Welcome to the 
Association of UMCRM


We welcome and encourage your comments and feedback on the UMCRM blog. 
However, please keep it classy.

Some instances where comments will be edited or deleted include:
  • Comments that appear be spam. Links to relevant content are permitted.
  • Comments including profanity or other offensive content.
  • Comments that attack any individual or group.
Blog content reflects the perspective of each individual guest author, and does not necessarily represent any official position of the UMCRM Association.

  • 29 Jul 2020 6:46 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    1. Look online at your conference or camp welcome statement (or lack thereof). Is it very clear that you welcome staff, campers, and guests with disabilities?

    2. Look at your employment materials. Does the non-discrimination clause include disability?

    3. Look at your job descriptions and application forms. Do they describe each position in terms of the core skills that are needed? For example, a lifeguard needs to be able to get quickly to the water, swim well, and have the strength to pull someone to safety, and to be able to communicate clearly to remind, warn and to organize a rescue, but someone at the camp office needs a different set of skills, as does someone working in housekeeping. It makes the most sense to mention potential barriers (e.g., rough terrain) and let the applicant explain how their needs could be accommodated.

    4. Look at your staff training. Is disability considered a part of diversity training, not something that you do for others with "special needs"? Consider ways to be inclusive of those who may have invisible disabilities.

    5. If you address disability, do you have a person with a disability (better yet a youth and an adult with a disability) do the training?  (Would you rely on a Caucasian to do anti-racism training?) Note that disability simulations have not been considered a good thing for many years and should be avoided. 

    6. Look at your facilities and physical accessibility. Is it evident that each time you undertake a project you plan for and incorporate accessibility whenever at all feasible, especially with structures? Do your long-range plans include accessibility?  

    Special thanks to Lynn Swedberg for these suggestions! Lynn is an occupational therapist and UMC Deaconess. She serves as liaison for and consultant to the DisAbility Ministries Committee of the United Methodist Church. Lynn has consulted with many UMCRM sites and is an amazing resource for us all. 

  • 17 Jun 2020 5:11 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    I can’t blame my board member for jinxing it, but in early March, with fears of COVID-19 growing and rumblings of group cancellations, she predicted that the situation would worsen quickly, and within a week, our onsite operations at Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center were closed by order of Governor Baker of Massachusetts.

    For our facility, and probably for yours also, the past three months have been a rollercoaster with the ups and downs of the PPP loan adding to the adventure.  Because of the fluidity of information and delays from our bank, we missed funding from the first round. When our loan was finally approved in the second round, I still wasn’t sure how we would be able to spend 75% of the money on payroll in an 8-week period with our facilities closed and the majority of our staff on furlough and transitioned to unemployment.

    While I listened to countless webinars on PPP, none addressed the concerns I had as a retreat center director. I reached out to Horizons Stewardship and began to raise the issues that I was hearing from others in camping ministry who were also questioning how to maximize the PPP loan with summer camps looking to be cancelled. After an online meeting, they agreed to offer a webinar on PPP loan specifically addressing the needs of those in camping and retreat ministry.  

    Between the time of our initial conversation in mid-May and the date of the webinar on June 3, 2020, restrictions on PPP loan forgiveness were changing as the House had just passed amendments which were going to the Senate.  Thankfully, the proposals would benefit camping and retreat ministries.

    The full presentation with Ted Batson and Stan Reiff of CapinCrouse, and Joe Parks and Rhodes Logan from Horizons Stewardship, can be found here.

    The primary changes in the new law H.R. 7010, The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 simplify the PPP loan forgiveness process and greatly increase the parameters of the forgiveness: 

    1. Extension from eight weeks to 24 weeks for capturing forgivable PPP loan expenses. 

    2. Relaxation of staff headcount because of restrictions or reduction in business so unable to bring staffing back to pre-pandemic levels. 

