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  • 13 Oct 2021 8:55 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Tanner reflects: 


    When I first began going to camp as a caregiver for my older brother, who has special needs, I thought it was going to be the worst experience in the world. I couldn’t have been more wrong. By the time I was a freshman in college, I had discerned a significant call to ministry; specifically, to camping and retreat ministry. Coming from the Dakotas Conference, l have been an active camper, volunteer, and summer and seasonal staff at Wesley Acres Camp for the past 12 years, collectively. My staff roles have transitioned from support and hospitality, to maintenance and project coordinator, to counselor and program intern. For the past four years, I have supervised a group home for children with special needs, but have always been looking forward to when God would bring me back to ministry in camp. I intend to continue the strong ministry that is present at Lake Lucerne and provide a safe environment to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world! 


    Please pray for Tanner in this new, exciting role in ministry. Look for Tanner at the upcoming UMCRM National Gathering to welcome him in person!



  • 13 Oct 2021 8:28 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Connecting faith with nature has long been a part of the Wesleyan tradition. The possibility of preaching outside first came as a revelation to John Wesley in 1731:

    “In the evening I reached Bristol, and met Mr. Whitefield there. I could scarce reconcile myself at first to this strange way of preaching in the fields, of which he set me an example on Sunday; having been all my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order, that I should have thought the saving of souls almost a sin, if it had not been done in a church."     –John Wesley journal entry

    Have you noticed that the vast majority of faith-based camp and retreat centers are located within or adjacent to natural surroundings?  Even where civilization has encroached, center staff and volunteers plant gardens and landscaping to assure that nature remains. Our commitment to nature isn’t just utilitarian. The historic predecessors to modern-day camp and retreat ministries intentionally sought opportunities to spend time outdoors, including the Camp Meetings, Chautauqua, Scouting, and Epworth League movements.  


    What value does an outdoor setting bring to a person’s discipleship journey? 

    • Society has “othered” nature. Nature is perceived by many that it is something different from “us.” God’s Creation, of course, encompasses people and the rest of the natural world. 

    • When people are asked, “Where have you felt closest to God?”, many name places like a lakeshore, forest, ocean, or scenic mountaintop. Camp & retreat ministries steward places like this and help create opportunities for powerful encounters with the Creator and Creation. 

    • People can see their place in the natural world when they are interacting with their environments. 

    • We don’t grow closer to God by only reading books. We grow closer to God by interacting with God (natural world along with the people in it).

    • Earth is not just a “setting” that we wait in until we get to Heaven. Earth is part of us and we are part of it. 


    Camp provides people the opportunity to learn more about the natural world:

    1 Kings 4: 29-34    God gave Solomon very great wisdom, discernment, and breadth of understanding as vast as the sand on the seashore, ...his fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. He composed three thousand proverbs, and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He would speak of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows in the wall; he would speak of animals, and birds, and reptiles, and fish. People came from all the nations to hear the wisdom of Solomon; they came from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom.


    We not only learn scientifically from observing nature, we also learn spiritual truths, since all life has its origins in the Source of Life. 


    The United Methodist Social Principles are a prayerful and thoughtful effort on the part of the General Conference to speak to the human issues in the contemporary world from a sound biblical and theological foundation. From our Book of Discipline:


    THE NATURAL WORLD

    All creation is the Lord's, and we are responsible for the ways we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God's creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of creation.”


    How do we teach respect and care for Creation to our campers and guests?

    • Leaders can allow nature to be the teacher. Let the trees speak. 

    • Environmental education programming

      • It is easy to incorporate faith and environmental education during the summer

    • There is something innately spiritual about gathering around a tree and discussing the natural world.

    • If we listen to the stories of native people we know they had a profound connection to nature. God will reveal God’s self in stories beyond traditional Christian faith lessons.

    • We can teach without speaking. Actions speak loudly.

    • Interpret to your campers, families, and supporters why you are doing what you are doing

      • Create displays about the fair trade coffee you are using and how they can use it at home

      • Talk about how and why your site recycles or composts

      • Invite guests to partner in saving water and electricity and connect it not only to the budget but also to Creation care values


    How do we show respect and care for Creation through camp and retreat ministries?

