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.
Maybe you are already doing it but one of the scariest, but most rewarding weeks of my life was leading Friendship Camp at Westminster Woods. It was my first contact with Developmentally Disable adults in a caretaker role, and not only that - I was the one in charge of the counselors doing the caretaking!
I should not have been scared. They are the most loving and rewarding people you will experience. The week for counselors is tiring and long, but almost unanimously, counselors place this week among the highlights of their summer.
Upon my arrival at Heartland Center in Missouri, I found they were doing a camp for Developmentally Disabled Adults as well as a "Service Partnership" camp for high schoolers to help care for the adults. Wow the growth I saw in those high schoolers. I would hire them for anything!
So many counselors who participate in these programs go on to work in group homes, teach or do other service related vocations. It has that big an impact.
If you don't already do a camp for a special population - I encourage you to consider it. There are some changes you need to make, but not as many as you might fear. It is right there waiting for you and I guarantee there are a multitude of adult campers and care facilities that are begging for your program. You have so much to offer and what a great way to share the love of Jesus Christ and teach service through service.
What special population camps do you offer?
Does anyone do a camp for Autistic or Non-Verbal kids and families?
What special population camps are you considering?
I know that Calvin Crest and Wyoming both had camps serving economically underprivileged campers through partnerships with agencies - do you do this?
The number of special groups that need camp are boundless - it just takes creativity, passion, and a leader committed to seeing the program through.
I'd love to hear your thoughts.