What do you know about United Church Camps?

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Jobam

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Who has attended a UCC Camp? Does your local church support UCC Camps? Do you know how many kids/youth attend UCC Camps in a year? Do you know how many staff are hired by your local UCC Camp? Do you volunteer at Church Camp?
 

Mendalla

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@Pinga is our expert. She's been on the board at Five Oaks. I think @revjohn has some experience too, IIRC.

My brother was the groundskeeper at Ganadoweh for several years. I think there was just him and the director who were full-time employees but it's been a long time so I may be misremembering. He actually lived onsite.
 

Jae

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Who has attended a UCC Camp?
I haven't. I did do some volunteer work at one in northern New Brunswick a long time ago.

Jobam said:
Does your local church support UCC Camps? Do you know how many kids/youth attend UCC Camps in a year?
No, and no.

Jobam said:
Do you know how many staff are hired by your local UCC Camp?
I don't have a local UCC Camp.

Jobam said:
Do you volunteer at Church Camp?
No.
 

DaisyJane

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I spent a fair bit of time at Five Oaks in years past.
 

BetteTheRed

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My kids spent a lot of weeks at Camp Simpresca. Nick went all the way through to Counsellor in Training, although he didn't choose to become one, Erin stopped the year before she would have done C-I-T.

It seems to have been a major formative experience for many United Church youth.
 

revjohn

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Jobam said:
Who has attended a UCC Camp?
Never attended a UCCAN Camp as a camper. Was a counsellor at UCCAN Camps for three seasons, a Wilderness Director for another four seasons, a Camp Co-ordinator for a season after that. Was Camp Director for a week during an internship. Provided oversight for two District Camps for three years and am just this week writing a letter of resignation to a Camp Board after three years.

Jobam said:
Does your local church support UCC Camps?
Every church I have served has provided support for UCCAN Camps. For three years I chaired the Erie Presbytery Development Committee which supported our Presbytery camps on an annual basis. With a few request hiccups.

Jobam said:
Do you know how many kids/youth attend UCC Camps in a year?
Nationally? Regionally? Locally?

Not off the top of my head. If I wanted the information I could get it because I know where to look for it.

Jobam said:
Do you know how many staff are hired by your local UCC Camp?
Not off the top of my head no. Again, if I wanted the information I could get it because I know where to look for it.

Jobam said:
Do you volunteer at Church Camp?
Serving on the camp board is voluntary. I am rarely physically present at the camp during the season and that is by design.

The camp model here in NL is very different to what I cut my teeth on in what was then Hamilton Conference. My observation is that the difference accounts for a poorer quality product and since I have experience serving camps in the former Hamilton Conference, London Conference and Bay of Quinte Conference actually on site I have no difficulty defending the claim. In fact, the poor quality of product is what is driving me to pen my resignation.

Ordinarily, I am a vocal supporter of the ministry provided by the UCCAN various camps. From time to time various Camp Boards get different ideas about how a camp should be run and who should be running it. When the direction of the camp goes where I will not follow it is not in my interests or the interests of the camp for me to remain a part of the Board where I will spend most of my time resisting rather than assisting.
 

revjohn

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Mendalla said:
My brother was the groundskeeper at Ganadoweh for several years.
I was Wilderness Director at Ganadoweh for three years. Who is your brother and when did he serve?
 

Mendalla

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I was Wilderness Director at Ganadoweh for three years. Who is your brother and when did he serve?
Late nineties. I first met my eldest nephew (now married) there. I will PM the name.
 

revjohn

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Mendalla said:
Late nineties. I first met my eldest nephew (now married) there. I will PM the name.
My time at Ganadaoweh was '88 to '90 so I was on my way from Vancouver to St. Anthony by the time your brother served. I know that Jennifer Forest became Director in the mid '90s. Jennifer married my Best Man in '99 (I think it was) and I flew back to preside with the Reverend Peter Cowley who was a mutual friend of ours and a big-time Camp person. I cannot remember the name of Jennifer's successor only that she was Presbyterian rather than UCCAN. I was in and out of Ganadaoweh during Jennifer's term as Director, never on staff just a visitor popping in because I was in the neighbourhood.