    • Simple

      • Recycling and Composting

      • Vendor choices – what kind of coffee, tea, paper products, etc., you purchase

      • Use both sides of printer paper

      • Combine trips when going into town 

      • Use intentional language (during communion use “Come and receive” opposed to “Come and take.”)

      • Talk to campers about portion sizes, electric use, and use of disposables. Teach gratitude 

    • Bold 

      • Create a camp garden to use homegrown vegetables in the dining hall.

      • Talk to community organizations about installing solar energy generation

      • Set goals for net-zero emissions. 

        • Install solar or wind turbines

        • Carbon offsets (could we partner with church & community to plant trees on our grounds?)

      • Build LEED-certified buildings for new construction and renovations



    Resources:



  • 06 Oct 2021 9:46 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    400 weekly issues?! Time flies when you’re having fun. 


    How did we get here? 


    The United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries (UMCRM) Association (re-)formed in 2013 with an expanded vision for how we could collectively “resource, advocate, inspire, and network” to promote the effectiveness and sustainability of camps and retreats in our denomination. It had already been clear to us for generations that the lifeblood of our ministries is its leaders. What did camp/retreat leaders need to grow and thrive? At a time when the internet had astronomically expanded access to information, we saw a need to synthesize and curate content specifically for the UMCRM community. No one has time to sort through every article, blog post, training event, webinar, podcast, book, social media post, etc. on topics from youth development to nonprofit governance, outdoor recreation, facilities management, family ministry, spirituality, creation care, human resources, fund development, United Methodist perspectives and news, and on and on…! 


    Smooshing together the ingredients to make something delicious


    Could we provide a regular “digest” of relevant news and information for our camp/retreat leaders? The Association had hired a very-part-time Administrator to help coordinate some of the great ideas generated by the volunteer board; this e-news would become a key part of that job. The volunteer Communications team wondered if there would be enough content to put together an issue each week. “We’ll try it,” we said. Eight years later, we still amazingly have never run out of material to share! A team of UMCRM member volunteers reads through each issue and helps to strategize about the issues and topics most relevant to our community in different seasons of the ministry year. One of the features we started early on, the Blessings Report, has become a beloved must-read for those who skip to the bottom for a smile, nod, and prayer of gratitude each week. We have built community as we learned to know new “Faces of UMCRM” and celebrated births, retirements, and new jobs. We have joined colleagues in ministry to delve into tough issues from COVID protocols to racism to financial challenges. We’ve shared ideas for programs, recipes, fundraising, and crafts, and sought to connect with our faith through devotional materials, inspirational articles, and reminders of God’s presence in creation and community. 


    S'more Mail for everyone


    Our first issues went out to UMCRM Association charter members -- just about 150 people in those first few months. S’more Mail’s readership has grown steadily to over 1000 subscribers, and about 45% of you open that email each week. An average open rate for e-newsletters across industries is about 22%, so we know we’re serving up something that’s working for you. Our readers among United Methodist Camp & Retreat staff have been joined by leaders from other denominations and camp organizations, business leaders who serve our community, volunteers, board members, clergy, and others who care about camps, ministry leadership, and the 7 Foundations values that guide us. Thanks to all who have contributed an idea, shared an article, or written a blog post, and to those who have dropped us a note of appreciation for an issue that was especially helpful to you.


    Special gratitude to our current Communications team:

    Lu Harding

    Lisa Jean Hoefner

    Kelley Price

    Jeff Wilson

    Whitney Winston

    and to all the dedicated volunteers who have been part of the S’more Mail project since its inception: Ashley Cross (Holston), Michaela Dotsch (Holston), Cameron Jones (N.Georgia), David Riddell (UNY), Jack Shitama (PenDel), Joan Thorson (PNW), and Mark Walz (KY).


    What’s next? 


    We’ll keep listening and reading and adapting to remain responsive to the kind of content that matters to UMCRM members. One hope for the future is to create periodic collections of most-clicked items for the busy reader. 


    If you have benefited personally or professionally from something you read in S’more Mail, but have never given financial support to the UMCRM Association, please consider making a gift today. 


    If you’d like to volunteer with the Communications team, either (or both) as a content advisor or weekly proofreader, please contact Jen to express your interest.


