7 Foundations of United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministry
1. A Place Set Apart: Sabbath, Solitude, & Silence
Goals, Actions, and Outcomes
G: Each camper will have the opportunity to be spiritually nourished through daily devotions, praise and worship, and meditation.
A: Counselors and program staff will plan all devotions, music, and meditations to the best of their ability, and use focused thematic intentionality in order to build and reinforce scripture, love, and ethos.
O: Each camper will better understand the significance of worship in Christian practice. We desire for our campers to grow in their faith through relationships with summer staff and fellow campers.
G: All visiting or staying at Camp Lake Stephens will experience the set-apartness of the campus.
A: All staff will articulate the special place of Camp Lake Stephens in its surrounding community, reinforcing ideas of its uniqueness.
O: All who visit Camp Lake Stephens will feel better about the world around them, and be more aware of the importance of daily silence and reflection. We do nature hikes with our campers so that they will better understand the place and its wildlife, which will lead to them appreciating it in an impactful way.
G: Each person that comes to CLS will recognize the importance of the outdoors and its solitude.
A: Staff will articulate in words, actions, and written materials (i.e. brochures, program material, documentation) the significance of natural entities, and the importance of caring for them. Staff will also embody what it means to care for the natural world in a real way by modeling it to campers and peers.
O: All will embrace the uniqueness of the outdoors, thus taking better care of the outdoors nearest them by incorporating better daily living practices into their everyday lives. We want campers to experience the garden and nature hikes as an opportunity to grow in their empathy of the natural world.
G: Staff will demonstrate through their communication with families, campers, and staff what they mean to accomplish during both the camping and non-camping seasons. Goals and outcomes will be available through parent information links on the camp website, and parents will be able to measure their camper’s experience through filling out a summer camp evaluation, which will be measured to help make the camp experience better for the year ahead.
A: Staff will ensure that goals and outcomes for campers be displayed prominently on the camp website, which is the primary means of dispensation of camp information. Also, staff will make sure that camp evaluations will appropriately discuss the needs of the individual camper while evaluating the goals and outcomes set forth by the camp experience.
O: CLS will be able to set appropriate goals and outcomes that help to make more involved, socially aware, and faithful campers. Families and camp sponsors can better understand the camp process and intention, while helping to make the camp a better place for learning and growth.
2. Promote Christian Hospitality & Community
Goals, Actions, and Outcomes
G: Each camper will be provided opportunities that develop and enhance self-esteem.
A: All counselors and program staff will encourage campers with Christian love to try new and challenging activities, while discussing their reservations and fears.
O. Each camper will develop self-confidence and grace as part of their personality, realizing their own self-worth as a child of God and member of the Body of Christ.
G: Each camper will participate in three activities during the week that will personally challenge the camper – such as the challenge course, hiking, outdoor living skills, and low ropes team-building.
A: All counselors will take care to make sure that campers participate in challenging activities, while encouraging them to make new, bold moves in other areas of life.
O: Each camper will step outside of their comfort zone, which will increase their willingness to change and face challenges in other life situations. Each camper can also observe the actions of their peers in a safe and meaningful way.
G: Campers will have the opportunity to work in small groups during cookouts while they plan, prepare, and clean up after the meal as a group with each camper taking on different roles.
A: Counselors will take care to give each camper a unique, vital role to the group’s functioning. Each and every camper will be given a responsibility and role to play to ensure the communal vitality of the experience.
O: Each camper will understand the importance of group work and cooperation in other places in life, especially in situations where group work is a prerequisite of all activity.
G: Campers will learn at least one new skill while at camp.
A: Counselors and program staff will place campers in new learning situations while teaching them the proper skills needed to achieve particular outcomes. Staff will also need to be clear to communicate with each camper in a way that gets to know how the respective camper might be willing to get out of their comfort zone.
O: Campers will feel more self-confident about their personal abilities and feel more comfortable about trying new things. They can also begin to discern their own gifts and abilities, particularly in the light of new situations.
