A Methodist In the Big World of Christian Camping
I had the privilege to attend the CCCA (Christian Camp and Conference Association) National event this past December in Phoenix, Arizona, and was asked to share a tidbit or two from my experience.
I was not planning to go. I felt at the time that the last thing I needed was another camp conference. I love my Methodist Camping brothers and sisters and love seeing them every two years. And when we get together, it’s great. But did I really need another name tag wearing, goodie bag toting, wandering the exhibit hall trying to win prizes event?
Our ministry had just become a CCCA member for the first time this year. We wanted to try something new, learn from new friends, join a like-minded group, and see the bigger world of Christian Camping. When it came time to register for the national event, we knew that if we were going to stick our toe in the water, we needed to jump all the way in and get to Arizona.
Now this kid from small town Colorado and one of the few Methodists in North Idaho had never worshiped, laughed, and prayed with 1,200 camping professionals before. I had never attended a workshop titled “The Pursuit of Wow” and learned hiring practices from camp HR directors who hire more than 800 young people and who reach 260,000 (!) kids in a summer. But that’s OK, we all serve in different ways and places.
I think what I appreciated the most is that CCCA is focused and not trying to be everything to everybody. They know we have our own church-affiliated events. Here are some of the current initiatives they (and thus we) are working on.
The Power of Camp. No doubt all of us in our Methodist Camping Conferences are working on telling our story and making ourselves relevant to our church and to our constituency. But CCCA is working hard through the Power of Camp campaign to lift up Christian Camping at a national level and to the public at large. I find that pretty encouraging and uplifting to know that we are not alone.
Camper Protect. Nothing is more important than keeping our campers safe. This effort by CCCA helps provide camps with the tools they need to provide abuse training and background check procedures with their partnership with the company Ministry Safe. I know that our Pacific Northwest UMC Conference got started with Ministry Safe last year and so check mark, we are doing well there.
Excellence in Training. I have enjoyed these monthly online events that bring a little tidbit of learning to our ministry whether the topic is leadership, operations, fundraising, or what have you. These are easy ways to take a break from work, get inspired on a topic, and then make your ministry better.
Overall, CCCA national was a humbling and yet encouraging and spirit-filled experience. God is moving, and I believe camp is still the place where God dwells mightily. I know some of my UMCRM friends were in attendance as well and I hope that you were also encouraged and inspired.
Camp Director, Twinlow United Methodist Camp