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ADVOCATE Upper New York

A publication of the Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church A publication of the Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

Camp and Retreat Ministries: Transforming lives one camper at a time


CAMP CULTURE 101 Veteran campers know there is a culture to camp: a secret song, a joint prayer, a multi-step handshake. Want to know more? Look for “Camp Culture 101” briefs throughout this issue.



A FAMILY AFFAIR Whether she was cleaning or conversing with nature, Jennie Mantle always sensed God’s presence at Aldersgate.


BECAUSE OF CAMP ... How would you finish that statement? Read what these fellow camp and retreat participants had to say.


PROFOUND IMPACT For the Rev. Nancy Adams, each week at camp brings at least one unexpected and profound experience.


A WALKING BILLBOARD According to one pastor, the best advertising for camp is a youth who has already been to camp.


PRESERVING MEMORIES For Peg Shields, donating to Casowasco is a way of preserving the place that has meant so much to her family over the years.


RARE OPPORTUNITY A week at summer camp is a rare opportunity for the children served by the Rescue Mission. 2 UNY ADVOCATE 2016, Issue 2

Campers at the Sky Lake Camp & Retreat Center in Windsor enjoy a nighttime campfire under a canopy of stars.

FROM the PUBLISHER The gift of camp



sk a gathering of clergy where they first felt their call to ministry, and many will tell you it was at a United Methodist camp. But, it’s not just clergy that have life-changing experiences at camp. Every year, hundreds of young people and families go deeper spiritually and have formative experiences in the beautiful camp settings in Upper New York. There is truly something to be said for being surrounded by God’s glory and being away from the daily distractions that often make it hard to hear God’s call. When most people hear the word “camp,” it brings back fond childhood memories of summer camp. Of course, Upper New York Conference Camp & Retreat Ministries (CRM) offers much more than this experience. However, with summer approaching and the camp season gearing up, this issue of the Advocate will focus mostly on the summer camp experience, with other aspects of CRM to be explored in future Conference communications. This issue of the Advocate will feature personal stories and testimonies about how camp changes lives and why it serves such an important role in spiritual formation and leadership development. It will paint a picture of what local churches and individuals get when camp is supported. Perhaps most importantly, this issue will explore why CRM is so adept at helping individuals grow in their faith journey. As summer approaches, lives are about to be changed at Upper New York Conference camps, just as lives are changed every year. There are amazing stories to hear! Stephen J. Hustedt, Editor/Publisher

On the cover A Bible verse is read during an evening campfire worship. All photos in this issue are courtesy the Upper New York Conference’s Camp & Retreat Ministries. Follow us online:

Upper New York

Vol. 8, Issue 2

Upper New York Area

BISHOP MARK J. WEBB Resident Bishop (315) 422-5027


Weekly Digest



UNY Director of Communications (315) 424-7878 x307

Administrative Assistant to the Director (315) 424-7878 x304

Graphic Designer

Social Media/Web



Communications Associate (315) 424-7878 x313

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Special thanks to CRM Director Mike Huber and CRM Executive Assistant Joan Newlon for their assistance to this issue. The Advocate is a publication of the

324 University Ave., 3rd Floor, Syracuse, NY 13210 (855) 424-7878  The Upper New York United Methodist Advocate is a publication of the Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church, whose mission is to be God’s love with all our neighbors in all places. Materials in the Advocate may not be reproduced unless the item is accompanied by a copyright notation. Periodicals postage paid at Utica, New York 13504; USPS 14025. Subscriptions: $15 per year paid in advance to 324 University Ave., 3rd floor, Syracuse, NY 13210; or call (855) 424-7878; or visit Postmaster: send address changes to Upper New York United Methodist Advocate, 324 University Ave., 3rd floor, Syracuse, NY 13210. We reserve the right to edit or decline any items submitted for publication.

Because of Camp & Retreat Ministry, I ... T

he history of Camp & Retreat Ministry of The United Methodist Church is rich and filled with testimonies of lives changed by the amazing grace of God offered to and working through people of all ages and stages of life. Amazing things happen at camp and retreat settings around the world. Because of Camp & Retreat Ministry, individuals have heard the good news of the Gospel and placed their faith in the saving work of Jesus. Because of Camp & Retreat Ministry, men, women, young adults, youth, and children have gone deeper into what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in word and action. Because of Camp & Retreat Ministry, many who have served our churches as clergy heard and responded to their call to ministry. Because of Camp & Retreat Ministry, faithful laity have recognized the gifts for ministry given by the Holy Spirit and have decided to go deeper in the use of those gifts. Because of Camp & Retreat Ministry, lifelong friendships are formed; learning how to live in Christian community is modeled, taught, and caught; understanding our call to be good stewards of the whole of God’s creation is practiced and understood. I could go on and on regarding the impact spending time in a camp and retreat setting affords. Perhaps the best word I can share is the impact Christian camping had upon my own life. It was at Central Oaks Height in Milton, Pa., attending a junior high camp as a seventh grader that I heard the Gospel message, placed my faith in Jesus Christ, and made the decision to say “yes” to Jesus as my Savior and Lord. As an eighth and ninth grader at that same camp, I continued to build upon the foundation of the faith decision I made and grew in my understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ and a member of God’s body. Throughout my high school years, as a junior counselor, and college years, as a counselor at both United Methodist and Mennonite camp settings, the foundation of my spiritual formation continued to be built upon, and I was given leadership opportunities that brought understanding to the gifts God had given for me for mission and ministry. While my call to pastoral ministry came through a college ministry setting, my experiences at camp, prepared my spiritual ears to hear the voice of God and my heart and mind to find the courage to say “yes.” As a young pastor, I was given the opportunity to serve as the

director of a junior high camp for one week each summer, which continued to change my life for 16 years. Because of Camp & Retreat Ministry, I am who I am today. In Upper New York, our Camp & Retreat Ministry offers the very same things I was offered. Through these ministries that we support, individuals are hearing of God’s love for them and making a faith choice to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of their lives. People are going deeper in their discipleship journey, discovering the many ways God has gifted them and is calling them to be in ministry and mission to the world around them. I am so appreciative of the dedicated staff, led by our Director of Camp & Retreat Ministry, Mike Huber, who provides leadership to this vital ministry in Upper New York. I am awed by the summer counselors and countless volunteers who offer their lives, that thousands may be transformed each year by God because of their experience at one of our camp and retreat settings. I am overwhelmed to hear the stories of congregations and individuals raising funds to provide scholarships that anyone might have a chance to attend church camp. I am excited when I hear how someone took the time to invite someone else to give a week of camp or a weekend retreat a try. Our Camp & Retreat Ministry touches every area of our ministry together in Upper New York. Often, they complement, and frequently, they lead and teach us as we seek to live our mission “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Evangelism, Christian education, hospitality, leadership development, worship, spiritual formation, outreach, giving, and many more expressions of the ways the Church is called to equip the saints of God, happens through the Camp & Retreat Ministry of Upper New York. I hope you will spend time reading through this issue of the Advocate that recognizes the amazing things that God has done and is doing through the Camp & Retreat Ministry of the Upper New York Conference. I invite you to join me in praying for this powerful ministry we share. I hope you will find a way to join in the effort, whether it is by volunteering, offering financial support, attending a camp or retreat yourself, or by inviting another to give it a try. Because of Camp & Retreat Ministry, the Church’s present and future vitality and our mission to assist others to know the love of Jesus, so that the world might be transformed through God’s power is amazing! Thanks be to God!

e h T ? p m a c Why : e b d l u o h s n questio ? p m a c t o n Why


At camp, young people have the mental room to consider some of the most important issues of life. This break from the craziness of their regular routine allows campers to think about their future, evaluate unhealthy patterns, and discover the truth that there is a God, God loves them, and God wants a relationship with them.