G: Each camper will participate each session in at least one role as a leader, cleaner, or facilitator of a particular camp activity.
A: Counselors will take care to place each camper in a situation where they can lead either by example or active facilitation. Staff also allow campers to suggest ways in which they might lead throughout the week, or based on a previous year’s experience.
O: Campers will feel more ready to seek out leadership roles and positions.
G: The camper will be provided opportunities that stimulate the development of each camper’s self-esteem.
A: All staff will give significant amounts of positive reinforcement and physical approval (hugs, handshakes, pats on the back) in order to make the camper feel loved and approved. They will also get to the know the camper’s story, to hear who they are as well as the things in their lives that have made them who they are today.
O: Different opportunities will afford the camper with a greater sense of self, which will bolster their self-esteem in other areas of life. We also want the campers to feel listened to and loved by mentors.
G: Each camper will live in a group with other campers either in cabins or tents. Within these groups, campers will be part of community decision-making and keeping the area clean.
A: Counselors and family group leaders will help the group to be a cohesive, loving body by giving positive reinforcement to all situations and encouraging all cabin members to give their opinion and insight.
O: Campers will understand the importance of group decision-making in their everyday lives, and take care to mind the decisions of the group.
G: All who visit or stay at CLS will participate safely in all camp activities and living situations.
A: Staff will take care to articulate and enforce – both to the summer camp and all retreat groups – the camp rules, emergency procedures, operating procedures, and required ratios. Staff will be reminded by the Program Director on a daily basis to remember to be safe in following the rules and procedures.
O: All who visit or stay at CLS will feel safe during their time here; no misunderstandings or poor applications of rules will occur because of the clarity with which CLS staff presents and explains the camp rules, emergency procedures, operating procedures, and required ratios. Staff, campers, and guests will understand the risks of being at camp, and will appreciate the challenge without fear but with great caution.
3. Teach Creation Care & Appreciation
Goals, Actions, and Outcomes
G: Each camper will attend at least one campfire and one nature hike during his or her stay at camp.
A: All staff will establish programming opportunities in the schedule to build a safe campfire for the campers to enjoy. All campers will get to spend time outdoors and learn about the camp’s natural history and habitat.
O: The campfire and hike will help the camper to understand the beauty of the outdoors, which will then help establish a respect for all of God’s creation.
G: Each camper will have the opportunity to participate in a nature activity, in addition to the nature session, which could include one of the following: hiking, environmental activities, or other appropriate activity.
A: All staff will take care to facilitate participation in nature activities, letting each cabin or family group decide some of their own activities.
O: Each camper will learn the importance of caring for creation because they will have a heightened experience and appreciation for it.
G: At the beginning of each session, the campers will discuss as a group the importance of taking care of their camp and the type of things that they need to do such as picking up litter, staying on trails, not picking flowers, respecting property (no graffiti), and conserving water.
A: Program staff and counselors will articulate to the campers the importance of environmental responsibility through their physical actions at camp. Staff will make sure that the campers will be able to associate how their actions will reflect what they do when they go home.
O: Each camper will be more cognizant of their physical effect on the environment, and the residual effects of their actions on the natural world.
G: Campers and staff will participate in recycling of materials such as aluminum cans, plastic bottles, cardboard, and paper.
A: All staff will be exemplary recyclers in all facets of programming. There will be recycling bins located throughout the camp property, and campers will play a key role in making sure that things are recycled at camp.
O: Because camp is a place to learn new and fun habits, the campers will also view recycling as a means of living faithfully in the world and will carry their habits home to persuade their household to recycle when they leave.
G: Each volunteer group will be encouraged to perform a service at camp such as picking up litter, cleaning the trails and roads, recycling, erosion control, and trail development.
A: Permanent staff will help coordinate groups to participate in the environmental stability and sustainability of CLS through the planning and systemization of environmental standards.
O: Retreat groups will understand the importance of not only working on the aesthetic appearance of the CLS campus, but also the importance of working towards the environmental stability and sustainability of the camp.