    3. Reduction of  the SBA’s 75% payroll cost requirement with a new statutory 60% payroll cost requirement.

    4. Extension of the time to rehire workers from June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

    With the reduction of payroll costs from 75% to 60%, forgiveness is now "all-or- nothing," but the extension to 24 weeks makes forgiveness more realistic for camp ministry sites. For seasonal camps with no summer staff in 2020, the suggestion is to first calculate forgivable payroll costs, and if 60% is not reached, consider bringing on staff in new temporary roles (i.e., donor development). The key principle in whether a site should bring back staff is to balance the needs of the camp with the needs of employee.

    While the 60% for payroll is non-negotiable, the remaining 40% of the loan provides camps and retreats the opportunity to invest in the future through proper cash management in either full forgiveness, pending expenses for utilities, mortgage, et al, or as a low-interest loan.  

    Because the rules of engagement for PPP have changed with reduced payroll over an extended period, more options emerge from a stewardship perspective for the 40%. For many of our sites, recovery will take more than a year. It is important for us as ministry leaders to keep our eyes on the big picture as we make wise decisions, while remembering, as Stan Reiff says in the video, “Our dependency is not on the PPP loan, but on God, who gives us enough for what we need.”  

    With the PPP situation still fluid, it is important to stay dialed in with the latest updates. Keep in touch with your bank, as they are the ones who will determine whether your expenses are forgiven. Most importantly, fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and our constant companion on this rollercoaster ride.

    Rev. Dr. Lawrence Jay is the Executive Director of Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center, one of four CRM sites of the New England Annual Conference. An ordained American Baptist pastor, he has been involved with camping and retreat ministries in both California and Massachusetts since 2006.

  • 17 Jun 2020 4:17 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Sadness, excitement, fear, relief, anticipation, anxiety, hope … these are all emotions that camp and retreat leaders have expressed when I’ve asked them, “How are you feeling about making the hard decision to not hold traditional summer camp this year?” Many expressed the surrealness of feeling all these emotions at the same time. As I’ve interacted with United Methodist camp/retreat ministry staff over the past three months, the feeling that I have had most often is the feeling of inspiration. I am inspired by the tireless efforts camp leaders put into the decision-making process. I am inspired by the outpouring of support from our camper families, volunteers, and donors toward our ministries that have needed to cancel or modify summer camp. I am inspired by the way our community of United Methodist camp and retreat leaders have come together to support one another. And most of all, I am inspired by the way all of our summer camps have gotten creative in providing ministry experiences this year. 

    UMCRM member ministries are learning new ways to provide clean/safe spaces. They are spending weeks preparing and shipping “Camp in a Box” materials. They are figuring out how to implement cohort camping and recording videos for virtual camp experiences. They are reaching out to serve their communities with meals, masks, and other symbols of Christ’s love. The creativity and adaptive leadership on display inspire wonder at the quality leaders that God has called into camp and retreat ministry. 

    During these past several months, every Director, Board member, and staff member worked hard to gather, synthesize, and interpret information for their context. We leaned into our mission and calling, weighed risk, agonized over contingencies and outcomes, and prayed for guidance. No matter where we landed in our decision-making about Summer 2020, none of us are alone in those decisions.

    Of the 170 UMCRM ministries that were anticipating a 2020 summer camp season, we have learned  that: 

    • 139 have canceled traditional summer camp programming

    • 19 have modified or shortened traditional summer camp programming 

    • 6 are planning to hold a full traditional summer camp program, 

    • 2 sites have decided to suspend their operations indefinitely 

    Each and every decision made during these months required courage. God called us into unfamiliar territory, and our UMCRM community members stepped up to the challenge. As the journey continues, the call for courageous leadership remains. The road ahead will bring with it additional challenges and hard decisions. We will continue to feel sadness, excitement, fear, relief, anticipation, anxiety, and hope; perhaps all at the same time. Whatever lies ahead of us, I feel confident that our community will continue to inspire and lift up each other as we journey together. The UMCRM Association will be here to help share resources, show up for one another, and pool our collective courage and creative energy for the benefit of all.

