Latino Camp celebrates faith, family, fun

Nearly 75 children and youth, from 3rd to 12th-graders, came from Latino churches across the Eastern PA Conference to revel in learning, laughter, love of nature, lessons of life, heart-lifting worship and loads of fun at Latino Camp June 30 to July 5. Next year the annual camp turns 40 years young.

Hosted for many years by Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center in Lebanon, they used its “Peacemakers” summer camp curriculum for children. Meanwhile, various leaders taught classes in leadership development for youth and parenting skills for adults.

Topics included stewardship, preaching, faith-sharing, prayer and meditation, social media, UM church structure, and liturgical dance with flags and mime. High-spirited worship, with inspired preaching, music and testimony climaxed each evening. July 4th featured annual Family Day fun and festivities, including special Latino food provided by Nuevo Nacimiento (New Birth) UMC in Lebanon.

Madeline Gonzalez-Lopez and the Rev. Angel Lopez, who serve Nueva Creacion (New Creation) UMC in Lancaster, co-led the camp, while Joseph Torres and Jezerel Gutierrez coordinated programming for youth and children. About a dozen other lay and clergy members of the Latino Commission volunteered to teach classes, facilitate activities and serve in other ways.

The closing presentations made by each cabin-group interpreted the week’s highlights and important lessons learned in creative, often hilarious ways, according to the Rev. Luky Cotto, who brought 21 children and youth from her church, Casa del Pueblo in Hatboro, Pa.

“The Latino camp program is a celebration of all that is good,” said Apryl Miller, Director of Gretna Glen, which supports the camp yearly with staff help, scholarships and amenities.

“Pastors, church leaders, parents all come alongside their children and youth during this impactful week to raise them up in their faith journey and build healthy relationships. Their investment is more valuable than we know for the future of the church, and it all happens with God’s love through the camp experience.”