By Mike Huber

and Casowasco. I was a summer staff member at two Mennonite camps while in college; and as a professional camp and retreat staff member, I have listened to, prayed with and walked with many who, through the transformative power of Christ have been renewed and changed through camp. I am one of those lives. – Transformed lives I still remember the warm, genuine smile of my first counselor at camp. I can remember him sitting and listening to me when I explained where I was from and the family I was a part of. I confess I don’t remember his name but I remember his welcoming, caring spirit and the influence he had on my life. While supervising camp staff, I have heard from parents for many years what the impact of a caring staff or volunteer mentor has had on their child. Whether a young adult or seasoned veteran, adult mentors are the hands, smile, and feet of Christ. – Adult mentors My parents were committed to giving my brother and I experiences outside in nature. We lived in a neighborhood that had a lot of kids and we were outside all the time and seemed to live outside in the summer months. We camped in tents and later upscaled to a pop up camper throughout childhood. It was, however, at Aldersgate where I united the love of outdoors to the One that created it all. God’s wondrous works speak to me in a way that brings the Bible to life. – Nature and adventure My best friends are from two timeframes in my life – time spent attending and working at Camp and friends from my College Camp Staff days. Two of my leadership mentors, now in their eighties, met while working at camp and both share that throughout their life of ministry the constant has been their camp connection. Numerous people share that their best friends or spouses were met at camp. – Lifelong friendships Individuals that come to camp for a week of camp and/or a retreat experience form a community that is intensified by living together, breaking bread together, playing together and worshiping together in creation. The shared experience, exploration and learning that happens in this community lasts well beyond the temporary time together at one of our centers. Some reunited years later, some annually and some weekly in service. Faith communities formed at camp are powerful because individuals have met Christ in


According to researchers, kids spend on average less than 40 minutes in meaningful conversation with their parents each week. At camp, caring adults, counselors, and mentors come alongside campers, helping them think through decisions and experiences in a way that will prepare them for their future.


Our facilities are set in some of the most beautiful spots on the continent. Campers explore nature, participate in new adventures, and test their limits in a healthy environment surrounded by the grandeur of God’s creation.


Good friends who exert positive peer pressure can make all the difference in a kid’s life. Friendships with caring adults and other campers, forged through shared experience and the compressed time at camp, can last a lifetime and provide a connection that helps young people navigate the challenges of life.


In a setting separate from their daily routine, with an opportunity to shed the expectations and pressures of others, campers are free to truly be themselves, to live above artificial limitations, and blossom into who they were created to be.

one another and leave empowered to serve and witness to others. – Temporary Community Now more than ever it is critical that we provide places and experiences for children, youth, families and adults to learn or be reminded that there is a God, God loves them and God wants a relationship with them. Mike Huber is the Director of Camp & Retreat Ministries for 5 the Upper New York Conference.

Graphic text adapted from, 2016

ver my 47 years of life I have seen numerous examples of lives transformed by experiences O at a camp. I was a family camper at Aldersgate

Aldersgate Camp & Retreat Center a family affair for the Mantles By Jennie Mantle

ohn and I grew up in The United Methodist Church, J– including so it seems like camp has always existed. His family his grandfather, the Rev. Miles Hutchinson –

encouraged attendance, so John was at camp every year from the time he was eligible at 10 years old until he was 17, the summer between his junior and senior years of high school. John looks back at it now as “a time apart for valuable personal growth and networking with likeminded people.” The children in my family – an older brother and a younger sister – were sponsored by our church, with the most notable encouragement of Kenneth Lamb and Marion Stevens, Sunday school teachers as well as the principal and English teacher at our school, respectively. Though a bit fearful at first, I was excited to attend because of my brother’s stories of the fun he had at camp. This was the first time I had ever been with so many people who knew Jesus personally and wanted to introduce the two of us. I fell in love with Him right away. He didn’t care that I was fat, ugly, and ashamed of some things I had done. He accepted me, loved me, and offered to come and live in my heart forever if I invited Him in. It was, and is, awesome! While at camp, I felt safe and motivated to read the Bible and follow Jesus. I didn’t feel called to become a

missionary in Africa, but I definitely wanted to continue my personal relationship with Jesus and live in a way that pleased Him. He is not just a holy Being who lives at church and is unapproachable; He lives in the pine trees, houses, and school. And being a Christian is a lot of fun – it’s not just sitting quietly in a church while everyone else has fun. I’m not sure how many times I went to camp, maybe three. I have a picture of the group of about 200 people in 1966 when I was 14. Ma Richardson, my first cabin counselor, and Program Dean Ron Short, are in that picture. I remember feeling loved, valued, confident, and secure. Seeing some other kids back home later was a reminder of the promises we made in the pine trees when Jesus whispered our names. Camp saved my life. When our children, Brian “Mick” and Benjamin, were old enough to go to camp, we naturally made sure that they had that opportunity. Their experiences were much like ours, and it is a bond that we share. It has been said about the Grand Canyon, “If you haven’t been there, no words can adequately describe it. And if you have been there, no words are needed.” Mick says it’s the same for camp. And then it was time for Mick’s son, Logan, to go to

“Camp saved my life.”

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camp. His experiences started much earlier than ours because of Guardians and Angels camp and the threeday camps for the younger kids. He has enjoyed the grand spiritual walk that camp offers eight times. No matter where he was living or with whom, camp was stable and something he could count on for respite, acceptance, familiarity, stability, and connecting with his Jesus. In March 2006, I attended a lay servants’ retreat at camp, and the old memories came flooding back. Jesus talks to adults at Camp, too. Even fat, ugly adults who are ashamed of some things they have done ... The Sulphur Springs United Methodist Church provides full scholarships for any child who wants to go to camp, and John and I have actively supported that effort, assuming that it would always be there. We were unaware that such serious financial difficulties existed at camp until February 2015, when we attended the informational meeting in Watertown. (See the graphic at right for a breakdown of giving in 2015.) That was a wake-up call for us, and John and I pledged to do all we could to support camp’s continued existence for generations to come. At the Mother’s Day brunch in May 2015, we met Shari Mudge and caught her passion for how camp could be with some tender loving care. When she learned that John would be willing to help clear trees at the camp, that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship for our whole family. Mick, Logan, and John cleaned up the grounds by cutting countless trees, splitting the wood, placing it in various campfire sites, and toting the brush to the brush piles. They had the privilege of working with Donn much of the time, and shared a lot of laughs. From wood cutting, we “branched out” to moving refrigerators, pianos, or logs, a little plumbing, landscaping, and cleaning cabins and bath houses. “John and Donn. Big Guy. Little Guy. No job is too big or too small. Give us a call.” And the chapel became a labor of love, with cleaning, building a new landing and steps, installing new lights, repairing wood trim, and painting – lots of painting. It is exciting to have been a part of the preparation