  • 16 Jun 2020 2:37 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)


    Leadership can be challenging and sometimes lonely, even during the easiest of times. That is why the National Gathering of United Methodist Camp & Retreat Leaders is so vital to so many of us. In January of this year, the Design Team met at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado to begin putting together a gathering that would help all of us elevate the ministries we steward. The team began lining up some amazing speakers, workshops, worship experiences, and a vendor party to top all vendor parties. Then Covid-19 hit.

    As the weeks turned into months, we still held onto a glimmer of hope that we might be able to find a path to host our planned January 2021 event. Over the past several weeks, a task force was formed to explore the various options available to us. Ultimately, the UMCRM Association Board unanimously accepted the recommendation to postpone our National Gathering until 2022. The postponement also brings with it the need to relocate where we gather. We will share more details of the 2022 Gathering with you as they develop.

    While we have pushed pause on gathering together as a full UMCRM community for nineteen months, it is “pause” and not “stop.” Even as you read this, a team of volunteers is being formed to explore new and innovative ways to meet your needs for education and networking over the coming year. We can’t wait to see where the Spirit will lead us!

    Kim Bell & Matt Williams, National Gathering Co-chairs

  • 03 Jun 2020 6:42 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    With great excitement, I anticipated the virtual meeting with Vice President Pence scheduled for May 28, 2020. I was invited to join the call by Tom Rosenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Camp Association (ACA,) and Henry DeHart, Chief Operating Officer of ACA. They were convening a “leaders’ call” during which camping professionals would discuss with members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force the challenges that “threaten the ability of camp professionals to provide essential summertime learning experiences… in this unprecedented economic crisis.” The Vice President and his team wanted to learn about how they could help us “preserve the continuity of our camps and respond to the educational needs of children, youth and young adults in this pandemic.”

    So I got ready. Dressed better than usual from the waist up (in the new normal of working from home,) and to appear more professional, I followed the instructions to log onto the call early to get in the queue for the meeting. Much to my surprise and amusement I found the instructions to a conference call rather than a Zoom call! I giggled at myself for the vanity of getting dressed up and proceeded to log into the number, punch in the meeting code and record an announcement of my name.


    After a roll call of those present, Tom Rosenberg spoke about the camp industry and identified perspectives represented on the call, including faith-based camps, non-for-profit, for-profit, those serving special needs campers, day camps, and overnight camps. He also spoke of the impact of the camp experience and the fact that each summer, camps in America serve over 20 million children and youth.  

    Vice President Pence then introduced those who were on the call with him, including Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, and Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy of the Treasury Department Dr. Michael Faulkender. Pence extended his gratitude for our efforts in what we provide for families across the United States. He shared that he was a counselor at a summer camp in Louisville, Kentucky, and that even today, as a father, he appreciates us for what we do.  

    Vice President Pence appeared well informed about the difference camps make on lives in the “great outdoors” and our plight over the last few months during the coronavirus pandemic. He spoke about the efforts toward opening up America and referenced the CDC Guidelines and the ACA Field Guide as supplements to state and local laws.

    Dr. Deborah Birx spoke and acknowledged camps’ abilities to respond to this pandemic and support children coming to camp. She talked about being a camper back in the day and the impact she experienced. Dr. Birx is supportive of camps and confident that we already have health and wellness protocols in place to deal with communicable diseases. She noted that most have medical staff supporting our summer camp operations. She also spoke about referring many of her patients over the years to summer camps, as she knew first hand our ability to serve even campers with serious medical needs. Dr. Birx recognized camps for the “extraordinary work [we] do.”  

