"Empowered To Thrive"
Mike Standifer, Florida Conference Camp & Retreat Ministries

Like many camp and retreat leaders, Mike Standifer found himself perpetually busy and often overwhelmed by the ever-evolving landscape of the work, leaving little room to anticipate what the future might hold. It was precisely in this context that the United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries Association (UMCRM) became an invaluable resource. The association, born out of the vision of leaders like Mike, sought to ensure that camp and retreat leaders received the necessary training, support, and professional development to navigate the challenges that lay ahead.

Mike recalls an early training session focused on fundraising. At the time, he couldn't have foreseen just how critical this skill would become in the coming years. Reflecting now on the impact of UMCRM on his career, Mike realizes that the association's commitment to providing relevant, timely, and essential training empowered him to thrive in an ever-changing environment. The fundraising training was instrumental in securing the necessary resources to sustain and expand the ministry at Warren Willis Camp and Conference Center. It wasn't merely about learning a skill; it was about future-proofing the ministry and ensuring its continued success.

Mike believes the thing that sets UMCRM apart, though, is not just the practical training but the supportive community it fosters. Camp and retreat leaders who are often isolated by the demands of their roles find a network of like-minded individuals who genuinely care about one another's success. It is this sense of belonging to a family of dedicated professionals that fortifies us for the work. In the whirlwind of his responsibilities, Mike knew that he could pick up the phone and call any number of people from the UMCRM community who had faced similar challenges and experiences. This network provided not only professional support but also a shoulder to lean on during tough times. In his own words, "I can call on my colleagues from UMCRM, and I know they will support me, cry with me, inspire me. ... and it just so happens UMCRM offers trainings, too."

Having received something too good not to share, Mike made sure that others also could access the kind of support he had found through the UMCRM Association. He actively chose to bring his staff to events like the National Gathering, ensuring that they had opportunities to connect with others in roles similar to theirs whom they could call on for guidance and support.

Mike was also a committed donor, both personally and through his Conference. He understood the necessity of giving back to an association that had cared for him and his ministry throughout the years. UMCRM's ability to support leaders like Mike depended on the support it received in return, and he knew that sustaining this network was crucial for the success of camp and retreat ministries across the board and into the future.

Mike's retirement marks the end of a remarkable chapter, but the trajectory and legacy of his 30+ year ministry is in part a testament to the enduring impact of UMCRM. By providing timely and relevant training, creating a supportive community, and fostering a spirit of giving back, the association ensured that leaders like Mike Standifer could thrive in the face of ever-evolving challenges. UMCRM was the anchor that sustained him throughout his ministry, and he has confidence that the Association will continue to strengthen the leaders of valuable camp and retreat ministries for years to come.