for the upcoming wedGifts to Camp & Retreat Ministry in 2015 ding. What a transformation has taken place in the chapel in the pines. God will surely use it in a mighty way to further His kingdom. Always, for me, whether on my knees in a bath house, on the carpet in the chapel, or painting on a ladder outside the chapel while conversing with the red squirrel in the pines, I sensed God’s presence. well, and he is pleased that fruits of Just like the first time I met Him at his labors are playing a part in maincamp. For Mick and his 17-year-old taining the facilities for the benefit of Logan, it has been precious time future campers. He feels that a whole together getting tired and dirty with PaPa John, and making a difference in series of life events lined up to bring about our family’s involvement, and it a place they all hold near and dear to is certainly rewarding. their hearts. We pledge to continue to spread John says he has experienced a the word about all that camp has to rebirth, a sense of purpose in his reoffer and to use our abilities in whattirement years. God has blessed him ever way God leads us. with the ability to do some things

CAMP CULTURE 101 Walter Stacy, service manager at the Aldersgate Camp & Retreat Center from 1965-1980, remembered playing the ring and hook game as a child, probably on the farm in Phelps, where he spent some of his early teen years. Sometime in the late ’60s, he saw the game again, remembered how much fun it was when he was a kid, and thought the campers (and staff) at Aldersgate would like it, too. He constructed the first one on a tree just outside the dining hall so campers waiting to go in before the meals would have something more to do. It became such a success that a second one soon appeared. Thirty or so years later, the trees were removed, and the ring and hook game disappeared. Last summer the ring and hook game returned to the edge of the bank down to the lake near the porch of Walker Dining Room, a welcome sight to many. How to make your own ring and hook game: Pick a good tree that has branches that are about 8 feet off the ground. Tie a ring (about 1.5-inch diameter) to a string or thin rope then

tie this to a branch of the tree at least four feet from the tree’s trunk. Note: The string should be just long enough to be able to reach the hook. Put the hook (a screw hook) into the side of the tree trunk – or it can be directly on the front of the tree trunk – at about eye level.

Rules: The game has very few rules. Swing the ring until it catches on the hook. Take turns. Have fun, but don’t forget to go in to the dining room and eat when it’s time! 7

I experienced God speaking through me for the first time; although I know now God had been speaking through me all my life except I was not ready to hear God. – JOAN DUNN I found my value is defined by the love of God, not by the world. – KELSEY ROSENBLUM I found God, heard God’s calling for me, and discovered who I really am and where I belong. – IAIN COCKRAM I was able to truly be myself for 10 weeks of the year and grow relationships with friends, family and God like I never thought was possible. – DANIELLE WILLIS I found Christ and learned to love myself. Grew to be a better man in God’s image. – SHAWN RYAN MULHERON I am able to serve those that need me, without fear, and always in love. – SONRISA CORTES I am more confident in myself and in what I can do to better my community. – BRYAN MULHERON I realized that people do like me for me.


I can help kids connect to God and other kids in meaningful ways. – HAILEY THOMPSON I gave my life to Christ and met my wife!


My faith became a personal relationship rather than a set of religious rules. And I met my husband.


I met my wife, raised my kids in a great Godly community, and grew the congregation I was appointed to! – BILL MUDGE I had a place to be, which gave me purpose in a very dark point of my life that I otherwise may have not returned from.


I can play guitar! Which is currently one of the main ways I serve God and share His love. – ERINN GOULD NORRIS My faith began as a camper and was shaped as an adult. I would not be the daughter, friend, wife, mother, and camp program director I am today without the power of Camp and Retreat Ministry. – SHELBY WILSON I first believed in God! 8 UNY ADVOCATE 2016, Issue 2


... my children have found a safe place to step out of their comfort zones and have been shown God’s healing power in nature. – BETH MCNEIL BOLTON I found the place where I feel closest to God. Truly sacred ground. – DENNIS SPILMAN I found my true self and shaped myself as an educator.


I have some great childhood memories!


I am still close friends with a girl I met there 51 years ago.


We met great people like Pat and Mike there! Loved our camp time! – LUCILLE WINSLOW We smile more, know some cool camp songs and met many wonderful campers. We love the Skye Farm Camp and Retreat Center. … We also feel closer to God there. – PAT-

MIKE O’CONNOR THOMAS I have more friends.


My children came closer to God.


I have a relationship with Christ and met my hubby of almost 25 years! – SHAWN SWEENEY SCHULTZ I found my true passion as a person that serves people.

– JARRED EGNEW I am a leader.


God showed me a greater purpose.

– CYNTHIA SCHOPFER LANGFORD I found God and was able to be myself and feel accepted and loved by God and those around me.

– CHRISTINA MARIE I met my best friends.


My connection to god is stronger than ever before.


I made wonderful life-long friends.


God uses camp staff and campers to teach life lessons By the Rev. Nancy Adams


y first experience at the Sky Lake Camp & Retreat Center was as a camper when I was 12 years old. It was the first time I had ever been away from my family and was not at least with a grandparent. I went with a friend, although he was in a different cabin/family group. I had a great time! Our cabin challenged another cabin to a canoe race, and we won (with six of us kneeling in the canoe paddling with our hands). I can’t remember why I didn’t go the next year, but I did go as a 14-year-old, and when I was 15, became an “aide,” now called SNAP (Special Needs Assistant Personnel). I had a tough decision to make the next year, as the week I wanted to sign up for (to be an aide again) was also the week of Empire Girls’ State, as I was the one from my high school chosen for this honor. I went to Girls’ State, and while I was able to go Sky Lake for retreats, it turned out to be 10 years until I would be back for a week in the summer. By then, I was a special education teacher and was asked to direct a mini-special needs camp. Having not been there in the summer for so long, I asked if I could get reacquainted with the summer program by counseling at a special needs camp prior to directing my own. That request was enthusiastically granted. I have directed or counseled for a week every summer since 1985 – except for 1990, when I began as a full-time pastor, and 2014, when I was moving to the Mountain View District to become superintendent.

I directed a three-day winter special needs camp in 1990 since I wasn’t going to be there that summer. Camp is addictive! Much of my leadership development has come as a result of my experiences at Sky Lake, as I came up through the ranks of camper, aide (junior counselor), counselor, director, and co-director. In addition to leadership development, my life has been profoundly impacted by my experiences at Sky Lake. I have at least one unexpected, profound experience each week of camp. One year, when Christian clowns acted out the story of the Good Samaritan, it left one of the clowns “beaten up” and on the ground. A non-verbal camper got up from his seat, visibly upset, and went over and knelt down to help the person on

DID YOU KNOW? In 2015: 2,768 campers visited one of Upper New York’s six Camp & Retreat centers 962 campers were first-time attendees

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the ground. There wasn’t a dry eye. I will never forget that. Don’t try to tell me he didn’t get it! He got it! It’s the rest of us that need help getting the point. As a counselor, just days after I was ordained a deacon after my middle year of seminary, God used one of the campers to teach me one of the most profound lessons of my life – ask me sometime! Volunteer counselors often ask if they can counsel again, and that happened again this year. By the way, my camp is July 17-22, and as always, we’re looking for volunteers – especially males. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience. There’s a lot to learn from the campers; you won’t be sorry! The Rev. Nancy Adams is the Mountain View District Superintendent.