    If you know someone who would benefit from a weekly infusion of news and ideas related to United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries, please invite them to subscribe - it’s free! 





    Jen Burch has been S’more Mail’s only editor for the past 8 years and 400 weekly issues. She’s laughing about referring to herself in the third person. Jen is a former Director/Manager at United Methodist Camp/Retreat Centers and served two terms on the NCRC/UMCRM board before becoming the Association’s first staff person. She believes deeply in the power of outdoor ministries to transform lives and build God’s beloved community and is regularly inspired by the love and expertise UMCRM leaders bring to this work. You can make her smile by double-checking your spelling and grammar and sending mail, coffee, and/or chocolate.



  • 29 Sep 2021 8:24 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    One of the 7 Foundations of United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministry is “Inspire & Equip Lives For Love and Justice.” (View all 7 here) This week’s conversation explored the journey from the mountaintop experience of a camp or retreat to sending back into daily life. Our hope is that those who spend time in our temporary communities come away changed by that experience. 


    One inspiration comes from the foundational document of our denomination:

    The community provides the potential for nurturing human beings into the fullness of their humanity.  We believe we have a responsibility to innovate, sponsor, and evaluate new forms of community that will encourage development of the fullest potential in individuals.  

    – Paragraph 161,The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2016 (Social Principles: The Nurturing Community)


    Camp and Retreat experiences provide fruitful opportunities for people to gather and to live together for a time. These times of gathering at our centers, dedicated to growth in love, have great potential to inspire guests to embrace life-giving practices and to act more justly and lovingly.


    How do we create community through “creative dislocation”?

    • We meet people where they are, then we grow along with them.

    • Community building is a journey or process, so we support groups wherever they are on that path -- they have different needs and abilities on Friday night than they do on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.

    • Community isn’t a “one-off.”

    • “Change of pace, change of place, and change of face”


    The Call to Engage the World


    The Gospel of Mark recounts disciples’ challenge to integrate the power and thrill of the mountaintop transfiguration into what might come next. They were tempted just to stay up there! Like those disciples, our guests and campers are called to return, changed, to a world that needs them.

    Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.  And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”  Suddenly, when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. – Mark 9:2-8 


    From Year of Plenty by Craig L. Goodwin –

    I find that, too often, we frame the formation of Christian community around the idea of escaping everyday life, as if it were the worst of distractions from things of God. It is assumed that God is hidden in the midst of daily necessities but is more available outside of these pressing rhythms. We are invited into the church sanctuary or retreat center to find God. 


    But what if we’re mixed up in these assumptions? What if we’ve got it all wrong? What if, in fact, the most fruitful places of spiritual formation and connection with God and community are not in the removed, abstract places, but rather in the midst of the most mundane daily realities? What if God is among us at all times and all things, and the daily rhythms of life are the raw material of spiritual lift?

    John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, himself struggled with the tension between the dynamics of forming community and the call to engage the world through service.  

    For a time John Wesley toyed with the idea of a separated Christian community modeled on early Christian communal living-when "all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common." His comment on Acts 2:45 exclaims wistfully: "It was a natural fruit of that love wherewith each member of the community loved every other as his own soul. And if the whole Christian Church had continued in this spirit, this usage must have continued through all ages." Wesley never quite forsook this dream. And during his last three decades he encouraged "The Community" formed by his followers for social service in London.


    Soon after the development of his United Societies in 1739, however, he deliberately set aside any plans to organize Methodist monastics. He maintained in one of his sermons on the Sermon on the Mount that "Christianity is essentially a social religion, and that to turn it into a solitary religion is indeed to destroy it." He realized that we must come to terms with the society in which we live, with all its faults. 

    From “Wesley’s Principles for Social Action” by Frank Baker, Good News, January/February 1985


    Does camp and retreat ministries reflect the idea that God and community are in the midst of the most mundane daily realities? 


    How do we create camp and retreat experiences that show people how to translate their growth in these “set aside” / “monastic” times, to the society in which we live?

    • Showing radical hospitality

    • Modeling holy practices

      • Embracing diversity, confronting the evil of racism and confessing the sin of white privilege through hiring practices, board composition and guest policies.

