By Fred Koenig
My son Henry started at rocket camp at Jo-Ota. He went for the rockets, and he got plenty of rocket time, but also had a faith-enriching experience. He was excited to return the following year. The next year he aged-out of rocket camp, so he tried Camp Quest at Blue Mountain.
I sold him on that one by showing him a picture of the big floating iceberg. He wasn’t disappointed. Last summer I suggested Nature Camp at Wilderness, and he gave it go. Once again, he had a great experience. When I heard about all of the experts they had on hand that week for the nature studies, I thought he should have earned a few hours of college credit for the experience. He was looking forward to going to Camp Galilee in 2015 to complete the circuit of Missouri Conference camps.
I’m not part of the Camping and Retreat Ministries board, and learned about the decision not to have camps on Conference owned properties in 2015 the same time as everyone else in the Conference. I hope the stories in this issue provide some clarity to the situation. Here are a few more points to keep in mind before you get to the stories.
The decision of whether or not to sell any or all of the four camp properties is a decision of Annual Conference. It will be taken up next June during Annual Conference Session.
I am convinced that the Camping and Retreat Ministries board believe they are acting in the best interest of our children and youth. They think the approach to camping ministries can be better than it is, and they believe that shifting the focus away from the properties is the best way to go about it.
I am also convinced that many of the people opposed to selling the camps are also acting in the best interest of children and youth. They disagree with the board regarding the effectiveness and value of the current camping ministry based around four properties. They’ve seen the result of spiritual formation and faith development that has occurred when members of their church are involved in camps. They have concerns that the proposed alternatives will offer an experience that is less effective than the one that was available up until this year.
Catalyst for Next Generation Ministries Garrett Drake and Central Methodist University President Roger Drake - Although both are relatively new to Missouri, share the same last name and sport similar hair styles – they are not related. I haven’t demanded to see the birth certificates or conducted DNA testing, but I’m going to trust them on this one.
I’ve been moved by the passion expressed by so many people in the state regarding the faith development of youth. I’m grateful to all of the people who have been giving their precious summer vacation time year after year to help provide these formative experiences. I pray that we can move forward together in a way that will foster an increased number of spiritually fulfilling camping experiences for youth for many years to come.