This is a great camp tradition, seeing somebody strange wander onto the site and when you check up on them they tell you when they served and talk about all of the changes to the camp since that time.
 

Tabitha

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Camp Big Canoe for me as a camper. Sparrow Lake United Church Camp as staff.
 

Mrs.Anteater

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Sherbrook lake camp for a family retreat long time ago. Outhouses in August made my son hold it in for so long, he would not have made it longer than those two days.
Berwick camp every year for evening services. Don’t stay overnight, but the diversity of evangelists was a fresh wind compared to the stalled atmosphere in local congregations. Berwick Camp has a strong volunteer association and attracts hundreds of campers for the 10 days every year.
 

Luce NDs

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Is stalled atmosphere like the dinosaur thesaurus for metaphorical stoicism ... finding no Joyce in the changing word? Omaha gawd ...

These course are mist in many political journalism course leaving many cranked and warped ... a twist of word to enjoy as God goes round ... perhaps a Last One In Paris? Entanglement must come about as negative expression ... untied? De*bi in a storm ...
 

Nancy

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I didn't attend camp as a camper...I lived on a farm and every summer was taken up by haying season, gardening, taking care of animals...It was wonderful! But I serve on a Board of Directors for Camp McDougall. We've gone through some tough times, but currently we are on an upswing. We are connecting better than ever with the United Church, and our last year was a phenomenal success. Finances are always a worry, and we do a lot of fundraising and a little begging! Annual upkeep of old buildings, old trees that keep falling down, changing beach -- all are labour intensive. But we have Board members who donate much time, work and even money to keep things afloat. It really is a labour of love. The success stories of campers who find fun and happiness and total acceptance --- make it all very worthwhile. And there are so many people in various local communities and churches who provide support. A blessing!
 

Jobam

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Morning, after attending The Great Gathering last week I have become fired up about pushing the awareness of UCC camps.

As a non-camp person (up until 2012 when I started Rainbow Camp), I had no interest in UCC camps. As a Queer person, the last thing I wanted was to be in a cabin with a bunch of straight folks. What happened if I 'liked' one of them? If I was attracted to one of them? It never worked out well while I was in school so why would it work out in a more confined place.

I've seen the light!

I have become aware of how many of our UCC camps work in isolation, and the lack of support from the national church while attending this event. The frustrations they spoke of have been going on for years. The church only seems to hear that camps need money. The church doesn't hear the stories of the campers and staff and the influences that camps have on so many kids/youth each year across this country. We should be proud of the work that many of these camps are doing. For many, camp will have a more profound impact on these kids than the church will ever have. If the church isn't involved how does it help build bridges for kids to be invited into congregational involvement, whatever the looks like?

Finding a camp Chaplin can be an exhausting exercise. The UCC has no national policy on clergy that have been invited to be a camp Chaplin. Many UCC camps do not have a clergy person in the role of Camp Chaplin. In many congregations, clergy can only take part in camp for any length of time if they use their vacation time. Wow. So much for local Camp outreach ministry. Trust me, I understand why this is - but more importantly, why can't we bring it forward as an issue and change it. In my humble opinion, local UCC's should donate their clergy's staff time to be at camp if the camp has asked their Minister.

How would you change/build camp awareness/culture in the UCC? The number of people that are involved in UCC camps across the Country is staggering...these folks have a passion for camp. The church needs to see this..... Regional Council's need camping ministry representation. I am sure all camps could do with an infusion of cash, they need more - they need National support, they need local support, they need your support.

How can you help?
 

Mrs.Anteater

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Morning, after attending The Great Gathering last week I have become fired up about pushing the awareness of UCC camps.

As a non-camp person (up until 2012 when I started Rainbow Camp), I had no interest in UCC camps. As a Queer person, the last thing I wanted was to be in a cabin with a bunch of straight folks. What happened if I 'liked' one of them? If I was attracted to one of them? It never worked out well while I was in school so why would it work out in a more confined place.