4. Nurture Christian Faith & Discipleship
Goals, Actions, and Outcomes
G: Each camper will experience Christian community and love throughout the camp week, in all activities and groups.
A: All staff will have positive and loving attitudes when interacting with one another and the campers. Staff will make every effort to get to know their campers by encouraging and listening, while also recognizing what each camper offers to the group.
O: Campers will begin to understand the importance of living in a holistic, loving, and Christian community in what is often a secular culture.
G: Each camper will listen and have the opportunity to discuss their daily devotions.
A: All staff will facilitate and moderate discussions in a positive and empathetic manner. Staff will set up a hospitable setting in which campers can share their stories in a loving and caring way.
O: Campers will begin to understand the importance of having a living faith that is embodied in living, talking, and listening to other Christians and non-Christians to achieve a harmonious, loving balance in the home that they return to.
G: Each camper will participate in nature activities and events out-of-doors multiple times each day at camp.
A: All staff will be exemplary in their enthusiasm for the outdoors, while invigorating the campers in their own love of nature.
O: Campers will begin to see “nature” not as a separate entity in the world, but as part of God’s loving creation that needs care and responsibility from humanity in order to survive and thrive.
G: Each camper – through time spent in devotion and time with their counselors and family group – will begin to see growth points in their own faith life.
A: Counselors will spend time planning their devotions and be intentional in facilitating faithful conversation with campers in all facets of their life. Staff can also continue these conversations with the camper after they leave the camp setting through letters and communication.
O: Campers will begin to make better decisions in their life when they return home that better serve those around them with love and Christian integrity.
G: Each camper will have the opportunity to share with their family group their own faith journeys and growth points.
A: Counselors will offer time for sharing and discussion in family group situations where all have a chance to enter the group conversation.
O: Campers can begin to grasp some notions of faithful accountability, and the necessity for groups to nurture one another in Christian love and hope.
G: Each staff member will have the opportunity to nurture Christian discipleship through devotions, group time, and one-on-one conversations.
A: Program staff will insure to build in schedule time that allows for devotions, group time, and one-on-one conversations; counselors will take care to see that scheduled time is filled with meaningful intentionality in all allotted places.
O: Counselors and staff will begin to understand “salvation” in a new light, not as a desired immediate goal, but rather the end of a thoughtful process that they help to facilitate with love, care, and exemplary actions.
G: The staff will have the opportunity to grow together as a Christian community through constant growth discussions and evaluations.
A: Permanent staff and program staff will meet periodically both with one another and summer staff, discussing growth points and positive occurrences.
O: Staff will grow closer together as both a functioning programming outlet and the Body of Christ in order to nurture Christian community amongst themselves and the campers. We also want our campers to feel at home at CLS, where they can grow in their faith, attitudes, and personality over a number of years.
G: Guest groups and retreat groups will focus on different aspects of Christian lifestyle, community, and clergy responsibility throughout the camp year.
A: Permanent staff will allow all guest groups to develop their own program aspects, while offering assistance when needed. Guest groups will have the opportunity to thrive in their own set-apartness and appropriate gifts/graces along the way.
O: Each retreat group will facilitate their own respective growth, which will be aided by the very place and ethos that pervades CLS. Staff will also do all that they can to love and support the groups by providing excellent hospitality and support during the group’s stay.
5. Develop Christian Spiritual Leaders
Goals, Actions, and Outcomes
G: Each camper will have the opportunity to be spiritually nourished through daily devotions, praise and worship, meditation, and holy conversation.
A: Program staff will built time into the daily schedule for devotions, music, and quiet time; counselors will help to facilitate the schedule and assist the campers in developing their own respective habits, while also providing a safe place for conversation in the cabin.
O: Campers will understand the importance of discovering and prioritizing daily spiritual practices, in order to incorporate an embodied Christian lifestyle.
G: Each camper will participate in daily devotions and praying within their cabins, in order to provide their spiritual sustainability.
A: Program staff will build time into the daily schedule for devotions and prayer; counselors will take initiative to help their campers to pray and care for his or her spirituality.
