Allison started out in camping ministry on the summer staff at Lakeshore Camp in Tennessee, then served at camps in California and North Carolina. Her first memory of UMCRM, though, was when her Director, Rev. Gary Lawson, brought her to the National Gathering at Epworth by the Sea back in 2015. She wanted to go because she could get college credit for attending the conference. At that event, Allison heard a disagreement among members about whether the new Association should be referred to as “um-crumb” or “you-em-cee-ar-em.” She didn’t have strong feelings about the pronunciation one way or another, but was curious about this organization that she was just hearing about.
Allison started to feel a part of UMCRM, though, a couple of years later when she got involved in the Compass Points certificate program. In class, fellow students helped her to begin figuring out “what it was all about,” delving into what a calling into camping ministry might look like for her. “I realized there was this network of people behind and beside me in ministry, cheering me on,” she remembers. She knew then that the UMCRM Association was there as a resource and guide, providing support and a network of people to lean on. Compass Points courses also provided an opportunity to expand Allison’s view of camp & retreat ministry as she interacted with leaders from several other Christian denominations.
She felt shocked when she was first asked to serve on the National Gathering Design Team. “I can be a pretty timid person,” she notes. She didn’t know that many people in the Association and was fairly sure not that many knew who she was. It was scary to be thrown into the role of Vendor Hall Coordinator after Heather became co-Chair of the event, but Allison willingly stepped up to the challenge. Looking back, she says, “being on the Design Team helped grow my confidence in ways I never imagined.” Even though she had to step out of her comfort zone, she did so feeling supported by her peers. She notes that people were eager to help, providing appreciation, encouragement, and feedback that helped her to succeed in a new role. Now, having served on the Design Team with two successful events under her belt, Allison will be stepping up as a co-Chair of the 2025 National Gathering. This time, she knows she is part of an Association she can lean on, and she feels great about being able to help provide a meaningful conference experience for others.