Celebrate Camping, Retreat Ministry!



As churches prepare to highlight Camping and Retreat Ministries on the last weekend of January (or another time of their choice), camps unveiled plans for Summer 2021 and Conference leaders got good news on the capital campaign to support these ministries.

"As of December 31, 2020, the Deeply Rooted, Upward Reaching camping campaign has received $996,426.24!  As we near the $1 million marker, we celebrate that clergy and laity across the WPA Conference are helping people of all ages hear the good news of Jesus Christ at our six camping and retreat ministry sites," Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn, director of connectional ministries and a member of the campaign leadership team, told members of the Connectional Leadership Table.

"Recently, a dedicated layperson completed her goal by faithfully sending in $14 a month for 18 months!" she added. "Every gift, whether large or small, makes a difference in the overall ministry of our Conference camping and retreat ministry.  But we do have a way to go to meet the $5 million goal. There is still $332,498.44 in outstanding intents.

 "And there are still about 500 local churches that have not yet committed to participation in the DRUR campaign," Weaver Dunn added.  "A new effort will be launched as a new Camping Campaign Coordinator assumes the responsibility in February 2021.  Thank you to all who have contributed - and thank you to those who are prayerfully considering how they can become involved!" 

In late 2020, the various ministry sites shared some of the ways campaign funds had helped them upgrade their facilities and continue in ministry despite the pandemic. Video reports are posted on the Campaign Resources page and can be used on Camping Sunday or at another time.

There is much to celebrate about Western PA camping and retreat ministries.

Only 12 of about 170 United Methodist camps were able to offer summer programming in 2020 and two of those were in Western PA -- Wesley Woods provided a modified shortened season and Camp Allegheny was able to follow state and federal guidelines and mandates to offer an array of experiences. At the Lake Ministries offered a limited number of excursions on Lake Erie and Olmsted Manor modified its retreat programming. The Healthy Village Learning Institute actually expanded some of its programming to meet the needs of its community.

Jumonville, which could not safely offer summer programming, came to the aid of area families at the end of August when local schools opened with a hybrid schedule. With financial support from nearby Nemacolin resort, Jumonville U was launched, providing a safe supervised space for school-aged children to come during their online learning days to complete school work and participate in camp activities.  A video that was part of Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi's State of the Conference address showed what a difference Jumonville U made to parents and children. 

Camping Weekend is one of 10 Special Sundays authorized by the Western PA Annual Conference to celebrate and support various ministries. Camping Weekend on January 30-31, 2021 (or another date chosen by the local church) is to encourage participation in camping and retreat ministries, support of the DRUR campaign and to receive a special offering. 

To observe Camping Sunday:
  1. Invite someone from your church to share their camping story
  2. Use the videos mentioned above to show how these ministries make a positive difference
  3. Invite someone from one of the sites to come to your church (virtually until it's safe to do so in person) to speak
  4. Learn more about and share upcoming camping and retreat ministry opportunities by visiting these websites: