This is the first in a series of three FAQs aimed at answering questions regarding the direction of Camping and Retreat Ministries in the Missouri Conference.
Leading local churches of the Missouri Conference in intentional faith development that shapes “next generations” into mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
What will camp look like for children and youth in 2015?
By January, the Next Generation Ministries Catalog of Spiritual Formation Experiences will be available with children and youth camping and mission details. The Missouri Conference will offer a variety of camps for participants and local churches to choose from that fit the intentional faith development process of local congregations and offer a variety of experiences for individual campers.
The camps will fall into the following categories:
How will we do residential camps?
United Methodist Camp Directors will lead Residential camps at sites not previously held by us. The camps will be hosted at campgrounds owned by other denominations, independent campgrounds/retreat centers, or state camp sites. The sites will be chosen based upon the needs of the camp that is being offered. Some of our past camp/event directors will lead our residential camps, while others will be led by new camp directors (previously referred to as Event Directors). All camps will be designed to emphasize intentional faith development with an emphasis on connecting children and youth to Christ and a local congregation to continue their faith journey when they return home.
Regardless of the location of the camp, our camp directors will recruit counselors from our own United Methodist Churches. The Camp Board will approve Staff and curriculum, as the Board has done in past years.
What are Mobile Camps?
Instead of children, youth, and college-age students traveling to a traditional residential property, a mobile camp travels to the next generation. Mobile Camps include children and teen-focused activities, which can include anything from a bungee system, rock-wall climbing, and water slides, to more traditional experiences like canoeing, zip-lining and archery. The mobile camping experience is designed to partner with local churches in their outreach and discipleship efforts, while offering a week-long experience of life-on-life spiritual formation for each camper.
Mobile camps designed for children will have a camp-within-a-camp offered simultaneously to the teens of the host church. This camp within-a-camp experience teaches teens core leadership practices, provides age-appropriate spiritual formation, and mentoring from a trained group of counselors as they do ministry together.
Mobile camps do not replace residential camps at alternative sites or CMU; they are in addition to these options. Because of the transformational power of camping, we want to continue expanding the camping experience to more of the next generation—not just provide an experience for those who are willing to attend a traditional residential camp.
Who Will Use Mobile Camps?
In 2015 priority will be given to those churches that wish to host a weeklong, weekday camp. In the future we envision multiple mobile camps with other configurations that might include weekend or three day models. We have received several inquiries to begin scheduling the Mobile Camps for 2015. Inquiries have come from inner-city churches, a small rural churchs, and cooperative parishes that plan to use it as a regional gathering. The variety of churches a Mobile Camp will potentially serve is already apparent.
How much will Mobile Camps cost?
Contextualization will be the key. Churches hosting a Mobile Camp will be asked to commit to some level of funding and/or supplying additional volunteers and food. Other fees will be determined by the church as to how much to pass on to individual campers and how much might be part of the church’s missional outreach.
What are Mission Camps Trips?
Junior High and Senior High mission camp trips will continue to be experiences available to the next generation. These camps provide an opportunity for youth to be involved in hands on mission, small group, and worship experiences. For the summer of 2015 our focus will be on creation care. All of our mission camp trips in 2015 will provide spiritual formation experiences that will engage junior high and senior high students in learning and experiencing creation care. Following the mission camp trips, a grant will be made available for junior high and senior high participants to receive funding and implement a ministry that strengthens the creation care in their own community.
How will we keep our children and youth safe?
The safety of all children and youth is of the utmost importance to the Missouri Conference and the Camping Board. In an effort to ensure safety, all of the camps will be seeking American Camping Association certification. In addition, we will continue to follow all of our Safe Sanctuaries policies for directors, counselors and staff who have contact with our children and youth while they are on site.
For those events that are held in more public areas, our policies provide Safe Sanctuaries guidelines for appropriate adult supervision to ensure the safety of our campers. This will be similar to what we have had in place for our youth summer mission trips. Example: A canoe trip on the river will have a higher counselor to camper ratio and no camper is ever allowed to be out of visual site of two adults at any time. Campers will be on the river Tuesday – Thursday when floating on the river is less congested.
How are we adequately planning for 2015?
We are in the process of staffing for our 2015 season. Michael “Sarge” Leonard has been hired as the Director of Facilitation and Logistics, to help coordinate the residential and mission camp trips. He will work with the Next Generations Ministry Director/Catalyst and individual camp/event directors to determine the logistics and all necessary supplies for our camps. Raymond Varner has been hired as the Next Generation Mobile Camping and Outreach Director. He will work with local congregations to contextualize the Mobile Camp experience, and subsequently recruit, train and deploy the Mobile Camp Staff.
We have always attended a particular camping event at a particular time. Will this be possible in 2015?
The Camp and Retreat Board will meet with camp/event directors in November to determine the specific camps to be offered in 2015. For those camp/event directors who are willing to lead camps in this new way in 2015, we will work with their schedules and available locations to have dates as close as possible to the 2014 arrangements. In the past, some of our camps, while designed for sizable groups, had less than 25 campers. Moving forward, we will encourage those camp/event directors to network with each other to provide the best possible stewardship of resources, while continuing to provide a quality camping experience for our campers.
Our campers attended a camp that was closely located to where we live. How will you provide for this in 2015?
The camp board is working diligently to secure sites for camps in all areas of our state. Some of these locations may be closer to you than previous camps had been. However, other particular camps may end up being hosted farther away.
Will the cost of camp increase in 2015?
No. We are committed to keeping the cost of camp for 2015 the same as it was in 2014. In fact, we believe as we continue to work with camp/event directors that some camp costs may in fact decrease for 2015. However, each site will present a different set of variables which may result in varying costs for camps.