      • Practicing good stewardship of the earth through conservation, use of recycled materials, use of renewable sources of energy and use of innovative waste disposal methods (composting toilets, created wetlands).

      • Addressing economic inequality by using fair trade products and educating our guests as to their benefits.

      • Going beyond legal requirements for accessibility by showing real concern for and attention to the needs of ALL guests.

      • Practicing authentic community that truly welcomes the stranger, values all persons, and confronts injustice and oppression.

    • Intentionally talking about Christian living beyond camp

      • Give campers and guests the language to share their experiences. Teach them to talk about camp being more than just “fun”. 

      • Speak about this being a temporary community and ask guests to think about how they can recreate that sense of community somewhere else.

      • Micah 6:8 – He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

      • Our guests will learn the value of ongoing community if they have significant camp and retreat experiences in temporary community.  We can interpret to guest groups that the sense of community or covenant faithfulness that they experience through camps and retreats is also available beyond the bounds of our centers.  Such communities of inspiration and encouragement are major assets to living lives of love, justice, and service.

      • Our own Wesleyan tradition provides a powerful model. As mentioned previously, John Wesley decided against set-apart communal arrangements as being too isolated from the world. The “method” he embraced instead was the class meeting. Small groups meeting on a regular basis to form community through support and accountability was the way that Wesley found for Christians to “provoke one another to love and good deeds.” 


    Just because we’re sharing these recaps doesn’t mean you should skip Community Conversations! If you’re able to attend, your presence, perspectives, insights, and even your listening and your smile are a key part of our community life. Thanks to all who have been a part of the conversations. The next one will be Monday, October 11th. Hope you’ll join us!


  • 29 Sep 2021 4:21 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Let’s talk about dress codes.


    Dress codes have been a massive subject in the press this year as more students advocate for their ability to express themselves. For example, a viral Tik Tok video from the beginning of September called out sexism in a school’s dress code. The three students (two women and one man) wore crop tops, but only two were written up. This student called out the double standard, and these sorts of recent protests have inspired some camps and campers to look again at camp dress codes and standards.


    We say that everyone can come to camp and be their true selves, which means they can come here and live their truth without shame or hiding. Does your camp have a dress code policy or rules for what campers can/can’t wear? Do these dress codes and rules affect campers’ ability to be themselves? Let’s look at how our policies actually can support the values of our camp community.


    In many schools, individuals who identify as women have more rules on how they dress than people who identify as men. Why might that be? Society has made us believe that women’s clothing can be distracting to men. Pushing further the “why?” question, we must look at how our culture has sexualized perceptions of women’s appearance and dress. Their shoulders could be distracting, so they can’t wear tank tops, but men can; women’s shorts could be leading the men on, but men can wear whatever they want. If a woman wears a bikini, is it okay for her body now to be objectified? 


    As a mother of two daughters, I am already anxious about my girls having to experience what society has already put me through. Growing up, I remember looking at clothes saying to myself, “I could never wear that, as it will give the wrong impression”, and “Is this safe to wear?” What does that mean? When I stop and think about it, I create the same environment and feelings for my daughters. Why do our young girls have to feel like this? It is not their fault how their bodies look and how other people perceive them. 


    Children’s clothes underscore the difference. Already in toddler clothes, “boy” shorts are mostly longer than “girl” shorts, and “girl” shirts are already cut for curves they won’t have for another decade. Marketers are already instilling these differences that girls will then be taught to be ashamed of.  I believe no one should be made to feel shame about their God-given body. It is already hard enough to find comfortable clothes that fit and that are “safe” to wear. 


    I saw a post on social media that said, “Is that shirt see-through? It feels unfair to tell a girl that it is her responsibility to manage the male gaze. Let’s work to create cultures that actively oppose the objectification of women. I do not want anyone to feel their body objectified at camp or anywhere. 


    As a Christian camp, how do we live by our beliefs and values regarding dress code? For me, that looks like teaching our campers to respect one another no matter what their gender is, who they are, what they believe, and that they have a right to be who they are. This includes dressing in what makes them feel most comfortable. Maybe that is wearing a one-piece swimsuit or a tee shirt to swim, or short shorts or jeans or leggings. Leaders need to be standing up and giving people space to be themselves no matter what is on the outside. 