    Dr. Michael Faulkender talked to us about the economic impact the pandemic was having nationwide, the camping industry being no exception to the economic damage. He also told us that on May 24th, the Treasury Department “fixed a disparity in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)” in that they added the 12-week period of May 1-September 15 as another look-back period to determine maximum loan amounts. This added period took into consideration the “high season” of the camping industry. Faulkender also anticipated that there would be another round of legislation for families and small businesses.

    After about an hour and several questions posed to the Vice President and his team, Vice President Pence closed the time together by saying, “The best thing to do is get our camps back open….”  To that, we all agreed, and Tom Rosenberg thanked the team for their time, insight, and input. 


    I can’t help but believe that this conversation with Vice President Pence, Dr. Deborah Birx, and Dr. Michael Faulkender was time well spent. On at least two occasions, VP Pence made note to include items of interest in a meeting agenda he and this very team were attending after our call. At the very least, I believe that the camp industry was put squarely on their radar and that the numbers affected each year by the camp experience are enough to get their attention for further conversations down the road.  

    I want to thank Tom Rosenberg and Henry DeHart for organizing the call and including me in the invitation. I, along with many of my colleagues, am deeply appreciative of ACA’s advocacy in Washington and their efforts to include the voices of camping from across the United States in conversations like this.  

    Dail Ballard is the Executive Director of the North Carolina United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries, Inc.  She oversees Camps Chestnut Ridge, Don Lee, and Rockfish.

    View the White House's "Readout from the Vice President's call with Summer Camp Owners and Operators"

  • 29 Apr 2020 4:23 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Bob Giesy (1940-2020) dedicated his life to sharing a sense of joy and a love for outdoor recreation and for Christ with generations of young people. 

    Rosemary & BobIn 1964 Bob was sent by the General Board of Global Ministries of The UMC as a US-2 to serve as a group worker with inner city boys at the Wesley Community Center in St. Joseph, Missouri. Through the US-2 program he also met his wife of 53 years, Rosemary.

    From 1966-1969 Bob continued serving as a group worker with inner city youth, now at Wesley House Centers in Nashville, TN. Then from 1969-1971 he became Executive Director of Camp Widjiwagan, Nashville YMCA.

    In 1971 a childhood friend from Houston, TX and UMC minister, Glen Langston, recruited Bob to Virginia, where he became Executive Director of Camp Highroad in Middleburg. There he was an early practitioner of the decentralized, small group camping model. 

    From 1980-1982  Bob was President of the Chesapeake Section of the American Camping Association. Following that time, Bob served for 13 years as Superintendent of the Rockville (MD) Civic Center Park. 

    Bob telling stories at Alta Mons

    In 1995 Bob returned to United Methodist Camping, where he served as the first Executive Director of Camp Alta Mons in Shawsville, VA, and where he became known for spinning Willie Jack folktales.

    Following his retirement in 2006, Bob and Rosemary moved to Charleston, SC just in time to become grandparents to four active grandkids. He continued to lead group games and tell stories to friends, family and the non-profit organizations he supported. He was an enthusiastic member of Bethel UMC in Charleston, SC.

    We're grateful to God for Bob's well-lived life of service and for his lasting contributions to outdoor ministry in the United Methodist tradition. 

    Read Bob Giesy's obituary here.

    Rev. Gary Heaton reflects...

    It is difficult to conceive how God used Bob Giesy to mold my experience of the Body of Christ. His faith, devotion to family, and passion for outdoor ministry were generously shared with generations of people whose faith journey led them to camping.   

    My first exposure to Bob was through a camp counselor, Ron Robey, whom Bob trained and instructed in the the art of Small Group Camping. Bob was among a devoted group of Camp Directors who adopted the Small Group camping philosophy championed by John Ensign, author of the classic "Camping Together as Christians." That philosophy was passed from John to Bob to Ron to me, and I continued to pass it on through my own ministry. Ron answered the call to leave public school teaching to become a career UM Camp Director and I answered a call into ordained ministry that kept me deeply invested in camping.