O: Campers will sustain or incorporate habits of praying into their life to help their own spirituality.
G: Each camper will experience the love of God through the glory of God’s creation.
A: All staff will articulate – at numerous times – the splendor and majesty of God’s creation amidst CLS.
O: Campers can appreciate and love the sights and beauty of CLS and apply it to their love of other outdoor places.
G: Each camper will begin to understand the connections of how they live in the world with their Christian identity.
A: Program staff and counselors will reinforce critical thinking by asking their campers how they might live better, while giving their own exemplary actions as testament to positive Christian identity.
O: Campers will connect the decisions and actions they take with their faith in order to live as Christ in the world.
G: Each camper will understand the importance of their actions in the world, and their significance for the salvation of the world.
A: All staff will articulate the need for campers to live well and do good in the world through devotions, conversations, and one-on-one time.
O: Campers will begin to see that they have both the capability and drive to change not only their household, but the very world around them. Staff will maintain connections with the campers in a good, positive way so that the campers can stay connected to a fruitful mentoring process that can benefit them over a number of years.
6. Partner with Local Churches, Groups, & UM Agencies
Goals, Actions, and Outcomes
G: Each church, group, or UM group will feel at home at Camp Lake Stephens.
A: Full-time staff will seek to maintain hospitable and welcoming attitudes when working with guest groups throughout the year.
O: The radical hospitality of Camp Lake Stephens will reinforce the love we feel for all who enter our gates.
G: CLS will partner with local churches to provide them a place to partner and exchange ideas, as well as grow in cooperation and accountability.
A: Permanent staff will reach out to local churches and coordinate with them times of meeting and plans for action. Staff will build relationships with church and group leaders to continue connection and transformation throughout the process.
O: Local churches will see CLS as a place of refuge and growth, and feel comfortable with it as a retreat center.
G: CLS will reach out to local communities during each summer session, with the assistance of local churches and UM agencies in order to provide people with aesthetic assistance, maintenance, and hospitality. In times of emergency, CLS will offer special emergency assistance to those in need of it.
A: Permanent staff and program staff will coordinate with local churches and agencies to help folks in need for the senior high mission week.
O: Local communities and churches will look to CLS for help and assistance during times of need. Entities such as FEMA, ARC, UM disaster response, and others can look to CLS for help and hospitality.
G: CLS will work with the MS Annual Conference to offer semi-annual retreats and conference offerings.
A: Permanent staff will plan and coordinate retreats with the intent of group fluidity and well-planned, intentional programming.
O: CLS will embody the connectionalism of pan-Methodism and encourage connection-wide participation.
7. Inspire all Guests and Groups for Love & Service
Goals, Actions, and Outcomes
G: All guests and groups of Camp Lake Stephens will observe the lifestyle and ethos of the place and will emulate that when they return to their respective homes and churches.
A: All staff will take care to be ambassadors of Christ, sharing goodwill and positive attitudes to all; exemplary lifestyles are expected of all staff.
O: All who visit Camp Lake Stephens will recognize the place as an embodied Christian community that accentuates the positive identities of the Christian lifestyle for all communities.
G: All guests – no matter race, creed, gender, or ethnicity – will be welcome at CLS.
A: All staff will treat all who visit Cedar Crest with the same love and respect given to others, without exception.
O: Any retreat group will feel welcome to come to CLS and return when possible.
G: Guests and groups will see CLS as a purveyor of pertinent information to embodying particular aspects of the Christian lifestyle, such as living well, caring for the natural world, and providing service and mission to those in need.
A: Permanent staff will take care to have pertinent information on hand concerning the activities that occur at camp, while staying committed to effectively explaining the mission and focus of CLS programming.
O: Guests and groups will see a way to plug themselves in to their own local churches and communities as a part of the connected worldwide Methodist church and the Body of Christ.
Camp Lake Stephens, a United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center, is committed to being a place where children, youth, and adults can encounter God and respond in faith to God’s call to transform the world.