be heard, be vulnerable, dream, decide, and commit is a special gift. Within the UMCRM community we have a compassionate group of peers willing to provide that space. 

    Jen Burch serves as the Director of Communications and Community Engagement for the United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries (UMCRM) Association. She is a former Camp Director and holds a Masters of Divinity from the Iliff School of Theology. She lives in Colorado, is an INFJ, and offers her coaching skills to members of the UMCRM community as she logs hours for her International Coaching Federation credential.

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