    Imagine this: A camper who identifies as male comes onto your waterfront in a speedo. Is there a policy that males cannot wear them? No? But is there a similar swimwear policy that only applies to girls? Gendered policies not only feel discriminatory, but may be yet another barrier to a nonbinary camper being able to fit in at camp.


    Here at Aldersgate, our dress code has changed throughout the years. We used to say that shorts needed to be down near your knee, no tank tops, and one-piece bathing suits for women. Now we have a simple dress code. Here at Aldersgate, everyone dresses for the activity they are doing, and what you are wearing cannot have politics, violence, or swearing. 


    We did not have any pushback from our families, campers, or staff because we actually didn’t put any limits on them. Many of them may feel more comfortable in short shorts or a tank top rather than shorts that go down to their knees. We ultimately leave it up to camper families. When I talk to parents who ask about our dress code policy, especially regarding swimwear, I am candid and say, “They should wear whatever they feel comfortable in.” They decide whether that’s a one-piece, a two-piece, or shorts and a shirt. It puts the ball in their court to make those decisions as a family.


    Our dress code focuses on safety. If campers are playing sports, they need to be wearing close-toed shoes. We try to take a positive approach to unsafe dress. If a camper comes with flip flops on, we don’t yell at them and shame them. We ask if they have other shoes at camp with them. If they do, we encourage them to change. If they do not, we work out tasks they can do from the sideline that still includes them and follows the safety rules.


    I want to teach all of our campers that we need to give everyone the space to wear what they want and feel comfortable. At our camp, we’re trying to build a Christian culture of mutual respect, equality, and belonging. May we grow to see one another with the eyes of Christ, who shows no partiality.


    Is it time to revisit your camp’s dress code? 




    Megan Lynch is the Program Director at Aldersgate Camp and Retreat Center in Rhode Island, where she first served as an International Counselor from Northern Ireland in 2010. Megan has worked in childcare settings for over 15 years. Megan has 2 daughters who are excited to be campers. Megan is a part of the Nerdfighter community which was founded by John and Hank Green and focuses on how to make the world a better place. Megan also enjoys a good cup of tea.



  • 15 Sep 2021 10:16 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Stirling Sims, though connected to a family of “camp people,” never really had the quintessential camp experience until this summer. As a student at Queens University in North Carolina, playing college volleyball and studying Nursing, he was recruited by his cousins—long time camp kids, volunteers, and staff, Kallie and Abby Handlong, to join the counselor intern team at Mingus Mountain Camp (AZ).  


    With over a year of COVID living impacting all of us, this summer started with Stirling and the rest of the counselor interns just figuring out how to be around people in real life again – how to connect with others, see each other for who they are, and how to lead campers in the experience that they needed to re-enter into life. To say this was tougher than it sounds is an understatement.

     

    With campers “out of practice,” unused to things like lining up, listening to an adult’s (besides at home) instruction, being aware of others, etc., it meant that in many ways, the Mingus camp staff were reintroducing our campers to the basic rules of living in society. Stirling, focused on offering fun experiences in a safe environment, discovered that a lot of his time was spent just reining in campers, redirecting them, and teaching them or reintroducing them to what it means to be together in  community. 


    After a few grueling weeks, he was questioning whether camp was the right place for him, and after some honest and heartfelt discussions with camp leadership, he decided to give it another week. That week was when the camp magic happened. Stirling's group of campers, a Junior High coed group, was a disparate crew with lots of identities, from the traditionally “cool” campers to more unique and marginalized  youth. The week was hard, but oh so good — filled with fun, heartfelt connections, and those moments when camp transformed from being a bunch of different people to an embodiment of loving, accepting community.  


    Just before that transformation occurred, when Stirling was still wondering why he was at camp, he asked God to show to him that he wasn’t alone and that he was where he was meant to be. In turn, using his Bible app, God pointed him to the scripture of Jonah and the whale (which happened to be a primary scripture we studied this summer). In the passage, Stirling encountered Jonah drowning, overwhelmed, afraid, alone, and exhausted. Jonah was swallowed by the giant fish — not to kill him, but to protect him — to offer him a place of peace amid the chaos. Stirling knew immediately that the scripture was meant for him; that God was offering him camp the way God offered Jonah the fish.  


