Hearts Strangely Warmed

Erica's Blog

October 24, 2013

My heart was strangely warmed many years ago at a youth camp in Kansas. Sunday afternoon I had a flashback to that time of identity and faith formation when I visited our beautiful camp at Covenant Hills in Vermont. The buildings are all shuttered, canoes and soccer balls tucked neatly away, yet I could still hear the voices of campfire songs, see the smiles on joyous faces, and feel the spirit of community and grace that surely flows there each summer. We are in the process of welcoming a new executive director to Covenant Hills and look forward to a new season of outdoor ministry that I pray will warm the hearts and shape the lives of new and emerging Christian youth.

All our camp programs are in the off-season now, but there is much work to be done to prepare for this vital ministry. I encourage each of you to do your part to prepare for a fruitful season of camping next summer. Begin planning now to provide camp scholarships for your children and youth in your community. If you don’t have young people in your congregation, this is even more important…your investment in a child’s camping experience can lead to a new and vibrant relationship with Christ and your community of faith.

  • Reach out to your local schools, invite a neighbor’s kid, advertise in the local paper that you will send a child (or two) to camp next summer.
  • Consider holding a retreat at one of our camps or retreat centers…Aldersgate, Wanakee, Mechuwana and Rolling Ridge are equipped to host groups year-round.
  • Tell your own story of positive camp experiences in sermons and in small group settings. Invite one of our camp directors to a church event or worship to share their story.
  • Block out some room in your calendar for summer 2014 to spend a week volunteering at one of our camps.
  • Plan an intergenerational mission trip to one of our camps to help improve the facilities this fall or next spring.

We are blessed to have a camp or retreat center in every region of our conference. Check out our camp and retreat page for more information.

Were it not for the gifted leadership and intentional opportunities for spiritual formation provided by our United Methodist camping ministry, I doubt I would be in ministry (perhaps not even a follower of Jesus), today. I know that our camps and retreat ministries can reach more people, more young people, more diverse people in Christ’s name…let’s work together to make it so.

Connected in Christ,