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Brian Frick is the Associate for Camp and Conferences Ministries with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He has been involved in camp and conference ministry since high school. For the past ten years, Brian has served as program director of Johnsonburg Center in New Jersey, Westminster Woods in California, and Heartland Center in Missouri.

Camp and conference ministry compliments and partners with other ministry aspects of our church to foster faith development and reflection. As our communities and our church changes, our ministries need to grow and adapt with creative and emergent programming and leadership to meet new realities.

These blogs entries, though varied, are intended to spur thought and conversation around the opportunities and challenges before us.

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July 7, 2009

What does the Associate for Camp and Conference Ministries do anyway?!

There is an interesting question and one I am posed more often than I would like.
It is not dissimilar to "What do you do the other 9 months of the year?" when you tell someone you are a camp program director.  Oh well.  Hazard of a wonderful life I guess.
Well in talking with David Gill, Executive Director of Ferncliff in Arkanasas last week, he asked what I had been up here goes!

There is always something cooking I the Office of Camp and Conference Ministries!  Can’t say that I have huge fruit from my meetings as far as solid partnerships but I’m a firm believer that relationships build trust and understanding and lead to partnerships.  These things do not grow overnight, though we all want them to!


 I do know that YAV and hopefully Enough for Everyone and folks from Equipping for Mission Involvement will be coming to Ferncliff in November for PCCCA.  I’m also hoping to get my supervisor, Ray Jones (Evangelism Coordinator) and maybe Gina Yeager-Buckley or Adrian McMullen from Youth and Young Adult ministries to PCCCA.  And our communicator for evangelism, Paul Seebeck.  Hopefully we get a good turnout.  I think it is better to get people to meet us in person and make the connections that work that way.


I’ve been trying to get Randy and John at PDA on the phone etc.  Would be great to have some follow through and something to report on that front.  I guess they are too busy?


Some of the seminaries and colleges are interested in getting more connected with camp and conference ministry.  I’m really pushing the idea that we have the youth and young adults that they are looking for and to get them all to see how integral the summer camp experience is in faith development but also in the life of the Church.  Slowly but slowly I think we’ll get there.


I’ve been talking with folks at Presbyterian Women to get them to bite on partnering in some way or getting some buy in on the Way-Points program.  If they “get it” I think we could have a real partnership at getting more programs for adults and for them to see them at our sites. 

There are changes at Way-Points.  Spencer Parks (Executive Director, Menucha in Oregon) stepped down and Maria Shupe (Executive Director, Highlands Camp and Retreat Center, in Colorado) (with my assistance) has stepped up as the “moderator” of that group so I’m hopeful we will get traction this year.  The idea of Way-Points Programs, Presbyterian adult programming, is dynamite, it just needs to be pushed.  Folks at GAC are totally behind it so we’ll see.


I have been working with Ray to begin discussions on how we get Youth and Young Adult Ministries, and camp and conference center ministries more intentionally connected.  That is in the early stages but I see that as growing.  Ray is wonderful and really “gets it” as far as where camp and conference experiences can be a big catalyst in the faith life of individuals and congregations can be more involved.  His daughter had a big experience at camp, not one of ours but we’ll let that slide! – and he and I get along great so I’m interested to see where that goes.


Joel Winchip (Executive Director, Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association - PCCCA) and I have been in touch with AEPS (Association of Executive PresbyterS) and are working on a fall gathering.  It’s in early stages but we are hoping to open dialog on how to lay the groundwork in Presbyteries so camp and conference ministries can survive as partners and not be seen as assets or a drain on resources – especially when times get tough.  We are hoping to get some unified understandings so decisions can be made before crisis hits.  Decisions born out of crisis or necessity are not as good as those that are laid out in advance so I’m excited and hopeful to see how that develops.


I have been very involved in the Ghost Ranch incorporation study group through the GAC elected and that has been a great experience.  I know more about camp and conference governance and incorporation already than I ever thought I would.  It has taken a huge amount of my time this year as I knew it would but it has been a good experience and I’m impressed at the seriousness with which that relationship GAC/GR is being explored.  Not sure where it will come out but all is progressing well.


And last week I was called out to Chicago Presbytery for a consultation as they look to reorganize. They have a large debt load and the camp at Saugatuck is in the conversation.  I was so impressed at how many options they are contemplating and the research they have done. They are not making a knee jerk reaction and are very supportive of the camp and hope they will be able to keep it. They are very interested in ways to insulate the Presbytery from liability from camp operations while still being able to retain a connection with the ministry at the camps at Saugatuck.  I’m interested to see how that turns out.


While I was in Chicago, I met with Mark Burkhardt, Director for Outdoor Ministries at the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) offices.  That was a wonderful meeting.  What a great man.  Loads of experience and a great resource as we move ahead with Presbyterian camp and conference ministries.  We both had lots to share and learn from each other.


On a down note, we cancelled both Eco-Steward programs this summer for lack of participants.  Obviously the idea that we thought was so great, really isn’t on target with the target audience so we will go back to the drawing board.  We have a meeting scheduled for early July while PRC (Presbyterians for Restoring Creation) is meeting at Montreat.  I wish I could go in person but decided to save the carbon – and with all my travelling, I am not currently the poster child in PCCCA for carbon savings!  Yikes! 


I figure I have been on 25 planes already this year!  I don’t think I have taken that many flights in the last 5 years and it’s only June!


In the midst of all this, I’m getting ready to lead a week of camp at Westminster Woods in July as well as do a “tour/visit” of Calvin Crest and Big Bear in southern California!

Of course this is not an exhaustive list of what is shaking (working on a new Presbyterian Panel Survey for camp and confernces, in conversations about linking youth ministry and camping ministry more intentionally, etc.) but it gives you a thumbnail sketch of what I've been up to!


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