Early on in Barry Lenoir’s ministry at Camp Bethel, a Church of the Brethren Camp in Virginia, he was already a fan of ecumenical and cross-denominational connections. After having served in camping in various capacities for decades, he was active in the Virginia Camp & Retreat Leaders’ Gathering and other regional and national groups. Barry knew there was always plenty to learn from others’ experiences and traditions. As part of continuing education and a process of striving for excellence, Barry made sure he and his staff kept learning, gaining exposure to new ideas, and keeping a greater perspective on the camping industry. 

As a lifelong United Methodist serving a camp from a different denomination, it felt natural for Barry to connect with fellow UMC leaders alongside his participation in ACA and the smaller Brethren Outdoor Ministries Association. Through UMCRM, he found camp colleagues with similar sized operations, similar theological focus, shared commitment to experiential Christian education, and common concerns. 

Barry recalls his first UMCRM National Gathering, at Epworth By The Sea, Georgia, in 2005, where he was blessed by the engaging, Spirit-filled worship music led by Mark Miller from Drew Theological School. Music is an integral part of Barry’s faith and camp ministry, and the experience of lively corporate worship with camp people was rekindling and renewing. He has rarely missed a National Gathering in the decades since, contributing his own expertise as a workshop leader and connecting with like-minded colleagues. Barry has found consistent value in weekly S’more Mail e-news and virtual Community Conversations, as well. His active participation is a reminder that you don’t need to be serving a United Methodist Camp/Retreat Center to find value in the resources and community that UMCRM offers.