    From that moment, Stirling saw his campers and the camp experience through changed eyes. He was sure that God was with him and that he just had to listen to hear what God was saying. God showed him the beauty of his challenging group, and the night before camp ended, Stirling found himself just watching the campers as they laughed, swapped phone numbers, and shared their final evening in game play and conversation, thinking to himself, “this is the hardest job you’ll ever love.”  


    Ultimately, though the summer had challenges and lots of growing opportunities, Stirling was fulfilled to finish the summer surprised at how much he enjoyed it and sad to see camp come to a close. He’s sure that God is still with him even in the chaos,  and that is something he’ll forever carry with him from camp at Mingus Mountain.



    Special thanks to the Mingus Mountain team for sharing this story! 


  • 15 Sep 2021 8:48 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)



    Peter Mastroianni, Partner and Chief Innovation Officer at Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg, LLP, was our guest at the September 13th UMCRM Community Conversation. Peter shared with us about escheatment and how to retrieve unclaimed assets that are owed to you, your family, your donors, and your camp ministry.

     

    What is Escheatment?

    "When certain assets are left unclaimed, those assets are transferred to states and other governmental entities in a process known as escheatment. The assets are then custodially held until the rightful owner can reclaim them. Currently, more than $50 billion dollars of custodial escheatment is in governmental possession."

         - Peter Mastroianni  

    Benefits of escheatment

    Am I or my organization owed funds currently held in escheatment?

    Find out if you have assets in escheatment

    Find out if your camp is owed money through escheatment


    This site enables you to search by state to see if you & your family members, your camp/retreat center, or UM churches in your region have unclaimed assets. It is a free resource, so any individual or business can use it. 
    Tips for searching:
    • Click on your state at escheatment.com
    • Search your name, your organization's name
    • Try alternative spellings to your name
    • Try just part of your or your camp's name
    • Search for family, churches, etc.

    How can we create a “Reverse Fundraiser?”
    A "Reverse Fundraiser" is a way to build relationships with your supporters and give back to those who have been generous to your ministry in the past. In most situations, people and organizations do not know that they are owed funds or assets through escheatment. This is an opportunity for your supporters (people, churches, Conference, etc) to make a donation to your ministry with these extra funds that they didn't realize they had in the first place. It will not impact their planned budget.
    Create an event or campaign that teaches donors and supporters about escheatment. Then invite them to give a portion of their claimed assets to your ministry. Here's an example of a "Reverse Fundraiser"
    Another option is to create a video describing escheatment and inviting people to give a portion of their unclaimed funds to your camp. Post the video and the escheatment.com website on your ministry's giving page. 
    We'd like to invite anyone who finds money to give back to UM Camp & Retreat Ministries. Anyone who doesn’t have one favorite camp is welcome to donate back a portion of "found" assets to support our national Association:

    https://umcrm.wildapricot.org/Donate


    Please contact Jessica if you have any questions. Peter Mastroianni is also more than willing to help -- just click the Contact Us button on Escheatment.com.


  • 15 Sep 2021 4:53 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)


    During this year's National Gathering, UMCRM will be raising money for the Legacy of Leadership Fund in a couple of fun ways! Whether you are there in person or not, you are invited to participate.


    The Legacy of Leadership Fund provides scholarships for rising leaders to attend professional and educational events like the UMCRM National Gathering, Compass Points, Immersion, etc. These scholarships are vital in equipping the next generation of camp and retreat leaders to build up this beloved ministry. This year, $8,000 was available to distribute in scholarships. However, each year there is more need for assistance in getting leaders to these valuable events. Supporting the Legacy of Leadership Fund means you are directly supporting your colleagues and friends in the ministry that God has called them to.


    This fall, take part in the Destination Silent Auction by offering a stay at your camp/retreat site and/or by bidding on a unique getaway for yourself or as a gift.


    Share the beauty of your destination by donating a 1-, 2-, or 3- night stay at your camp/retreat center at the link below. During the National Gathering, participants will have the opportunity to bid on the destinations at the Destination Silent Auction. 100% of the winning bids will support the Legacy of Leadership Fund.


