Camp and Retreat E-News: Camp Registrar Holly Dolan Attends National Gathering

February 06, 2019


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Camp Registrar Holly Dolan Attends UM Camp & Retreat Ministries National Gathering 


At the end of January, I was fortunate to able to attend the biennial United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries National Gathering in Fruitland Park, Florida. The weather was cooler than expected, but the group of individuals assembled there more than made up for it. I attended workshops on topics as wide-ranging as Time Management, Purposeful Evening Programs, Welcoming LGBTQ Staff and Campers and Exploding Bibles!  No books were harmed in the presentation of the last workshop, which focused on teaching the Bible through hands-on science experiments.
Led by the theme of @ the Table, evening worships were filled with music and messages, keynote speakers, Beth and Travis Allison, spoke about telling our stories, and individuals involved with camp and retreat ministries who had retired or passed since the last Gathering were recognized and lifted up to the assembled group. As would be expected at any camp-related event, there was food, campfires and, yes, s’mores!
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting people from across the country, putting faces to names, hearing their stories and learning how other United Methodist camp and retreat programs are structured, how they run, and what their successes and challenges are. But after all the learning, studying, and listening, what I took away from the event was the passion for our mission that so many individuals have. In a time when many programs are seeing a decline in attendance, when some conferences are voting to sell camps and retreat centers, completely dissolve, or simply disown these amazing programs; there are still individuals who get up every day knowing what they do matters, that what they do is changing lives, that what they do is more than a job, that it really is carrying on God’s work, reaching out to all of God's children, gathering them together. 
Whether those coming to our facilities are United Methodists, from other denominations and faiths, local schools or family groups, our mission is to bring them together, at the table, figuratively and literally, and share our stories of Jesus, the Bible, and nature, and to send them back into the world hopefully a little bit better than when they arrived. Spending a week in Florida re-affirmed that our programs have the people who can make this happen, and for that, I am grateful to them all.


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