    All across Virginia, generations of campers, counselors, and colleagues were blessed by Bob's infectious smile, corny stories, and confidence in how the Holy Spirit works through a relationship with the out-of-doors. Ron Robey, John Hall, Barry LeNoir, Jen Burch, and Russell Davis (just to name a few) have all been touched by the wake of Bob's leadership in UM Camping and Retreat Ministry in the Virginia Conference. Bob introduced me to my future wife Beth at Camp Highroad and years later I was privileged to hire his daughter Rachel as a camp counselor at Camp Alta Mons. Over the years, I learned many things by watching Bob, and some of his wisdom took time to come to light. For instance, Bob would hire people who did not have outwardly perfect qualifications for working summer camp. He hired me when I was a bit too young to work at residential camp; he hired my wife Beth when she was a little unsure of working for a church camp; he hired John Hall as maintenance staff and he grew into a Program Director. Bob seemed to find people to work at camp who might be out of step or maybe challenged by some social, physical, or emotional liability. Yet time and time again Bob's wisdom was proved amazing by how the summer camp staff would come together into a cohesive and highly functional whole. (1 Corinthians 12!)  His gift was a keen understanding of the interdependence of the Body of Christ and the way the Holy Spirit works over time in an outdoor setting. I am sure there are many more names that I have left out who were touched by Bob Giesy's life and ministry (you know who you are). I mostly want to express sympathy to Rosemary and the girls and my gratitude to them for sharing their wonderful father and husband with United Methodist Camping and Retreat Ministry. We are blessed to be part of that family. 

    Gary E Heaton

    Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Charlottesville, VA

  • 08 Apr 2020 6:49 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    UMCRM community members have been sharing memories and celebrations of Jack Porter this week. 

    From Jane Petke, Co-Director at Suttle Lake Camp (OR):

    "Jack and Ruth Porter served alongside of Daniel and I the summer of 2003, supporting us and the camp as we anticipated the birth of our first son.  I remember fondly one evening as the campers gathered in the parking lot after the first day's fire drill.  

    Jack had the circle of campers look up around the circle at each other, asking, "What do we breathe in?"  The campers responded, "Oxygen!"  Then he asked, "What do we breathe out?".  The campers responded, "Carbon Di-Oxide!".  Then he had the campers look up at the tall trees surrounding them, asking "What do the trees breathe in?"   "Carbon Di-Oxide!" then asking "What do the trees breathe out?  "Oxygen!"  Then he simply said, "Isn't God good!"   I am thankful for the mentor that Jack was to me and so many camp leaders."  

    From Sandy Sisson: "This is one of those times where you want to push the heart and sadness together...yes, truly a wonderful soul. It has been years ago, but I still count meeting Jack Porter as a privileged path crossing. While attending Southeastern UMC Conference Recreation, Camp, Retreat Gatherings at Sumatanga {week long events of learning/sharing/affirmation}, I was blessed experiencing workshops and his wisdom - fellowship campfire times. He made a difference in my chosen ministry vocation and personal life."

    From John Erdman: "It was such an honor to follow in Jack’s footsteps at Wesley Woods and a real blessing to get to know him. He was always so positive, kind and passionate about camp and the young people we served."

    From Randy Pasqua: "I am privileged to be from Holston Conference where I experienced as a teenager Jack’s leadership on retreats at Camp Wesley Woods, and then as a young pastor with ambitions for Outdoor Ministry. I am part of his camping leadership legacy that has grown from his deep love for God, for this world, but especially for us. He taught us how to listen deeply to each other as he did to us. He taught us to smile and laugh (particularly at ourselves) and find the joy in most all circumstances.  He introduced us to Jack Tales, stories of the adventures of Jack and his brothers and their life in the Appalachian Mountains. He modeled many of the antihero characteristics of Jack as he embraced life as it came, and looked after us with deep compassion and love. He always found a way to help us become the hero of the story rather than himself. This Christlike spirit is the foundation that Jack established for us to carry on as he ventured into the wider world of United Methodist Camping. And then we have been doubly blessed to have Jack back among us in his retirement years. Smiling, encouraging, and leading with a story of hope, possibility and love."

