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  • 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


  • 08 Sep 2021 7:49 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    My first camping experience in the late 1950s was a weekend outing with the Potawatomi Tribe of the Cleveland area YMCA Indian Guides – a father-and-son program that included Native American rituals, respect for nature and solemn spirituality. My name was Morning Cloud, my dad was Flying Cloud (since he traveled a lot) and my mom made his headdress at our dining room table since he was “chief.” We used a drum at our monthly meetings and prayed to the Great Spirit.  


    This experience was a mixed bag for me because I developed a deep respect for Native American culture and ritual, all the while misappropriating it in my white suburban “tribe” of father-and-son Indian Guides. Later, as I studied in college and seminary, I learned how wrong it was for us to borrow the trappings of a culture that wasn’t ours to use. This added insult to injury as those who stole the land of Native people also appropriated their rituals.


    So when it was announced that Michigan Area United Methodist Camping had decided to “do the right thing” and sell Crystal Springs Camp to the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi (yes, the same name as my Indian Guides “tribe,”) it was heralded as something to be celebrated. We have been thanked, recognized, and congratulated for this decision. This troubled my soul. We are not heroes in this scenario – it is not about us as Michigan Area Camping, Michigan Conference United Methodists, or White leaders selling real estate. We received money in the sale, though less than the market value. It was a gesture towards justice. There is still much work to be done.


    Perhaps we can use this event to reflect more deeply and act more fully towards justice. What Native symbols and rituals still exist in our camp facilities and programs that can be removed now? What can we do to build relationships with Native leaders and churches nearby? What can we learn from Native spirituality that can inform our connection to the camp land we steward, and all that God has created?


    I also grew up in Cleveland rooting for my beloved baseball team with the horribly offensive and cartoonish “Chief Wahoo” logo. In 2022, they will finally (after 120 years) change the name and logo to the “Guardians.” How profound it must be to have sacred rituals, symbols, and land stolen and be constantly reminded of it! Why does it take us so long to learn and change? God have mercy on us.




    Rev. David Berkey is Executive Director of Michigan Area United Methodist Camping. He has served as a Camp & Retreat Ministries executive in United Methodist Annual Conferences in Eastern PA, Florida, and Cal-Pac, and served on the boards of several national camp organizations, including UMCRM. He has long been a leader, teacher, mentor, and friend in the UMCRM Association. He is passionate about discipling young leaders, Christian social justice, and baseball.



  • 01 Sep 2021 11:57 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    The "Great Resignation" is the current phenomenon of large numbers of people making job and career changes. Camping and retreat ministries across the country are seeing this play out at their sites and related ministries. 

     

    Why are folks feeling the desire to move out of camp and retreat ministries?

    • Burnout. Leaders were feeling burnout pre-summer. This summer did not provide relief, and in many cases made stress and exhaustion worse. This has been a factor in some early retirements and career changes.

    • COVID lay-offs. Furloughs and lay-offs caused talented folks to seek work in other industries. They have not returned.

    • Career advancement. Camping and retreat ministries often have few opportunities for "moving up the ladder."

    • Weak support systems. Some leaders are feeling like they are "going it alone." 

    • Salary. Camping salaries and non-profit salaries, in general, tend to be lower than average.

    Strategies for addressing these challenges:

    • Camp/Retreat Ministry is both a career and a "life calling." 

    • Create a culture of growth. Even in ministries that don't have a lot of room for advancement, leaders can adjust job descriptions to bring newness to staff who have been around for a while.

    • Give the gift of time. Offer staff times of renewal and days off that don't count against their PTO.

    • Provide professional development or educational opportunities. Explore staff persons' career goals and help them learn skills to keep them growing. 

    • Encourage staff to grow and move on to wherever God is calling them. Don't hold too tightly to staff who are ready for a new challenge. At the same time, be continually looking at who can step up into year-round positions. Create an intentional and healthy flow of year-round staff.

    • Commit to increasing fiscal health so that can translate into better pay and benefits for your best asset: awesome people.

    • Look for opportunities to show how much your staff matter. Could credit card points go toward gift cards? Does housing need a facelift? Can you add bonuses to base pay? Could retirement contributions increase with longevity at the job?

    • Advocate for your own needs so you can best lead those around you. Don't be afraid to ask the Conference or your supervisor for support when you need it.




    Thanks to all who participated, shared ideas, and articulated your values around staff retention and appreciation. Join us on Monday, September 13th for the next UMCRM Community Conversation! 

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

    Wesley Hall at Jumonville



    There’s only so much planning for a National Gathering that can happen remotely, so the Design Team for In The Kitchen was thrilled to be able to gather in person last week at our host site, Jumonville. Between poking our heads into every space that we’ll be utilizing in October and enjoying some incredibly delicious meals, the team focused on all the details that will make the Gathering in October truly special. 


    "In The Kitchen" Design Team group shot: Jeff Wilson, Matt Williams, Becky Valenzuela, Bruce Nelson, Stacey Dickson, Collin Grooms, Allison Doyle, and Ethan Porter. August 2021

    Fellowship is always an integral part of our National Gatherings, but as the team experienced first-hand last week, its role is now more important than ever—and can be done safely even in these uncertain times.


    One of the primary ways we will be able to maintain a safer environment is to place a hard cap of 150 registrations. As of today, this means there are only 24 spots remaining. The not-so-great news is that all the single- and double-accommodations have been spoken for (fortunately, the cabins we’ll be using on site have ample space and there are multiple hotels & motels within twenty minutes of Jumonville.) The good news is that you have until 11:59pm MT on Thursday, September 9th to take advantage of Early Bird Registration.


    We aren’t being hyperbolic when we say “register today!” 


    P.S., The scratch-made Italian Wedding Soup is worth the price of registration alone.


    Matt with gator at 2019 National Gathering in Florida



    Matt Williams is the Director of Sky Lake Camp & Retreat Center in Upper New York. He and inimitable co-chair Heather Withrow are herding the cats/ wrestling the gators/ mixing up the ingredients for "In The Kitchen." 




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