Last month annual conference staff leaders in camp and retreat ministry from around the country came together for three days of learning, sharing and peer fellowship. Conference executives gathered for this annual meeting at the peaceful Indianola Camp on the west side of Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest Conference.
The focused education piece included discussion of Seven Levers: Missional Strategies for Conferences by Robert Schnase. Rev. Curtis Brown, Director of Faith Community Development for the Pacific Northwest Conference, facilitated the conversation looking at connections between camp and retreat ministry and congregational development. Curtis, a strong supporter of camp and retreat ministry, named that congregational development and camping come together through leadership development and that discipleship happens with multiple settings working together. Camp and retreat ministry must be involved in the collaborative ministries. It was shared that it is vital for camp and retreat ministries to have a way to track leadership development in its alumni (and staff alumni) – such as individuals emerging as clergy. Suggestions of software tools to do this included Salesforce, KarmaCRM, and Little Green Light.
Curtis advocated for camp and retreat ministries to continue to build strong connections with ministries focusing on faith community development. Are we equipping “Missional Strategists”? A strong benefit of camping is that it generates new volunteers and does not just “consume” volunteers. Curtis suggested that camp/retreat centers offer all church planters the opportunity to spend a free week at their site in personal spiritual retreat every year. This provides planters with much needed time away from their ministry communities for personal and spiritual renewal, and frequently develops loyalty and commitment to the camp/retreat center by that pastor, wherever s/he is appointed.
Board members and staff from the UMCRM Association and Discipleship Ministries were on hand to share about recent initiatives and to collect feedback on priorities and strategic plans.
Discussion of current topics and strategies in United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministry happened in formal and informal conversations through the three-day meeting. There was also dedicated time for spiritual reflection and personal renewal. For the closing dinner the group took a ferry across the Sound to Seattle to enjoy a casual evening in the city.
Thank you to Darin Gemmer, Director, and Indianola staff for their warm hospitality and faithful service!
Laurie Day is Assistant Director of Mission & Ministry for the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference. One of the many hats she wears is Camp & Retreat Ministry Executive. She is a native of Idaho, a graduate of the Iliff School of Theology, and a Camp Sawtooth alumna.