Camping Is More than Holding Hands and Singing… | UMC YoungPeople
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March 2016

Camping Is More than Holding Hands and Singing Kumbaya

By Kelly Peterson-Cruse

Camping and Retreat Ministries and Faith Formation in Young People

As spring approaches, many churches and church members are receiving information about Camp Ministry Programs, from Annual Conferences, Districts, and their own local Church. For some, the choice is where to camp, not whether or not to go to a camp. These people know the value of camp ministry as a place they are meant to be each and every summer. For others, camp ministry is an unknown. These people ask “Why should a camp opportunity hold value over other things competing for time of the summer?” This second group probably doesn’t realize that hundreds of thousands of people of all ages eagerly journey to the “places reserved by The United Methodist Church as sacred common ground” in the midst of God’s creation each summer.

Camp and retreat participants know the value that camp creates, and understand the role of these experiences in faith formation.

So what does the UMC’s Camping and Retreat Ministry’s mission offer to the faith formation of a young person?

“The 7 Foundations of Camp and Retreat Ministry provide valuable guidance and a sense of shared direction among the many camp and retreat centers across the denomination. Each describes the nature of an essential aspect of Christian camp and retreat ministry and provide biblical and theological grounding.”
- Kevin Witt Division of Camping and Retreat Ministries for Discipleship Ministries

What are the Foundations of Camp and Retreat Ministry?

1. Partner With United Methodist Churches & Agencies
One of the most fruitful and vital dimensions of United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries is our participation in a tremendous covenant connection. United Methodists deliberately choose to link together and join forces in a common mission together.

2. Provide Sacred Places Apart
Amid our varied sites within God’s creation, UM Camp and Retreat Centers beckon people to pause from the journey of their lives - to find renewal in an embrace with God.

3. Extend Christian Hospitality And Community
The Core of Christian Hospitality Welcoming people and doing all we can to engender a true experience of community touches people profoundly. We live in a time when people long for connections, but often hesitate to reach out to form new relationships.

4. Nurture Christian Faith and Discipleship
Experiences in Grace One unique gift of Christian camps and retreat centers that other types of programs and centers rarely highlight are specific opportunities to learn from and practice the Christian path taught by Jesus.

5. Develop Principled Spiritual Leaders
Elements of Basic Leadership Leaders play a critical part in shaping the present and the future for good or for ill. The number of books and resources about the nature of leadership and how to lead are innumerable. Within the plethora of perspectives and possibilities, our United Methodist camp and retreat ministries help persons grow in a very specific type of leadership.

6. Teach Creation Care and Appreciation
Faith Formation Outdoors – Part of the Wesleyan Way
The waters nourishing modern camp and retreat ministry run deep within United Methodist heritage.

7. Inspire and Equip Lives for Love and Justice
Camp and Retreat experiences provide fruitful opportunities for people to gather and live together for a time. These times of gathering at our centers dedicated to growth in love have great potential to inspire all individuals and groups to embrace life giving practices and to act more justly and lovingly.

Many young people consider their time at camp sacred, something they share in common with many adults. Aaron Rhodes, a long time camper and now adult camp-staff member says “Little did I know that this camp would forever alter the path of my life and that I would learn to call this place home.

How will you encourage your young people to encounter God, grow in faith, and change their path through United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries? Can you find a camp and retreat facility located close to you that you could visit and experience some “sacred common ground” yourself? Visit to find a UMC facility close to you!

The United Methodist Church in Germany also offers several opportunities for young people to participate in a camping ministry. For more information, please visit:

Additional Resources:

7 Foundations of Camp and Retreat Ministry - Written by Kevin Witt

Webinar: Tuesdays Tea with Melanie- The Power of Camp in Children’s Faith Formation

The website and weekly e-newsletter for UMCRM (United Methodist Camping and Retreat Association).