    DONATE a stay at your Camp/Retreat Center


    Submissions due by Friday, October 15th


  • 15 Sep 2021 4:34 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Every camp and retreat center has one recipe it's famous for! This fall, use your prize recipe to help raise money for the UMCRM Legacy of Leadership Fund.


    Each recipe will be highlighted on a special voting site. Once the site is live, anyone can vote with their dollars: $1 = 1 vote

    At that time you can promote your recipe on your social media channels and among your supporters. The recipe with the most dollars raised and the recipe with the most individual donors will each win an Amazon gift card for the site/ministry!


    Earn your copy of the digital UMCRM Cookbook by donating $5 or more in votes.


    Submit Your Camp/Retreat Center's Recipe HERE


    Recipes submissions due by Friday, October 8th

  • 08 Sep 2021 8:31 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)


    YOUR CAMP STORY IS YOUR GREATEST ASSET


    At GSB Fundraising, we get camp! We know the impact you have on the lives of the campers and counselors you serve, and it is our mission to help you strengthen your mission. That is why we have launched the new Center for Generosity, to give you ongoing support and access to valuable resources like storytelling and communications calendar outlines. Telling your impact stories will strengthen generosity and engagement for your ministry. Here is a sample story from Good Earth Village Camp in MN after learning the power of storytelling as a result of working with a GSB consultant.

    A Story Sample

    For most of his life, Miles didn’t understand why he didn’t fit in at his school or community. “Life and relationships were challenging for me,” he shared. “I always felt like I had to try and be something different. I had to put on a mask.” 

    Miles' first summer as a camper was in the 6th grade. He spent a week with his home congregation, Bethel Lutheran. “I just remember really enjoying being here. I don’t really remember what we did, but I remember feeling good.” He came again as a camper for confirmation and then returned three years later to serve as a high school senior helper. In 2019 he served as a Staff in Training. With each new camp experience, Miles remembers feeling like camp was a place where he could be himself. “I could take off my mask.” 


    During the midst of his 2019 summer and throughout the fall of that year Miles was being tested to help him and his family understand why he struggled with fitting in at school and with peers. “I actually found out on Christmas Eve,” he said. “I was diagnosed with Autism. That really answered a lot of questions and it felt good to know and have answers.” 


    Before his diagnosis, Miles lived each day wondering and trying to make himself fit into the mold the world expected, but at camp, he didn’t feel that stress or pressure. “All of the staff are open and accepting. At camp, I didn’t have to try and fit into a box like I normally did at school. I could just be me. That was especially helpful when I didn’t know why I was so different.” 


    Now Miles is sharing his gifts and talents, as well as what he has learned through the challenges of life, during his first official summer as a counselor. Without knowing it, the safe and accepting community the staff create at Good Earth Village gave Miles a place of belonging and security. Your generosity to this ministry makes this holy village possible for all the campers like Miles who need to know they are loved and valued as beloved children of God. Thank you for making this safe community a reality. 


    The Follow Up Thank You Letter Tied To The Gift 


    Dear Pastor Jason and Chuck,


    Thank you very much for the significant and beautiful gift that was recently approved for Good Earth Village. This summer, one of our new summer staff came to us after many summers as a camper and one summer as Staff-in-Training (2019). Miles told me that he had always had trouble fitting in at school, but at GEV he felt welcomed and accepted, and he had authentic and deep friendships here that eluded him outside of camp. While it bothered him that at school he felt an outsider, knowing that he had peers that accepted him at camp carried him through. 


    Last year, Miles learned that he has autism. Suddenly those feelings at school made sense, and the acceptance at camp became even sweeter. He was met and loved where he was, as he was.  


    That's the sort of return on your investment that is priceless. Every project we complete because of your generosity makes it easier for people to participate, and more participants means the world gets to see Miles as we see him: a beloved, perfect child of God. 


    Thank you! We look forward to worshipping with you this weekend!

    Dianna




    Learn more at www.centerforgenerosity.com


    Join GSB as a Business Affiliate Member of the UMCRM Association: Click for details


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