    From Jan Thomas:  "I remember meeting Jack and Ruth at the first national gathering I attended in 1976. He told me that he was the director of Wesley Woods in Tennessee, which I had never heard of. Who knew that I later would be the director there and would live in the house that he built? Our paths crossed often through the years, and it was always a joy. His was a life well-lived."

    From Lee Padgett: "...truly great servant...I remember Jack took me rappelling for the very first time during the SEJ annual recreation lab the week after Easter years ago. He had that genuine sweet gentle spirit that drew you in."

    From Camp Tekoa (NC):  Jack was the Executive Director of Camp Tekoa in the 1980s-90s. He was a beloved fatherly figure to campers and staff for many years. Under his leadership, Tekoa reached thousands of children in the name of Christ and formed the faith of hundreds of young adults, many of whom are in ministry today. Jack served local churches in our area alongside his ministry at Tekoa out of his deep love of pastoral ministry.

    Jack was known for his hilarious and engaging stories, his gentle chuckling laugh and his kindness to every person that knew him. He had a twinkle in his eye as he worked and played at camp, modeling for us all how to share the love of God with children. You might find him climbing a tree or scaling a rock or possibly scratching notes on a piece of cardboard for the next new ropes course element he'd thought up. He would never leave a piece of trash on the ground (after all he grew up in Scouting) and he would never leave a smidge of leftovers in the fridge (he had been spotted eating many varied concoctions and interesting combinations of food). The Camp Tekoa experience of today was formed under his leadership and vision.

    Outside of Camp Tekoa, Jack was well-known in the Christian camping community. He revitalized several sites, assisted smaller locations in developing programs and constantly sought ways to support the greater camping community.

    May we all remember the fun skits he performed with his beloved wife, Ruth, the Jack Tales stories he committed to heart and the beautiful echoing of Jack's voice across the lake at candlelight. Camp Tekoa exists today because of his deep love, sacrifice and call to ministry.

    We know many more UMCRM folks have delightful memories of Jack. Feel free to add yours in the comments below!

    Donations in Jack's honor may be sent to the Porter Scholarship Fund for sending children and youth to camp. Make checks payable to Holston Conference Camp and Retreat Ministries and write Porter Scholarship Fund in the memo line. Mail to Mary Thompson, CRM Executive Director, 262 Bart Green Dr., Gray, TN 37615.

  • 18 Mar 2020 11:41 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    UMCRM Weekly Community Meeting

    2:00 pm Pacific, 3:00 pm Mountain, 4:00 pm Central, 5:00 pm Eastern

    Each Monday (until further notice) UMCRM will host a Community Meeting on Zoom – a time to check in with one another, provide mutual support, and share ideas. All who provide leadership in some way (staff, board, volunteers) in United Methodist-affiliated camps are welcome. Here’s the link


    Resource Library

    Why reinvent the wheel? Check out documents (sample policies, email communications, and more) shared by UMCRM members. Contribute yours by emailing to LibraryAdmin@umcrm.org  

    Log into the Library

    NEW! UMCRM Virtual Day Camp

    Camp leaders are resourceful, fun, and creative. While we dream of the campfires, hikes, games, and other together-in-person adventures we’ll return to eventually, UMCRM community members are creating an online, virtual resource for campers of all ages to access from home. The free Virtual Day Camp will be up starting next week, with new content regularly added for as long as we need to be “virtual.” Let us know if you would like to contribute content. We will have a social media teaser available for you to share with camp families in the next couple of days. Join the UMCRM Facebook Group for timely updates.