I've seen the light!

I have become aware of how many of our UCC camps work in isolation, and the lack of support from the national church while attending this event. The frustrations they spoke of have been going on for years. The church only seems to hear that camps need money. The church doesn't hear the stories of the campers and staff and the influences that camps have on so many kids/youth each year across this country. We should be proud of the work that many of these camps are doing. For many, camp will have a more profound impact on these kids than the church will ever have. If the church isn't involved how does it help build bridges for kids to be invited into congregational involvement, whatever the looks like?

Finding a camp Chaplin can be an exhausting exercise. The UCC has no national policy on clergy that have been invited to be a camp Chaplin. Many UCC camps do not have a clergy person in the role of Camp Chaplin. In many congregations, clergy can only take part in camp for any length of time if they use their vacation time. Wow. So much for local Camp outreach ministry. Trust me, I understand why this is - but more importantly, why can't we bring it forward as an issue and change it. In my humble opinion, local UCC's should donate their clergy's staff time to be at camp if the camp has asked their Minister.

How would you change/build camp awareness/culture in the UCC? The number of people that are involved in UCC camps across the Country is staggering...these folks have a passion for camp. The church needs to see this..... Regional Council's need camping ministry representation. I am sure all camps could do with an infusion of cash, they need more - they need National support, they need local support, they need your support.

How can you help?
I think that camps if they were better supported, would have a better attendance rate than congregations and a longer chance of survival, just because their focus is not on worship in the traditional way, and therefore they are open to non- christians.
The new gifts with vision catalogue has an option to support a camper, but this will not be the real solution.
since I am no longer UCC nor have any kids at that age, I am not likely to support UCC Camps.
The problem I found was that in case of Sherbrook Camp, outhouses and using the lake as the only opportunity to get wet ( “ washing”) are too primitive to draw a bigger crowd, but I don’t think they have funds to update to real facilities.
I am surprised that there hadn’t been communication between camps about how to best manage. Maybe this is a start.
 

Luce NDs

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Support is not as great as the great tendency of degeneration so as to eliminate the competition ... then the fight began!

Tis political impropriety as only the poles are in the game against the empire builders ... empirical democracy! Non equivalence ...

Where's our worst enemy?
 

Nancy

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Our Regional Council has an excellent representative, who attends most of our Board meetings. It has made a HUGE difference.
 

revjohn

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Jobam said:
Morning, after attending The Great Gathering last week I have become fired up about pushing the awareness of UCC camps.
Thank you for your passion and taking that message out into the wider community.

Jobam said:
I have become aware of how many of our UCC camps work in isolation, and the lack of support from the national church while attending this event. The frustrations they spoke of have been going on for years.
It can be a dysfunctional relationship. That cannot be rightly laid at the feet of the national church. All camps have their own Board of Directors. All camps are under the oversight of a body of the Church (formerly Conference and now Region). All camps are expected to be credentialed through the CCA which is an independent body.

Not all Camp Boards function well. I'm smack dab in the middle of a nightmare right now. And to be honest, I've been responsible for providing oversight to this particular camp in the past it does not have a stellar history of polity observance. The campers, for the most part, enjoy the camp experience. That is not going to last long if things do not radically change.

Part of the issue a lot of Boards wrestle with is registration fees. There are emotional appeals to keep the registration low so that campers do not get shut out. This can work if there is a strong donor community picking up the slack that low registration fees create. This will mean that more of the capital expense for running the camp day to day is not secure from one year to the next. Budget lines get cut after cut because expenses never wait for revenue.

Jobam said:
The church only seems to hear that camps need money. The church doesn't hear the stories of the campers and staff and the influences that camps have on so many kids/youth each year across this country.
That is patently false. Every camp is obligated to provide an annual report to their body of oversight. That report is often included in the docket given to all delegate to the Regional AGM. Those reports give the stats on how many campers, how many camps alongside the budget.

Every Conference/Region I have ever served in makes sure that representatives from every camp they have oversight of get an opportunity to speak to the gathered delegates. The information is given and it is disseminated.

