Rev. Solomon Graydon Cramer believed strongly in the life-changing impact of Christian camp experiences for deepening discipleship among young people. He generously dedicated a portion of his will to endow scholarships for participation of young people in UM Conference camps. This has become a new annual source of grants supplied by the earnings on the Cramer endowment. This first year of grants in 2017 demonstrates the wisdom and foresight of Rev. Cramer in supplying new opportunities for youth and sparking creativity within camp/retreat ministries. Read below about the recipients of the 2017 grants and inspire fresh visions for your own ministries that may lead to your own application for a grant in 2018. Most grants are less than $3,000, but occasionally may be more.
The priorities of the scholarship grants focus on camp experiences engaging at least one of four dimensions outlined below. It is a plus when they involve multiple aspects related to the fund emphases.
- Minister with Young People Living in Poverty
- Intentionally Develop Young People for Spiritual Leadership and/or Leadership with Camp Retreat Ministry
- Collaborate with Faith Communities Engaged in Vital Congregation Processes of their Annual Conference
- Expand Opportunities for Youth from Underserved Ethnic Populations to Participate and Lead
2017 Grant Recipients
The Experiential Leadership Institute
This camp experience of the North Georgia Conference prepares high school students through learning and practicing spiritual leadership with the supervision and assistance of well-trained coaches. They move into hands-on leadership as Grow Day Camp counselors, implementing core values, spiritual gifts, and service leadership among the younger campers. Following the summer, they are tasked with continuing their growth in faith and development through leadership roles within their congregations. The Solomon Cramer Grant enabled greater involvement of ELI participants from across diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Quote from a participant – This summer I have learned so much about myself and what it looks like to live life as a leader and follower of Jesus!
Michigan UM Urban Youth Camp
This camp focused on a collaboration among urban congregations in the Pontiac and Detroit areas. The initiative gives youth from these cities the opportunity to participate in Christian faith-based camp that is intentionally linked to additional growth in discipleship throughout the year. The camp incorporated the unique needs and dynamics of youth living in urban settings. Participants learned more about United Methodist theology and practice, discovered additional faith formation activities beyond camp in their home communities, and participated in preparation so they can take on greater spiritual leadership as young adults within their communities of faith. The experience gave opportunities for youth to meet Christ in new ways and to make decisions of faith that encourage hope and direction for their lives. Close to 90 campers participated in this strategic collaboration among urban congregations.
Oklahoma Conference Mobile Day Camps
This project launched a new dimension of camp and retreat ministry within the conference. A team of college-age students served with 8 congregations to offer mobile day camps in their communities. The outcomes of these camps include: relationships among new families and children from the community and local congregations, children, youth, and adults growing in their faith, congregational leaders better equipped for ministry with young people, and young adult leaders more aware of their spiritual gifts and growing in spiritual leadership. Special attention was given to connect and build collaboration with ethnic communities. The camps are integrated to other discipleship pathways that occur throughout the year.
Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference Camps
This initiative focused on opening Christian camp and retreat experiences for Native American youth who otherwise could not afford to attend. The camp includes an exploration of the UMC “In Mission” study, inviting the youth to explore issues impacting the world today, the efforts of the United Methodist Church to address these situations as part of discipleship, and a growing faith and spiritual life among the youth. The camp will also involve a deeper appreciation of their unique giftedness as persons along with Indian culture and ways of life. 10-15 tribes are represented.
Day Spring provides camp opportunities for young people living in poverty in the rural communities of West Virginia. Intentional focus on communities still recovering from devastating floods enables children and youth to have a week of love, fun, and spiritual encouragement in the midst of chaotic situations likely to last 3-5 years. Day Spring is a revival for the spirit of communities struggling to meet the needs of their young people. The camps share the gospel of Jesus Christ, developing older youth as spiritual leaders, a collaborative effort among the camp and retreat ministries and local churches of the region.
Central South District Youth Camp
This endeavor focuses on the small- and medium-size churches within the Houston Metro area, many of whom serve low income communities with significant racial diversity. This is a collaboration in which the District leaders bring youth to Lakeview Camp in the Texas Conference for a week of spiritual growth, reflective time in nature, and experiences of Christian community and love for one another. It is an opportunity for the youth to reflect on the future direction of their lives and explore calls to ministry as laypersons or clergy.
Cal-Pac Urban Kids Camp
The purpose of this camp is to give at-risk kids in Southern California a chance to experience a week of Christian summer camp that would otherwise be unavailable to them. We want them to experience what it is like to be outdoors in the fresh air away from the temptations and hardship of urban life, to be with peers and have a great time in the mountain air. The goal is to develop them as leaders for Christ so they can go back with the love of the Lord in their hearts and spread God’s word. This experience builds character and self-esteem in those who may not have many role models and mentors so they can create a new blueprint for their lives.
The purpose of Camp Amistad is to create relationships between children of families who attend a set of United Methodist churches and children of Hispanic Latino immigrants who attend Spanish-speaking worship services associated with those United Methodist churches. Several of the Columbus and Dayton, Ohio area United Methodist churches host Spanish-speaking worship services in their buildings. The services provide a place where members of the local Hispanic immigrant community can gather to worship in a safe and welcoming place. Unfortunately, these services typically have their own Hispanic population that remains largely separate from the original congregation worshipping in the same church building. Often the children of both congregations will attend the same schools, but will not necessarily know one another since they attend the church at different times. Summer Camp is a place where friendships form quickly and can become very deep and long-term relationships. The goal is to provide an environment and programs that facilitate the formation of friendships and Christian community that will carry over into the local church as well as the local school and community.
Applications for 2018 grants are due by February 15th, 2018.