Immersion Week 2018
This was the perfect event at the perfect time with the perfect group of people for me. The excellent content was secondary to the relationships that were built, while still providing a good overview of areas of continuing learning that can (and should) be undertaken as we grow in this profession.
– Immersion Week 2018 Participant
The first-ever Immersion Experience, geared toward providing colleagues in camping ministry a chance to immerse in learning about the importance, potential, and best practices of United Methodist Camp and Retreat ministry, was a huge success! Fourteen students and seven facilitators from 4 Jurisdictions and 12 Annual Conferences gathered at the Life Enrichment Center/Warren Willis Camp in Florida to steep in camp leadership in the Wesleyan tradition, exploring together how our unique identity can give voice to a more meaningful future.
Each day was focused on core content and themes central to the UMC camp experience: United Methodist and Camp History, John Wesley, Faith Formation, Discipleship, Personnel and Administration, Best Practices, and the 7 Foundations of Camp and Retreat Ministry. Each morning was spent exploring self-awareness, conflict, and identity exploration; each afternoon allowed for small group exploration of that content. Evening worship explored spiritual discipline practices including breath prayer, the Ignatian Examen, lectio divina, and guided biblical imagery.
Deep conversations around discipleship, offering radical hospitality, and imagining a future in the midst of a turbulent present became the heartbeat of the week, giving life and flesh to the narratives that shape our current sites and ministries. The week was a reminder of the possibility we have when we engage in intentional, meaningful conversation! As one student wrote in reflecting on the week: The Immersion Experience was really wonderful with the commitment and excitement we modeled. To deliver so much information with such care for individuals was fantastic.
As someone who found a life’s calling in the midst of learning and friendships in the UMC Camp and Retreat Ministry Certification Program, I was in awe of the level of commitment of last week’s Immersion group. The culture of learning extended beyond our identities as facilitators, instructors, and students: all learned, all taught, and all listened. It turns out that Millennials, GenXers, and Baby Boomers alone don’t have an answer, but together we have gifts to help bring a bright future to our shared ministry. We learned that we can deepen the meaning and intentionality in what we do by doing it together. Thanks to the UMCRM Board and Jen Burch for lending their support, expertise, and logistical help to make the event such a success. Thanks be to God for all who brought their gifts together, and for the good work ahead of us now.
Interested in learning more about future Immersion Experience opportunities? Contact Gary Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Russell Casteel is the Director of Cedar Crest Camp in Lyles, TN, the Executive Director of Camp & Retreat Ministries for the Tennessee Annual Conference, spouse to Callie, and dad to baby Brown, born in September 2017. Russell serves on the UMCRM Association’s Education Committee and shared his expertise and passion as part of the faculty team for the 2018 Immersion Experience.