Camp scholarships a priority for Sherburne First UMC By Terry McNeil


ver the years, I have personally witnessed many youth – including my two daughters – have great experiences and “God moments” from attending camps of the Upper New York Conference. The Sherburne First United Methodist Church is located in a small, rural village in Central New York. We have on average 40 to 50 people in attendance weekly for Sunday worship. We are proud to say we sent eight youth (four from one family) to camps this past summer. They attended Sky Lake, Skye Farm, Aldersgate, and Casowasco Camp & Retreat centers.

The Sherburne First UMC has sent kids to camp for at least 15 years. The church’s campership fund – named after Josh Webb, a young man who loved camp and died at a young age from leukemia – is the main monetary source for the camp scholarships. Each year, the church hosts a bake sale and Josh’s father matches the funds that are raised during the sale. The Rev. George Gallandorm, pastor at the Sherburne UMC, said the best advertising for camp is a kid who has been to camp. “I’ve seen kids come back who want to come up during worship service to sing a camp song who have never been involved with worship

before,” he said. “You’ve got to see a kid see his first year, or make ice cream for the first time, or have some structure in the day when they might not have structure at home … It’s just wonderful to see kids experience things and to be who God meant them to be.” You can see and feel the excitement of the youth in going and coming back from camp, bubbling over with enthusiasm and sharing their experiences. They truly have felt Christ’s love in these beautiful camps. Another blessing from God that enriches our church and community. Kyle Terry McNeil is the treasurer at the Sherburne First UMC.

CAMP CULTURE 101 One of the mainstays at Casowasco for the last 25 years has been the “Chocolate Pudding Cheer.” This cheer is eagerly-anticipated by campers every week. Chocolate pudding is typically served as the dessert on Friday’s lunch – the last meal – and is one of the last things campers experience together. The cheer is led by a staff member with a big stainless steel bowl and a large spoon (see photo at

left), and it goes like this: Everyone repeat after me! Get a big spoon! Get a big bowl! Get a big spoon, big bowl – BOOM! BOOM! Get a big spoon, bigger than a big bowl! BOOM! Get a big bowl, bigger than a big spoon! Keebo, kaibo, sys-boom-ba – Chocolate Pudding, RA, RA, RA!

... that the lighted cross in the Lakeview Chapel window at the Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center helped guide airline pilots before the commonplace use of radar. Its bright beacon was a sign that the pilots were almost to their destination, even in difficult weather. The legend may have some truth to it, as the cross in the chapel window is quite bright when lit. However, at any sizable altitude that light would surely not be needed and would be overshadowed by other well-known markers for a commercial pilot. 11

Why I chose to donate to the Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center By Peg Shields

the mid-1950s, fellow Carnegie Mellon University Ithenstudent Bob Shields and I joined other Methodists from Northeastern Jurisdiction for a conference in a re-

mote area of Central New York. We had never heard of “Casowasco on Owasco Lake.” During that first week, I had a “mountaintop experience ... a recommitment of my religious faith.” Bob and I were married after graduation. We began our ongoing relationship with Casowasco when we settled in Syracuse permanently after a favorite professor at Carnegie Mellon suggested Bob interview at Syracuse Research Corporation. He was hired, and in 1958, we moved to Eastwood, joining the James Street Methodist Church. One by one, our five children were born and grew to camp age. For two years, we were in charge of family camp at Casowasco, took Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) students to retreats, and enjoyed stays in Galilee. My parents also fell in love with the grounds, activities, faith, and all of its history. Fast forward to the year 2000. My parents had passed away, just months apart the previous year, and had left a sizeable inheritance for my sister, Jane, and me. They had lived frugally in their 68 years of marriage, helping Jane and me from time to time when the costs of raising a family had become too much. They educated their daughters and provided college funds for their great grandchildren as well. I believe there are no accidents in life, and so on that day in the late summer of 2000 when I experienced the urge to visit Casowasco, I again had that feeling of commitment. This time it had to do with preserving the place that had meant so much to us and our families through the years. I toured a brand new kitchen facility, and in the dining room, I saw a plaque of persons who donated to this wonderful 12 UNY ADVOCATE 2016, Issue 2

place. Among them was George and Grace Vetter, my parents. I think they were trying to tell me something: Live by example! After touring Galilee, my favorite building, I was agonizingly aware of the needs for major renovation of this original home of Ted Case and his family. So, with no strings attached to the money, it was my intent to help bring that building back to the grandeur of the late 1800s, when it was the Case summer home. Galilee had served campers for many years, and was in need of repair and upgrading to consistently attract campers. So, it has been my mission and continues to be so. In summer 2002, Bob and I began a new and exciting adventure with the dedication of Galilee. There is still more to do to complete a wing of Galilee. I hope and pray that there are other persons ready and willing to take up the challenge in Christ’s name. Amen, and thank you, Mom and Dad.

Why I chose to volunteer at the Skye Farm Camp & Retreat Center By BJ Stewart

or the first 15 years of our marriage, I heard countless F stories about the Skye Farm Camp & Retreat Center; my husband attended throughout his childhood and loved

it. Then he had the opportunity to volunteer; he started out as a counselor and then transitioned to directing audio-visual – first photography and then branching to more AV, including computer use. Time marched on, until an Annual Conference session one year when I stood in line for lunch and Harold Shippey suggested that I should direct an EMS camp the following year. I thought he was joking until that fall, when he called to ask what week I wanted to do it. My life was transformed. Bringing teenagers together to learn how to tend to the ill and injured, to be in mission to those in need, it was more than I could have dreamed of. Harold also got me involved in doing relief in the health lodge on the nurse’s day off. I was able to be involved in all the things I loved – children of all ages, emergency care, and nursing – while spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ through my actions and words. Time progressed, and the love for the young people and the staff caused us to spend all our free time volunteering. Bill was a counselor and worked in maintenance, working wherever he was needed. We enjoyed watching the young ones become relaxed, becoming open in their conversation, being changed in their interaction with each other. Phrases like, “I don’t get hit for saying something wrong,” and, “People really do care about me here,” brought tears and joy. Perhaps I can best sum up our feelings through the following words I shared at the end of camp 2015 – my last evening as a staff member at Skye Farm – ones that a new generation will hopefully build upon and make their own story, their own memories: The words Paul spoke to the people of Philippi course through my mind, “Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trig-

ger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.” I would not have traded these years at Skye Farm for anything – except maybe a younger body and mind so I could spend more years here. The years have, of course, had their share of frustrations and disappointments, but all so greatly outweighed by those who walk with us, who show love and concern for not only our campers and their families, but also for those who work side by side with them, going the extra mile when a counselor, life guard, or kitchen worker is tired, sick, or just plain discouraged, people jumping into action without being asked to do anything, people who have heard and respond to God’s call to love one another, to lift one another, to consider the needs of another. Through our summers, we have learned lessons and gained memories. May they go with you, may you bring new ways of loving and caring for others into a world so hurting to know the love of God. Be the hands, the feet, the eyes, the ears, the mouth of God, bringing peace and joy. And through it all, remember to pray for each other, to give thanks for the people in your lives, the ones who walk with you daily and the ones who have walked with you. And friends, you will always be in our prayers and thoughts. We love you! May each of you continue to be filled with love and care and compassion. Be blessed, be a blessing. And so, in closing this chapter as I travel down I-88 heading south, I say, “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sunshine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.” Peace!

