Campers running and playing, Carson Simpson Farm

Conference’s Summer Camps power up, take flight

Camper rope climbing, swinging from trees, Pocono Plateau“Power Up: Living in the Spirit!” That’s the 2015 Summer Camp theme at our four conference-owned, high-energy Camp and Retreat Centers, as they power up their virtual engines and launch an exciting new, fun-filled season. For roughly six weeks children and youth of all ages will elevate their bodies, minds, spirits and talents through an amazing range of uplifting activities–from swinging on ropes through trees, to scaling rock-climbing walls, to raising their voices in song and their hearts in prayer during daily devotions.

But they’ll be doing so much more: swimming, canoeing, archery, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, sports and games (including the always rambunctious game Gaga), science and crafts, learning and performing music, creating visual arts, and enjoying scenic nature trips. There will be a muddy obstacle course and crawling critters, a zoo trip and a safari, fish and fowl, plenty of green earth, blue water and fresh air–the very best of God’s unparalleled creation. Well, maybe just one thing better: some of the nicest human beings God ever made. Camp counselors, staff and volunteers will make sure all the fun and fellowship is safe, nurturing and memorable

Campers posing together in crowd, Carson Simpson FarmThere will also be some contextual camps that allow children and youth to explore diverse cultures, experiences and relationships. Camp Innabah will again offer the adventurous “Around the World in 7 Days.” Gretna Glen will host the always popular Latino Camp, but also a Native American Adventure Camp, and a first-time Diversity and Leadership Camp.

In fact, there’s plenty of leadership development happening at our summer camps. Gretna Glen has a Camper in Leadership Training program for teens who want to become camp counselors someday. Carson-Simpson Farm has the Cornerstone Youth Leadership Disciple Program for teens and PEACE Ministries (Partners Equipping All Children for Eternity) for inner city children. And Pocono Plateau offers team building experiences to teach that valuable skill to youth.

Campers with Special Needs Canoeing, Camp InnabahInnabah, meanwhile, continues to excel in offering invaluable summer camp experiences to groups with special needs. Camp of Dreams welcomes persons with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome. And the remarkable, seven-level menu of Challenge Camps–now in their 49th year–are designed for individuals with intellectual disabilities. In addition, Gretna Glen hosts the Muscular Dystrophy Association Camp and the always exciting and heartwarming Camp Can Do for children battling cancer.

What’s in a name? Check out the daring titles of some of our camps. The Eco-Explorers Camp teaches children at Pocono Plateau how to preserve God’s ecosystems and protect their natural environment.

Then there are Trailblazers, Pioneers, Challengers, Junior High Extreme, Experiments and Explosions, and Wilderness Adventure camps. But there’s also the irresistibly named Totally Awesome Random Fun Camp that is….well, just totally awesome.

Creek Stomp wilderness activity, Gretna Glen

Summer camp is not just a daytime activity. Innabah, Pocono Plateau and Gretna Glen all have after-hours or night owl camps–no early bedtimes allowed. And it’s not just for children alone. We offer several family camps and camps for children coupled with their parents, grandparents and other family and friends.

So much fun-loving and friend-making, learning and laughing, discovery and dreaming happens from week to week at the Eastern PA Conference’s summer camps, that the children and youth who come there leave indelibly changed by the total experience. Indeed, they make each of these incredibly beautiful and blessed oases what they are and rightly claim to be: “God’s place apart, transforming lives.” 

By John W. Coleman, Eastern PA Conference Communications Director

Campers wading through river, Carson Simpson Farmm