I want to take a moment to thank you for awarding not only myself, but the staff of the Michigan Area United Methodist Camping ministries along with two members of our Board of Directors, scholarships to the recent UMCRM National Camp Leaders Conference. Words cannot express the thanks I have in my heart for the gift you have given our new ministry, but I will try to put a few words on paper to explain.
Over the past two years we have actively been working to combine all the Conference camping ministries of Michigan into a new corporation, which will stand on its own on behalf of the United Methodists of Michigan. On January 1, 2017 we made that step, and stand now as nine (9) camp, campground and retreat centers witnessing for Christ in Michigan. Part of my vision for this ministry was to have all of our camp Manager/Directors and some of our Board of Directors join together for a time of learning, networking, and group building. I really wanted everyone to experience the National Conference, but had no idea how I could finance so many people going to the same event. We had no readily available funds. I began to search for options and found that Legacy of Leadership scholarships were available. We all applied!
I was then thrilled to hear Legacy of Leadership scholarships were granted, and we were able to attend. We began to develop our plan of action for gaining the most from the conference. Once on site at Lakeview Camp we sat together and planned who would attend which seminar, to make sure we did not double up and would gain the most knowledge possible. Each person attended sessions and took notes, so that once home again in Michigan we could teach the others on our team what we had learned. We began this process with our first staff meeting on February 16th. We will continue to do this until we have each had the opportunity to teach our team members from the jewels we have gleaned during the conference.
While at the conference, we met each day over a meal to review some of what we had learned that day. During these times, I saw how our team members began to get to know each other better and explore ways to put what was learned into practice. Brainstorming and idea-sharing helped to bring us together and grow the excitement. Add to that the excellent teaching by both Bob Ditter and Rev. Jenna Morrison, the inspiring worship, and the feeling of being with others who share our passion, all brought a sense of refreshment and rejuvenation.
All of this… these “shots of encouragement and inspiration” took place in a safe, loving environment, helping us to take a breath, relax, have some much needed fun, and still learn and bond. For this I am so thankful! Your gifts to us have been a blessing we will see for months if not years to come.
Blessings and thanks,
Rev. George H. Ayoub
Interim Executive Director of Michigan Area Conference Camping Ministries
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