By: Victoria Rebeck
Roughing it in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. Sharing God’s love with people in need by repairing their home. Horseback riding, archery, swimming, or even developing your own superhero character.
Minnesota Conference’s camping and retreats ministry will expand on its popular camping activities like these this year—all toward connecting young people to Christ and God’s creation.
Junior-high youth can get a taste of wilderness camping at the Adventure Challenge camps at Koronis Ministries in Paynesville. They will stay in the yurts moved from Decision Hills Campground to Koronis’s Pine Grove.
“We know that Adventure Challenge will also include a bike ride from Koronis to Decision Hills Campground [in Spicer],” says Mike McArthur, director of Koronis Ministries. “With the completion of the bike trail, we can bike 90 percent of the way on a trail to Decision Hills.”
They may also have a chance to canoe to an island in the middle of Lake Koronis and camp there—a great preparation for Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness camps offered through KoWaKan (near Ely).
KoWaKan continues to be base camp for United Methodists venturing into the Boundary Waters. Senior high students through adults will be able to sign up for organized trips. Church groups can ask KoWaKan staff to provide a customized trip. KoWaKan will rent equipment, provide a guide, organize the trip, or lead devotions—or all of these, as the group requests.
Senior-high students will have opportunities to backpack into the Rocky Mountains, sail or kayak the Apostle Islands, go rock-climbing, and maybe even catch their largest fish. These Minnesota Conference trips will teach teens skills in adventure camping—and train them to be leaders at church, in their communities, and at future camps.
Even more mission camps
Servant Heart Ministries—popular mission-work camps organized through Camp Kingswood, which is now closed—will be expanded.
“Because Servant Hearts will not be connected to one location, this sets the stage for great new opportunities—partnerships with other groups and hosting places more leaders with various skills sets, and different focuses,” says Keith Shew, Minnesota Conference’s director of camping and retreat ministries. “We will be able to create events around what is unique about the community where these camps will happen—the community’s parks, waterways, and other features.”
Expect to see some rural opportunities (Isanti and Spirit River Church in Isanti, Northern Pines and the Park Rapids area, and others), one or two events at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, and more.
Groups can develop their own Servant Heart camp with Minnesota Conference camp staff help.
“We can provide a turn-key experience,” Shew says. “We can provide all the staff and resources, tools, training. We can also add programming as groups request.”
Classic camps still beloved
Kids still like classic residential camps. The camping and retreat ministry staff plans to offer the most popular ones again this year.
Koronis is adding a “specialty” option this year.
“Fourth through sixth graders, who can attend the last weekend in June, can choose to focus on horseback riding, aquatics (windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, and snorkeling), basketball, fishing, or even developing their own superheroes and stories,” McArthur says. “Sixth through twelfth graders, who attend the last week in July, can choose to focus on waterskiing, horseback riding, archery, or New Directions (worship arts).”
All campers across specialties join together for shared devotions and Bible study.
Northern Pines is again offering the popular Wet and Wild Camp and Grandparent Camp, formerly offered at Decision Hills Campground. They are also significantly upgrading their cabins.
Building faith experiences and faithful leaders remains a key purpose of Minnesota Conference camps. All will be using the All Things New curriculum for outdoor ministries.
“This is one way we are providing the consistency that people are asking for,” Shew says.
Camping is a great way for churches to augment their children and youth ministries. Don’t have children or youth at your church? Consider building a family ministry by offering camperships to children in area schools.
Victoria Rebeck is director of communication for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church