  • 26 Feb 2020 9:40 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    I feel honored to nominate Dave Cook, Wallowa County resident for the award of “Unsung Hero 2019"! I met Dave Cook 8 years ago when he was retiring as Wallowa Lake United Methodist Camp Manager and my husband and I were taking over as Camp Directors. Funny thing is, Dave Cook is not “retired”, he is employed as a “volunteer” who works more than full time serving this community as well as the world, to enrich lives and make this world a better place.

    Dave Cook lives our camp mission statement. He is a person dedicated to providing quality environments of hospitality and learning, to help persons grow in wisdom and healthy self-esteem. He helps people develop lifestyles of loving interdependence with each other and all creation. He helps affirm and expand people’s faith and their service in God’s world. Dave Cook volunteers thousands of hours at this camp and throughout the community. He is at camp working almost every day unless he is out of town or volunteering somewhere else. He is here rain or snow, heat or cold. He often rides his bike 14 miles round-trip from his Joseph home to camp. Dave builds and builds and builds….building after building has been built under his guidance and many have been totally renovated or remodeled by him. He often works alone, appearing without us even knowing he is here, until we see his bike, car, cinnamon twists from Valis or his smiling face. His energy is contagious so when he invites others to volunteer they almost always say “yes” and work side by side with him. He wants no attention or “fuss” made over his countless hours of labor. If asked, he will drop whatever he is doing and help with something else, including heavy labor moving metal bunk beds or climbing on roofs…jobs meant for much younger people. He has spent endless hours teaching young people how to do what he does. He has helped more than one Girl Scout earn her highest Gold award, teaching them how to build a mountain chapel, a river chapel, put in trails and tear down a hazardous building. There is no end to his patience!

    This camp would not be what it is in this community without Dave Cook’s years of service! But in order to understand “why” that is so valuable to this community and to the world, you need to know “who” he has affected by what he does at this camp. Every year, this camp is a sacred place serving amazingly diverse groups and peoples. People with mental struggles, people needing healing, people with devastating emotional scars, people who are alone who need community, people who are lost, people in poverty, people who are unaccepted, people who come to learn and grow, people celebrating… celebrating families, marriages, births, deaths. This camp is a place for quilters to make quilts for veterans, for young people to gain confidence and self-esteem, a place for Nez Perce (Niimiipuu) brothers and sisters to gather on their homeland. This camp is where musicians learn to play. It is where people are fed food and love in community. It is where leaders come to refresh and where peace is plentiful. It is where people are outside, away from everyday stresses, learning from nature and quiet along with programs and people. It is where college students come to know each other, a place of diverse people living in community. Dave Cook not only volunteers quietly, he gives quietly. His wife, Ingrid, and he have donated two cabins to this sacred place along with giving a number of other generous financial gifts throughout the community and world. Dave Cook never complains or says an ill word towards anyone. He doesn’t question why someone needs help, he is there, ready to work. When an older woman neighbor needed a tree cut down, he was there. When pavers and building needed to be done at “The Place”, the new community building at Joseph United Methodist Church, he was there. When a person in the community needed a new metal roof, he was there. When an elderly struggling couple needed firewood cut so they could heat their home, he was there. When Mid Valley Theatre needed someone to build sets for their productions, he was there, building sets for over 10 years, each one taking countless hours of time, creativity, and determination.

    As much as Dave Cook helps in the Wallowa County Community, he also helps his neighbors around the world. Every year, he organizes a group of people to travel to Salt Lake City for a week volunteering at the “Depot” to put together disaster relief kits, school kits, layette kits, sanitary cleaning kits etc….to be sent all over the world through UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee On Relief). On his own initiative, Dave Cook started a scholarship program for high school students from his high school, Fredonia High, in Kansas. He has made numerous trips through some of the worst weather, to get to Kansas to set up this scholarship program, put together brochures and mailings, set up and attend meetings, solicit funds and oversee the entire program to make sure it succeeds!

    Every Sunday at Joseph United Methodist Church Dave does what is called the “Mission Moment” where he shares ways the congregation can help with needs throughout the community and world. Dave Cook is a bright light in what can often be a dark world. He gently spreads messages of hope and kindness. He lives to serve, and spends his life being an example of what it means to be a hero. He is my hero! Dave Cook inspires me to be a better person. He inspires me to give and keep giving, even when I’m tired. Dave Cook deserves this award and deserves to know what a hero and example he is to so many throughout this community and the world! Please select Dave Cook for the Wallowa County Unsung Hero Citizen of the Year! He deserves it every year in my book!

    Blessings, Peggy Lovegren

    Unsurprisingly, Peggy's nomination inspired the Wallowa County Chamber to award Dave with the "Unsung Hero" honor.  Dave was honored at the Citizens' Award Banquet this weekend. True to form, he was too busy to be present as he was in Salt Lake City volunteering with UMCOR. Dave Cook, you are an inspiration to us all!

  • 26 Feb 2020 8:19 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    The forward-thinking philosophy and inspired generosity of one individual is changing the lives of many. Throughout his life, the Reverend Solomon Graydon Cramer could see that the ministry happening at United Methodist summer camps across the country was preparing the church’s young leaders for lives of impact through discipleship. As a testament to his belief in the power of camp, Rev. Cramer built up his legacy by endowing a portion of his will to ensure future generations of young people could benefit from the camp experience. Since 2017, the Solomon Cramer Fund has been sending more young people to camp by granting scholarship funds to deserving conference camp programs. In those three years, United Methodist camps have received well over $50K in scholarship grants for young people participating in a variety of innovative programs that reach beyond the traditional ways of doing camp. 

    Scholarship grants from the Solomon Cramer Fund encourage us to consider the breadth of our ministries by focusing on four priorities:

    1. Experiences that minister with youth living in poverty
    2. The intentional development of young people for spiritual leadership and/or leadership with Camp & Retreat Ministries
    3. Camp experiences that collaborate with local churches and agencies in processes of faith formation
    4. Providing opportunities for diversity within ministry participation and leadership

    Special consideration is given to Camp & Retreat Ministries that focus on more than one of the priorities and that are launching new programs/opportunities. 

    The 2019 Solomon Cramer Fund grant recipients were: Camp Don Lee, Camp Chestnut Ridge, Camp Wrightwood, Jumonville, Loucon & Aldersgate Camps, York City Day Camp/Susquehanna Conference, and Uskichitto Retreat Center.

    These grant recipients exemplified the legacy of Rev. Cramer in the programs and projects supported by the Fund. Here are a few highlights from the 2019 recipients:

    • Camp Loucon and Aldersgate Camp (KY) used their grant to provide an additional 20 young people with the experience of camp through their mission site partners including The Foundry, Grace Kids, Ida Spence Mission, and the Redbird Missionary Conference.  

    • Camp Don Lee (NC)  brought together their Leadership In Training youth with local UM churches and AME Zion churches to offer a traveling day camp program that “provides a safe place for children to experience God and God’s creation.” 175 children were reached through the program.

    • Jumonville (PA) fully funded an additional 10 participants in their HOPE Camp program, bringing foster children and those with an incarcerated parent into “a safe environment to be encouraged, loved, and challenged to grow in their spiritual, social, and personal lives.” 

    • The Lead From YOUR Strength program at Camp Wrightwood (CA) brought together young people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds for an intentional time of discernment, self-awareness, and leadership development.

    The March 15th application deadline for the 2020 round of Solomon Cramer Grants is quickly approaching. This is an incredible opportunity for your ministry to provide a camp experience for young people regardless of their ability to pay. A Solomon Cramer Grant could be the pathway for a young person to learn of God's love for them, hear their call into ministry, or grow in leadership at your site this summer. The partnerships and projects you try this year might open new doors for service and collaboration in your Conference and community. Imagine something new. Apply today!

Questions?  Please contact our Association Registrar

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software