Reflection: Family Camp at Skye Farm By Jennifer Williams


t’s really amazing to see people change for the better at family camp at Skye Farm Camp & Retreat Center. Kids enjoy a new sense of freedom and exploration of the outdoors. Parents are able to destress as they give and gain advice from each other. Family camp is about enjoying each other’s company – no matter your age – and the learning and growing that can result. I’ve been blessed to have attended family camp for several years as a camper and as a volunteer. Family camp is a great way to experience the magic of Skye Farm! Jennifer Williams is a retreat participant at Skye Farm Camp & Retreat Center’s Family Camp. 13

Aldersgate Camp & Retreat Center

GPS Location: 7955 Brantingham Road, Greig Founded: June 15, 1948 Size: 200+ acres with views of three lakes Summer Fun: Aldersgate operates a Christian, residential summer camp program serving ages 8-18 and hosts a variety of guest group camp programs. Unique Structure: Chapel in the Pines Formerly the Methodist Protestant Church at the four corners of Brantingham, the chapel was built in 1880 and continued to be active until 1942 when the board dissolved it. It was moved to Aldersgate at the edge of the pines in 1957, where it is today. The chapel not only serves as a worship site, but is a wonderful place to hold Bible study, devotions, discussions, or to spend time in silent meditation. This historic little chapel, with a seating capacity of 50, was renovated and upgraded in 2015, with the vision of becoming a popular wedding destination. Website: Summer Camp Registration: (855) 414-6400 Retreat Registration: (844) 788-2485 14 UNY ADVOCATE 2016, Issue 2

The Aldersgate Camp & Retreat Center main campus is located on a small lake with sandy beaches, large groves of tall pine trees, and acres of flat, sandy land. Aldersgate offers the beauty of nature paired with great camp and retreat facilities. This site boasts more than 200 wooded and open acres with gorgeous views on three Adirondack Lakes. Our History In 1945, the Rev. S. Foster Walker took a map of New York state, located the section for the boundary lines of the former Northern New York Conference and pinpointed the center with a 10-mile radius. He found it included Brantingham Lake and a small lake nearby named Pleasant Lake. Purchased by the incorporated Board of Education of the former NNY Conference in 1946, the King Farm property at Brantingham fulfilled the dream of a place where lives could be changed. The property became Camp Aldersgate. Between 1947 and 1948, the original buildings were erected, including the dining hall and kitchen, cabins, and washhouses in Units A and B. During the summer of 1948, Aldersgate welcomed 804 campers and 142 faculty. Rev. Walker’s report to the Conference that summer stated, “We do not want the camping season to be confined just to the weeks of the summer. There is a real opportunity in the realm of fall and spring camping and ... we expect to be utilizing this period as a part of a new program in camping.” In the years that followed, other buildings were completed, including a women’s staff house, dean’s cabin, staff lounge, infirmary, storage buildings, and the recreation and fellowship hall. In 1960, the men of the Conference presented Aldersgate with the land and property across the main road from the camp with a house for the male members of the summer staff.

Asbury Camp & Retreat Center

GPS Location: 7000 Chapman Ave., Perry Founded: 1957 Size: 60+ acres plus a quarter-mile of shoreline Year-round: Asbury offers a variety of retreat programs year round, in additional to hosting families, children and youth, clergy, and adults who wish to conduct their own retreats, meetings, worship services, and programs. Unique Structure: The Methodist Manor In order to expand the Silver Lake Methodist Institute, the Board of Trustees purchased the adjacent Sutton estate in 1944. Edward Sutton was the founder of the Fro-Joy Ice Cream Company of Buffalo which was later purchased by Sealtest. Sutton’s estate came with a stately three story structure which included 20 rooms, a ballroom, and 32 beds right on Silver Lake. The name of the building was changed to The Methodist Manor and used to house the Institute faculty, students, and paying guests until it was replaced with a new manor that sits adjacent to Koinonia Lodge overlooking the lake. Website: Summer Camp Registration: (855) 414-6400 Retreat Registration: (844) 788-2485

Asbury Camp & Retreat Center is strategically positioned as a retreat center that provides comfortable facilities, amenities, and opportunities for spiritual growth, training, development, and connection that incorporates the beauty of God’s creation. The center offers lodging and dining facilities, meeting spaces and amenities that meet everyone’s retreat needs. Asbury Retreat Center offers Christian hospitality and support for groups to conduct their own retreats, meetings, worship services and program. The Asbury staff assists groups with program planning and reservations, and can partner with organizations to lead retreats or workshops, singing, worship and experiential recreation activities. Our History In 1873 the Genesee Annual Conference of The Methodist Episcopal Church envisioned establishing a camp meeting grounds on the east side of Silver Lake for Methodists to train and teach church groups. People throughout the region traveled to the Silver Lake Methodist Institute. Those from larger cities traveled to the Institute by train. Everyone spent the week sleeping, eating and meeting in tents. As the Institute’s popularity grew people began to invest in permanent structures on holy ground rented from the Institute. In 1957, 60 acres on the south side of the Silver Lake Institute, along with additional adjoining lands, were deeded to the Conference to establish a separate entity called Camp Asbury. Permanent, year round camp and retreat facilities were built. Eventually Camp Asbury became property of the Western New York Conference. Additional facilities were added. The Koinonia Inn was in built 1983. The Willmott Lodge was added in 1991 with a grant from the Willmott Foundation. In 2007 the new Asbury Manor was built, replacing the original Methodist Manor. 15

Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center

GPS Location: 158 Casowasco Drive, Moravia Founded: 1946 Size: 200+ wooded acres, a beautiful gorge, and more than one mile of shoreline on Owasco Lake Unique Structure: Galilee Lodge Galilee, the historic mansion for which Casowasco is best known, was built in 1896, and served as the summer home of Theodore Case. Case, an inventor with more than 60 U.S. patents to his name, is credited with the development of the “thalofide cell,” first used in infrared signaling technology employed by the U.S. Navy during WWI and later used in the film industry for the synchronization of sound and motion picture together on film. He is known informally as the “father of talking movies” and was a major player in the early film industry. Case had a laboratory and screening room at Casowasco, as well as an early hydroelectric plant, the remains of which are still visible along the gorge at the entrance of the property. Website: Summer Camp Registration: (855) 414-6400 Retreat Registration: (844) 788-2485 16 UNY ADVOCATE 2016, Issue 2

The Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center includes more than one mile of shorefront along Owasco Lake in the Finger Lakes region, and features multiple waterfalls inside a beautiful gorge, extensive hiking trails, a train station, and a breathtaking 19th century Victorian mansion. Our History In 1946, the two properties (“camps”) that the former Central New York Conference of The United Methodist Church owned on Lake Ontario and in Pennsylvania were too small and limiting for the programs that were desired. A committee formed to explore options for a centralized facility that was larger than the current properties. Professor Walter Long, a member at the Auburn First UMC, knew Gertrude Case was interested in selling her nearby property known as Casowasco (approximately 80 acres with shorefront), which had been owned by the family for several generations. At the time, the property included, a freshwater stream, a beautifully landscaped delta on which stood three large residences, a barn, a boathouse, a clay tennis court, and a small single lane bowling alley. A railroad, following the path of the old Auburn to Moravia plank road, ran along the shoreline. Long got in touch with the Conference committee, the members of which visited the property in January 1946. At a special session of Annual Conference in February 1946, members voted to purchase the property from Case, who agreed to sell on two conditions: 1) That it retain the name “Casowasco” (a nickname shortened from Case-on-Owasco) and 2) That it be used to serve the high purpose of God. It has done so ever since.

Findley Camp & Retreat Center

GPS Location: 2334 Sunnyside Road, Clymer Founded: 1936 Size: 140+ acres plus 1/4-mile of shoreline Recreational Opportunities: Findley, the oldest of the six centers, has been home to campers and retreat guests for 80 years, providing a home for Family Bible Camp, a summer camp program, and facilities for groups to conduct their own retreats, meetings, and worship services. Unique Structures: Dual Chapels Not one, but two church buildings have been moved from neighboring towns to the Findley site. The first, Goodwill Lodge, the former Goodwill Church from Grand Valley, came to Findley in 1944 and was remodeled into a dormitory building. The second, Carsonville Chapel, came from Pleasantville, Pa., and has been completely renovated. Carsonville Chapel is wired for sound with two large flat panel screens for projection from the loft and is usable year-round thanks to radiant floor heating. Website: Summer Camp Registration: (855) 414-6400 Retreat Registration: (844) 788-2485

Located in the southwest corner of New York on the shores of Findley Lake, the Findley Camp & Retreat Center boasts a variety of facilities to meet everyone’s needs. In addition to the beautiful lakefront, Findley offers level athletic fields, more than 100 wooded acres, and facilities for groups to conduct their own retreats, meetings, worship services, and programs. Our History The Findley Camp & Retreat Center started in 1936, when the Evangelical United Brethren Church bought the 160-acre farm on Findley Lake in the town of Mina. It purchased the property as a place to hold its annual Bible Conference and Leadership Training School for the former Erie Conference. The conference ran for two weeks each summer and featured training for pastors, their families, and other church leaders, including youth. In the beginning years, a large tent was set up to accommodate the large crowds that gathered for the conference. In 1953, the Senior High Youth program became large enough that it had to meet separately from the annual conference meeting. The first Junior-Hi camp program started in 1945 with 145 campers. In 1950, camp for elementary-age children began, with 126 campers in attendance. From there, summer camps for all ages and different kinds of programs took off. While programs have changed and buildings have been built, remodeled, or torn down to meet the changing needs of Findley’s guests, the purpose of the grounds at Findley has remained the same: From the start, it has been a priority at Findley to make sure all programming is Christ-centered. 17

Sky Lake Camp & Retreat Center

GPS Location: 501 William Law Road, Windsor Founded: 1947 Size: 900+ sprawling acres and its own lake Unique Structures: Riley Lodge/Founders’ Lodge In the early 1960s with a growing demand for retreats and conferences in the fall and spring, it was recognized that Sky Lake needed a new winterized facility. Construction of what was to become the present day Riley Lodge began in 1965, with formal ground-breaking ceremonies taking place on Sept. 19, 1965. Riley has served guests well since that time. With new dining facilities becoming a priority, a successful campaign was held and Founders’ Lodge was raised and dedicated in 2003. This state-of-the-art building which seats 200 in Pilgrim Dining Hall boasts a floor-to-ceiling fireplace, two fully-furnished apartments, meeting rooms, a gift shop, and a delightful chapel. Perhaps one of the most popular gathering places of Founders’ Lodge is the massive deck where guests can sit in Adirondack chairs and enjoy a breathtaking view of the lake. Website: Summer Camp Registration: (855) 414-6400 Retreat Registration: (844) 788-2485 18 UNY ADVOCATE 2016, Issue 2

Set on top of Tuscarora Mountain, Sky Lake is a place of relaxation. Retreat to a chair overlooking the picturesque lake or go for a leisurely stroll on one of the trails that meander through the bountiful forests. Sky Lake’s yearround facilities offer the perfect setting for an intimate week-long retreat or a day-long conference for 200 people. In the summer months, it operates as a resident Christian summer camp for children, youth, and persons with special needs. Since 1947, countless religious, educational, nonprofit, and service organizations have found strength for the journey from time spent at Sky Lake. Our History The Rev. Ruth Underwood, then Secretary of the former Wyoming Conference Board of Education, knew that the search was on for a new facility to take the place of the defunct Sidney Grove Camp Meeting grounds and realized immediately that a wonderful opportunity had presented itself. She informed several persons in the conference of the availability of the Sky Lake property, and on a winter day, they labored on foot through deep snow to see the place for themselves. After much prayer, deliberation, and hard work, the Sky Lake property was officially purchased by the Sky Lake Holding Company on March 12, 1947. On April 10, 1947, a motion was unanimously adopted at Annual Conference to purchase the property. Enrollment for summer camp was encouraging that first summer at 582 persons. Over the next few years, 10 additional acres were purchased to provide a ballfield. On May 13, 1950, Bishop Corson presided over a service of dedication of the Sky Lake property. That same year, a gift of was given in memory of Charles McKown, which helped construct the West Shore Camp. McKown Lodge was dedicated on Sept. 28, 1952.

Skye Farm Camp & Retreat Center

GPS Location: 1884 E. Schroon River Road, Warrensburg Founded: 1942 Size: 400+ acres overlooking Sherman Lake Unique Structure: Bass Lodge Bass Lodge was erected in 1976 and named in honor of Rev. Leonard Bass who was the director of youth work in the Troy Conference from 1955-1963. The building was designed to serve as a winter retreat for church groups and also function as the health center for the summer camp program. It is outfitted with a kitchen, two upstairs bedrooms, private nurse bedroom and patient bedroom upstairs as well as a large open living area. Two additional bedrooms are located downstairs along with a bathroom for the use of volunteer and permanent staff members during the summer. Bass Lodge has served Skye Farm well as a retreat lodge and health center for 40 years, and will be renovated in 2016 to become the new year-round welcome center and office. Website: Summer Camp Registration: (855) 414-6400 Retreat Registration: (844) 788-2485