Apart from that most communication from camps is an appeal for funds. These appeals get greater circulation than do the Annual Reports.
This feeds the misperception that the only relationship camps have with the wider church is coming cap in hand.

Jobam said:
We should be proud of the work that many of these camps are doing.
I agree with this. We should be more proud. We should also be aware of just how many of our clergy come from a camp background.

Jobam said:
For many, camp will have a more profound impact on these kids than the church will ever have. If the church isn't involved how does it help build bridges for kids to be invited into congregational involvement, whatever the looks like?
Camps are ministries of the Church they are not stand-alone enterprises. The Church is deeply involved. There is a communication deficit between camps and other Communities of Faith (congregations). Some of that comes from a history of dysfunction.

Two of the Camps I am most familiar with are Ryerson (still active) and Ganadaoweh (sold maybe 15 years ago or so). On camping Sunday both of these camps ensure that they are represented in as many worship services as is possible in their respective Presbyteries. I've been a part of those services on numerous occasions. If we can find a willing camper to tag along and tell their story we don't hesitate.

Since returning to NL I am unaware of any request from any camp for time on Camping Sunday. I'm not really surprised since the staffing models are vastly different than what I am used to.

In Hamilton Conference at two camps, I had full summer employment 8 weeks paid with free food and lodging. In London Conference at the one camp, I worked at counselors were volunteers with free food and lodging. This leads to a markedly different result in the quality of the counselor.

Jobam said:
Finding a camp Chaplin can be an exhausting exercise.
Chaplins are not a necessity. Camps have existed for ages without any formalized Chaplin being part of the staff.

In my four years at Ryerson we never had a Chaplin. Of course, we had some pastoral training as part of our orientation and we knew if the issue was beyond ourselves the next step was to go to the Director. Being pastoral was actually a job expectation. We were also responsible for delivering the spiritual components of the program. The Bible Study was typically written by the Director, approved of by the Camp Board some months in advance (I've written two programs for two camps before starting Seminary). Orientation and training spend a large time on the program and who is taking lead for what parts.

This was my experience at three camps in Hamilton Conference (at the time there were four). It was quite different in London Conference where counselors did not participate at all in the spiritual programming.

Jobam said:
The UCC has no national policy on clergy that have been invited to be a camp Chaplin.
That is true. National doesn't. Because it is a decision of the Camp Boards as to whether or not there will be a camp chaplin. The Camp Boards also outline the role of the chaplin and whether or not the chaplin is expected to be permanent on-site while camp is in session or whether they show up for study times and are off-site and on-call the remainder of the time camp is in session.

Jobam said:
Many UCC camps do not have a clergy person in the role of Camp Chaplin.
And the program doesn't suffer because of their absence.

Jobam said:
In many congregations, clergy can only take part in camp for any length of time if they use their vacation time. Wow.
That can be negotiated. Many congregations might feel that serving as a camp chaplain is more vacation than it is work. That is an ignorant perception that can be addressed. Congregations that understand they have a responsibility to the wider Church community are often happy having their clergy represent their congregation at Camp.

Jobam said:
So much for local Camp outreach ministry.
The camp is the ministry. The issue is really about shared ministry and which local communities of faith participate and how.

Jobam said:
Trust me, I understand why this is - but more importantly, why can't we bring it forward as an issue and change it. In my humble opinion, local UCC's should donate their clergy's staff time to be at camp if the camp has asked their Minister.
I think that you are beginning to understand. I'm not sure you are all the way there yet.

Camps are separate entities they are not missions of neighbouring congregations. As such Camps are responsible for determining their needs and finding ways to address those needs. The most common ask is money (for capital projects or camper sponsorship), or sweat (camp clean up day bring your work gloves and tools).

Jobam said:
How would you change/build camp awareness/culture in the UCC?
Transition camps from a seasonal ministry to a year-long ministry. That will not be fiscally responsible for all sites. It does address the visibility issue. Camps are most active when congregants are least active.

