By: Christa Meland
“I’m new to the Christianity thing. But I really felt close to God this year. I decided to devote my life to God, and that was my favorite memory.”
“It was this trip that made me feel that I truly was one of God’s creations . . . I had been feeling myself slipping from my religious beliefs, and this trip has just brought me closer to God.”
“Everyone helped me and made me feel welcomed and loved, and . . . they took the time to listen to me and my worries and fears.”
These reflections, shared by three people who attended Camp Minnesota this year, are representative of the experiences of more than 1,500 campers whose lives were changed in 2014 at one of three conference-owned camps: Northern Pines Camp in Park Rapids, Koronis Ministries in Paynesville, and Camp Kowakan near Ely.
Close to 150 local churches within the Minnesota Annual Conference sent people to camp in 2014—and some exciting changes are already in the works for the 2015 season.
“In addition to participating in dozens of fun camp activities, campers saw God in new ways, enjoyed opportunities to ask questions about their faith, and saw faith modeled in the words and example of caring adults,” said Keith Shew, director of camping and retreat ministries. “They discovered things about themselves and learned that they are loved by Christ.”
2014 by the numbers
The 2014 camp season went from June 8 to August 15. This was the first year for a new “session-based” program through which campers selected several areas of interest after they arrived at camp. Each day, they spent time participating in their selected activities—which ran the gamut from crafts and geo-caching to mountain biking and archery. Shew said the new programming received high praise and will be expanded in 2015 with even more activity options.
Here’s a look at other 2014 highlights by the numbers:
1,563: People who attended camp
40: Percent of campers who are outside of the United Methodist Church and represent new people we’re reaching through Camp Minnesota
70: Camps offered
4.5: Percent increase in overall registration at Northern Pines Camp and Koronis Ministries as compared to 2013
164: Campers who received a conference campership (camp scholarship) that enabled them to attend camp (many more received financial assistance through their churches)
108: Most youth campers at a single camp (L.Y.F.E. Camp at Koronis Ministries)
51: Most people from a single church to attend camp (sent by Normandale Hylands UMC in Bloomington)
70: Summer staff at Northern Pines Camp and Koronis Ministries
3: Percent increase in camper days (days spent at camp by all campers combined)
The 2015 camp season will go from June 14 to August 16. Registration brochures will be mailed out in January. Many 2014 camps will be back by popular demand, and here are a few new things to look forward to next year:
• Summer 2015 curriculum: The theme will be Power Up! Living in the Spirit. Campers will have the opportunity to: experience Christian community and discover its source—the Holy Spirit, claim the gift of a new Spirit within and to bear fruit as they choose living in the Spirit for themselves, realize they are never alone—Jesus’ gift of the Spirit is always with them, and live with grace and forgiveness, unity and courage, joy and peace—powered up by the Holy Spirit.
• Freebies: All campers who attend an event at Northern Pines or Koronis Ministries will receive a camp water bottle and string backpack when they check in.
• Early-bird store credit: Register for camp on or before April 1, and receive a $25 credit that can be used at any camp site for snacks at the canteen or items from the camp store.
• Bring-a-friend discount: For each new camper brought to camp in 2015, your event fee will be reduced by $25.00. (New campers are defined as those who have not been to any Camp Minnesota event in the past three years, and discounts cannot exceed the cost of your event registration fee.)
• Gaga pit: Northern Pines Camp will have a gaga pit. Gaga is a high-energy sport played in an octagonal pit. Played with a soft foam ball, gaga combines the skills of dodging, striking, running, and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees. Players need to keep moving to avoid getting hit by the ball.
• Treehouse renovation: Northern Pines Camp will have fully renovated treehouse cabins (so named because they are situated in some very tall trees).
• Specialty camp expansion: Koronis Ministries will offer specialty camps across more weeks, meaning that a greater number of campers will be able to register and participate. Specialties include everything aquatic, archery, fishing, horses, waterskiing/wakeboarding, and new directions (through which campers put on a musical).
• Kowakan transportation: Kowakan Adventures has partnered with Spirit River Community United Methodist Church in Isanti to offer transportation to Kowakan from the church. Those who are interested in attending camp at Kowakan but are unable to get there on their own now have the option to be picked up in Isanti, driven the rest of the way to camp, and driven back to Isanti after their time at camp is over.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church