With more than 400 wooded acres and a gorgeous view of Sherman Lake, the Skye Farm Camp & Retreat Center provides facilities for groups to conduct their own retreats, meetings, worship services, and programs. The staff can assist with program planning, guide groups through the low ropes course, conduct retreats and workshops, lead singing and games, and provide leadership for activities. In the summer months, Skye Farm operates as a resident Christian summer camp, serving ages 6 to 18. Our History In 1942, Dr. Luther A. Brown, H. Elliot Chaffe, and C. Walter Kessler sat on a big boulder near the outlet of a beautiful lake nestled among the majestic Adirondack mountains and reflected on the glorious green of the forest. This was the ideal spot for a Christian adventure camp. Brown gave his 140 acres of land for the Christian education of young people, and Skye Farm was born. Numbers of willing hearts gave money, scores of willing hands built the dining hall and cabins, and a host of willing minds planned programs and sent their youth to camp. The Browns additionally decided to deed to Skye Farm their 20-acre lot with its cottage, building, and 800 feet of excellent lakefront. Edwin Moses, a student at Syracuse University, under the able direction of Professor Bradford G. Sears, designed the camp layout. The former Troy Conference Board of Trustees loaned $1,200 for building materials. Over the years, the programs continued to flourish in many directions. The low ropes challenge course came into being in 1999 and got much use by campers and staff. The 2000 season included programs about circus arts, M.A.D.D., Christian yoga, science, and Animal Crackers (with an emphasis on farm and more exotic animals related of the Heifer International Project). 19

Summer camp:

A rare opportunity for underprivileged youth By Anita Leitgeb


t continues to be a privilege to partner with the Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church Camp & Retreat Ministries (CRM) to provide summer camp opportunities for children served by the Rescue Mission in Syracuse, Auburn, Binghamton, and Ithaca. Summer camp provides a muchneeded respite from the many challenges these children face daily. It’s an opportunity for them to be a kid for a week and truly provides them with a solid foundation for today and for the future. Many of the children served by the Rescue Mission have never experienced swimming in a lake, singing songs around a campfire, savoring a s’more, going on a wagon ride, or simply enjoying God’s beautiful creation. Many have also not experienced the start of a relationship with God. After a week away at camp, we always enjoy hearing what the campers’ favorite activities were – in most cases, chapel time tops their list! It is amazing to hear the children talk about their summer camp experiences months later when we visit them in our food service center or clothing outreach store. Clearly the impact of even one week at camp can kindle greater confidence and hope for a brighter future. I will never forget the day late last summer when some of the camp staff visited our Syracuse campus. One of our campers and his/her family walked down Gifford Street, and the camper and camp counselor reunited, even if only for a few minutes. The counselor met the camper’s mom and siblings, and it was like they all had known each other for years. It was such a blessing to watch this chance meeting unfold from afar, knowing the impact that this counselor had on this camper. 20 UNY ADVOCATE 2016, Issue 2

Thank you, CRM, for partnering with the Rescue Mission to help change lives, one child at a time. Editor’s note: Anita Leitgeb is the Assistant Director of Special Events for the Rescue Mission. In 2013 and 2014, CRM gave the Rescue Mission scholarships for kids connected to its Family Transitions Program in Auburn to attend summer camp. In 2015, CRM extended that outreach to Rescue Mission kids in Syracuse and Binghamton. The Rescue Mission

was so excited about that program that it raised scholarship money itself and paid for 35 kids to attend camp from its Auburn, Syracuse, and Binghamton sites. This year, CRM has offered 15 scholarships to the Rescue Mission to recruit campers from Syracuse, Auburn, Binghamton, and Ithaca. Leitgeb said she hopes to supplement that number by raising money again this year to increase the number of kids the Rescue Mission sends to summer camp.

CAMP CULTURE 101 One of the great traditions at the Skye Farm Camp & Retreat Center is singing after meals. It’s a way to get campers moving again and continuing to introduce them to new songs. Most songs have motions associated with them, which helps campers remember the songs throughout the week and throughout the off-season. It’s a chance to strengthen bonds. After breakfast, there’s usually a really upbeat and fast song, for example, “Rise and Shine” or “Alive, Awake, Alert, Enthusiastic.” These are to encourage excitement about the day ahead and

wake the campers up! After lunch, we sing a quieter, more mellow song, such as “Father, I Adore You” (with hand motions) because after lunch, it’s a camp-wide rest time. Dinner is usually followed by another upbeat song because the night is still young, and there’s still so much to do! These songs are learned in the dining hall and hardly ever forgotten throughout a camper’s lifetime. Asking any camper about a moose named Fred or the music master will immediately illicit a song – because obviously, they can’t just be described. Ask with caution!

Why I chose to donate to the Skye Farm Camp & Retreat Center By Lauri Nair


loved the Skye Farm Camp & Retreat Center from the moment I first set foot on the property in 1974. I grew up in a family where we spent lots of time in the woods on weekends and vacations in rustic cabins in Canada. I love the outdoors, especially mountains and lakes. I enjoy swimming, fishing, and boating. I feel especially close to God in that environment. As a music teacher, working with children was always special to me. The opportunity to lead a music camp at Skye Farm was most appealing, and I spent 26 years doing just that. I saw the children grow as musicians and grow in Christ. Many of my school students attended camp, and that was special because, at camp, I could share my faith with them, talk about Jesus, pray with them, and work with them on a level that I could not in the public school system. Many of those young people have remained in touch with me as adults, and they often talk about how much camping made a difference in their lives. I am glad, yet humbled to have been a part of that. Over the years, it was amazing to see lives transformed in just one week at camp. We had one young camper who was definitely “hanging out with the wrong

crowd” before coming to camp. By the time his week was over, that young man had changed and made a commitment to turning his life around. And he did just that, very successfully. That is the impact that camp can have on a young person. Many campers came back year after year, and when they aged out of being a camper, they came back as volunteer or permanent staff. We saw quite a number who met their future life partners at Skye Farm. We even had folks who grew up as campers come back and bring their own children to us to continue the family tradition. It has been amazing to see the faith that has grown and been nurtured through the camping program. It was also amazing to watch the adults who were willing to freely give a week of their time to nurture these children. When you realize that a camp counselor spends more time with a child in a week at camp than they can as a Sunday school teacher in an entire year, you see that the influence is tremendous. To see God’s handiwork and live in such a beautiful setting, without the fast-paced scenarios and distractions of normal everyday life, is indeed a blessing. I hope to see this continue for many generations, and that is why I have made a commitment to give financially to Skye Farm Camp & Retreat Center.

Help a youth attend a summer camp program YOU can help a youth attend summer camp by making a gift to the CRM Scholarship Fund. Checks made out to “UNYAC-CRM Scholarship Fund” may be sent to UNYAC-CRM, 324 University Ave, 3rd Fl., Syracuse, NY 13210. Or give online at Be sure to type “CRM Scholarship Fund” in the box next to “Camp & Retreat Ministries.”


of United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries

PROVIDE SACRED PLACES APART This invitation to a place apart includes some often unexpected rhythms and understandings. Everyone in United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries encourage guests and participants to receive through letting go, to move closer by being still, to hear the Divine Word in silence, to advance through retreat, to act on God’s behalf by resting, to learn community from solitude and strangers, and to discover ways to be more present at home by taking time away. Jesus’ teaching invites people to let go of grasping to their customary patterns to find deeper dimensions of life. This is part of the meaning of His promise – “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” The camp and retreat leader must grow comfortable with such dichotomies or he or she will be too restless and too anxious to guide others.

NURTURE CHRISTIAN FAITH and DISCIPLESHIP One unique gift of Christian camps and retreat centers that other types of programs and centers rarely highlight is specific opportunities to learn from and practice the Christian path taught by Jesus. The word “disciple” means someone who seeks and incorporates the guidance of a teacher. Christian discipleship, then, refers specifically to a growing trust in Christ while learning to integrate Christian faith teachings as a way of life. Camp and Retreat Ministry has an enduring reputation for frequently inspiring people to new levels of Christian discipleship. The Church establishes our centers and experiences as a powerful avenue for the fulfillment of this very purpose. Without a doubt, camps and retreats offer unparalleled dynamics that contribute immensely to this sacred aspect of what we are about. First, people enter an environment apart from daily distractions as a time to focus more attentively on God. Second, guest and participants actually live together as a community for an extended period of time. This creates a very real potential for moving learning beyond typical classroom conversation to applying Christian faith and principles in our interactions and priorities as a temporary but intentional community of faith while at camp or on retreat.



The waters nourishing modern Camp and Retreat Ministry run deep within United Methodist heritage. They sprang forth unexpectedly in the 1730s when John Wesley made a fundamental decision that would launch the Methodist movement into the mainstream of an historic “spiritual awakening” flowing from Europe into North America. With colleagues, he boldly chose to move preaching and faith formation into the “open air” where the people would have new access and new opportunities to hear and respond to the Good News. Have you noticed that the vast majority of faith-based camp and retreat centers are located within or adjacent to natural surroundings? Even where civilization has encroached, center staff and volunteers plant gardens to assure that nature remains. This is no accident. Other movements that have historically contributed to what has become modern day camp and retreat ministries, intentionally sought opportunities to spend time outdoors, including the Camp Meeting, Chatauqua, Scouting, and Epworth League movements. The United Methodist Church now has a network of more than 225 camp and retreat centers in the United States and beyond.

PARTNER WITH UMCs and AGENCIES One of the most fruitful and vital dimensions of United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries is our participation in a tremendous covenant connection. United Methodists deliberately choose to link together and join forces in a common mission together. Our

22 UNY ADVOCATE 2016, Issue 2

congregations and joint ministries sponsored by all the churches of a wider region, called a Conference, are viewed as a collective not as islands standing alone. We share leadership in many ways, and our clergy are even seen as members of the broader Conference rather than individual congregations. This covenant connection is a special, valued part of the United Methodist Church, its heritage, and its character. ... (United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries has a commitment) to partner with United Methodist local churches, conferences and agencies of the larger Church in a combined effort to nurture faith in God and to reach out to meet true needs in the world together. We earnestly believe that we can accomplish more together than we can individually – both as church members and as ministry organizations within the whole.

EXTEND CHRISTIAN HOSPITALITY and COMMUNITY Welcoming people and doing all we can to engender a true experience of community touches people profoundly. We live in a time when people long for connections, but often hesitate to reach out to form new relationships. Families move from place to place more often today than in previous generations, thus displacing them from tight knit family and friends. Individuals frequently do not even know their own neighbors. Even members of the same congregation may know each other only on superficial levels. Moving from discomfort and at times general suspicion of strangers to friendship is a precious blessing prioritized within Christian camp or retreat settings. (This) practice requires sensitivity and attentiveness. Only by actually listening and learning will we recognize what will truly build each other up. Getting to know each other by name is just the beginning. Community comes alive through love determined to act on behalf of the spiritual growth (growth in God) for oneself and the other person. This means that we do all we can to create environments of hospitality that inspire people to seek God and to value and encourage one another. It is our privilege and our calling, but it is not always simple and easy. We will have many opportunities to allow God to shape us to become more loving through the real life situations that arise when we host folks (for camp or) on retreat.

DEVELOP PRINCIPLED SPIRITUAL LEADERS Leaders play a critical part in shaping the present and the future for good or for ill. The number of books and resources about the nature of leadership and how to lead are innumerable. Within the plethora of perspectives and possibilities, our United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries help persons grow in a very specific type of leadership. We seek to nurture a special type of leadership – Christian Spiritual Leadership. Spiritual refers to “God,” which indicates that the leader continually seeks the Holy Spirit’s guidance and engages the individual or group being led to discern God’s purpose when choosing attitudes, direction and action. It is, also, true that those taking on Spiritual leadership are observed constantly for how they respond to situations and model how to lead. Leadership is not something that one can put on and off at a whim, but it requires consistency and the recognition that teachable moments abound and not all these moments are in the plan, program, or schedule.

INSPIRE AND EQUIP LIVES FOR LOVE AND JUSTICE Camp and retreat experiences provide fruitful opportunities for people to gather and to live together for a time. These times of gathering at our centers dedicated to growth in love has great potential to inspire all guests and guests groups to embrace more life giving practices and to act more justly and lovingly. The “communal” aspect of our ministry facilitates the possibility for God to transform lives. ... We can encourage them and celebrate their efforts to champion what is good along with their commitments to live lives that make a difference within their families and the wider world. Support for those seeking to become more responsive and loving people is enhanced greatly by a community who truly appreciates ways in which people open themselves to growth and service. This dynamic is what makes camp and retreat settings and times so significant and memorable for thousands upon thousands of participants and guests. 23

324 University Ave., 3rd Floor Syracuse, NY 13210

CAMP CULTURE 101 The legend of Harvey the Hippo – the unofficial mascot at the Sky Lake Camp & Retreat Center – began with a song written by a summer staff member, Steve Hulslander, in the early 1970s. From the earliest days, countless campers have taken to this 4,618.5-pound hippo, who, according to the song, manages to consume 200 pounds of food every day. In the early 2000s, the legend began to take physical shape when the Rev. Joyce Allen came across a delightful stuffed hippo created by her former parishioner at the Worcester UMC, Emma Gaylord, and procured it for Sky Lake. “The moment I saw that hippo, I just knew he belonged at Sky Lake,” said Rev. Allen.

After several years of spending time with campers, going on church visits, and taking part in a number of photo projects, original Harvey began to show some wear and tear. Fortunately, in 2013, the talented Brookye Keeney – who co-leads Creative Arts Week each summer at Sky Lake with her husband, the Rev. Nick Keeney – refurbished original Harvey and created two replicas, ensuring that the legend of Harvey the Hippo will continue to live on for generations to come. Visit HippoSong to watch a video created by volunteer and former camper, Greg Milunich, of campers singing “Harvey the Hippo” last summer.

For more Camp Culture, look inside! See pages 7, 11, 20

From the archives: Pictured above, Harvey was thrilled to spend time in worship in 2013 with the legendary LeJune “Junie” Ely.

Visit the link at left to see how camp has impacted the lives of campers, staff, and alumni.


Video by UNY Video Specialist Mary Dalglish


For more statements from people about how camp affected them, turn to the center of pages 8-9.

Upper New York: Vol. 8 Issue 2 - CRM  
Upper New York: Vol. 8 Issue 2 - CRM