Jobam said:
The number of people that are involved in UCC camps across the Country is staggering...these folks have a passion for camp.
Yes. They have passion in abundance. No doubt about that. The passion needs to be wed to some wisdom and sometimes that just doesn't happen easily.

Jobam said:
The church needs to see this..... Regional Council's need camping ministry representation. I am sure all camps could do with an infusion of cash, they need more - they need National support, they need local support, they need your support.
The Church will see from Camps what Camps want them to see. Just as the wider society sees from any congregation what the congregation wishes to display.

I'm not sure what National Support is needed since the institutional Church only provides oversight. It doesn't dictate terms.

This is the only bit of the Manual that actually defines camp structure:

Basis of Union 2019 said:
Bylaws B. Community of Faith The Manual, 2019 74
The United Church of Canada

B.8 Governance Requirements for Communities of Faith Other Than Congregations and Pastoral Charges

These requirements apply only to communities of faith that are not congregations or pastoral charges. For requirements that apply to congregations and pastoral charges, see sections B.2 to B.7 above.

B.8.1 Members The members of communities of faith are those people admitted to membership by the community of faith-based on
(a) policies set by the community of faith-consistent with denominational guidelines; and
(b) any terms relating to membership set out in the covenant between the community of faith and regional council, consistent with denominational guidelines.

B.8.2 Other Governance Matters
B.8.2.1 Setting Governance Requirements The community of faith and the regional council decide on all requirements for meetings, governance bodies, and organizational matters for the community of faith. All these requirements must be set out in the covenant between the community of faith and the regional council.
B.8.2.2 Individualized Governance Requirements The governance requirements for each community of faith must be appropriate for the size, form, and mission of the community of faith.
Which boils down to the Camp Board determining with Oversight support how the Camp will be structured and operate. Once that is established Oversight is more maintenance.

Jobam said:
How can you help?
It varies. Some camps are happily out of sight and tucked away from the institution. Others are more connected to the Presbytery that had immediate oversite.

Ryerson Camp has hosted Presbytery Meetings during the camping season. I can only imagine the effort involved. Erie Presbytery met 8 times per annum and typically the Director was always present as a corresponding member. A number of Communities of Faith sponsor the 8 sleeping cabins and typically send a work crew out to the spring and fall workdays to do general prep/close duties and more specific care for the cabin they sponsor. Nothing on site points to who sponsors what to prevent any particular Community of Faith from being shamed.

It was not an unusual occurence at Ryerson to have the Camp Board meet on sight twice during the camping season and it was a very regular occurrence that some of the Camp Board members would visit over a meal and touch base with camp staff to see how the summer was progressing.

I don't recall Ganadaoweh ever hosting a Presbytery meeting in season. I met some of the Camp Board frequently as they were also operating the neighbouring farms and from time to time I'd be dispatched to get some necessary equipment for something. Also when you Direct a Wilderness Camp you spend at least half of the week off-site and I never really paid attention to what was going on when I was not present. Ganadaoweh was a year-round site with much of the off-season stuff being various rental groups. In the spring, while I was at University, I would finish the spring semester, and head to the Camp where I would spend the first part of the day picking Asparagus at Berrie's Asparagus Farm and then general maintenance in the afternoon/evening. This was in exchange for room and board. We would host several schools from the Waterloo-Wellington Board of Education and I typically ran pond studies. Camp Staff would host the evening campfire and practice our skits for the summer.

We also hosted ESL groups which was always lively.

Ganadaoweh worked harder to be more visible outside of the denominational lines and for a while it was a great success. Budget cuts from the Province meant that the funding for these camps no longer existed and that hurt Ganadaoweh's revenue. Not really sure what finally did them in but eventually the Camp Board was exhausted and that was the beginning of the end.

If the Camps aren't prepared to insert themselves into the life and work of the wider Church then they are going to find it harder and harder to get the wider Church investing in their particular ministry.

Visibility matters.
 

Nancy

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If the Camps aren't prepared to insert themselves into the life and work of the wider Church then they are going to find it harder and harder to get the wider Church investing in their particular ministry.

Visibility matters.
Thank you for your insights. Wish you were a Board member for us!!!
 
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