Pocono Plateau Morning Sunrise

Camp & Retreat Centers welcome winter’s wisdom

People standing in a circle holding onto a rope, part of a connectionalism exercise“How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose,” wrote Thomas Wentworth Higginson in 1861, “if there were no winter in our year!”

Our year-round camp and retreat centers are getting a head start on the big chill, welcoming guests of all ages to discover “lessons of faith and beauty” at their winter retreats. Titles like “Winter Blast” and “Winter Jamboree” along with themes like “Growing Your Faith” and “Discover: Light for the Journey,” promise an ideal mix of sense and sensibility, as participants explore both the outer and inner dimensions of God’s creation.


Gretna Glen Camp & Retreat Center

Gretna Glen hosted its annual 24-hour Children’s Winter Blast Overnight last weekend, Dec. 4-5, for children in grades 1 to 6. The young retreaters reveled in a Christmas celebration of the birth of Jesus and dramatic, all-night storytelling, fun crafts, food, games and other activities.

Youth, in grades 6 to 12, will have their own Winter Blast Retreat Jan. 30-31, 2016. “Just imagine everything you love about summer jam-packed into one weekend…except with SNOW,” retreat organizers promise. “We’ll have fun playing crazy games, rocking out to some awesome worship and digging deeper into God’s Word.” Youth are invited to come with friends or with their church youth groups, and, as always, be prepared to make new friends. The cost is just $50.

A Children’s Spring Blast Overnight Retreat will follow on March 18-19, offering 24-hours of music, games, food, and memorable experiences during spring-break from school. The cost is $40.

Meanwhile, Gretna Glen’s Free Sunday Youth Events will raise the roof with lively fun, fellowship and faith formation among youth from various churches who gather there on Sundays, from 4 to 6 PM, on Jan. 17, Feb. 21, March 20 and April 17. For reservations and information, contact registrar Sheila Seaman at 717-273-6525 or registrar@gretnaglen.org.

Two weekends of Church Confirmation Camp will take place April 1-3 and April 8-10. Activities, discussions and reflections, focusing on the five vows of church membership affirmation–prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness–will help youth embark on new faith journeys for their lives. Download the the Brochure to register.

Gretna Glen 2015 Children's Winter Blast Retreat

Gretna Glen 2015 Children’s Winter Blast Retreat


Pocono Plateau Camp & Retreat Center

At Pocono Plateau Camp & Retreat Center young revelers will bid 2015 a fun farewell at the Children’s Winter Jamboree Retreat, Dec. 29-31. Kids in grades 3 to 6 will enjoy Gaga and other games indoors, and also sledding, broomball and ice skating outdoors (weather permitting), plus crafts, Bible sessions and a campfire with S’mores!   The cost is $89 each.

Junior and Senior High youth (grades 7 to 12) will have their Winter Blast Retreat also Dec. 29-31. They’ll celebrate the season by connecting with God, renewing their faith, and experiencing outdoor adventures, including late night Gaga, broomball, sledding and much more. The cost is $99 each.

The retreat center will later welcome junior-high age church youth groups with their adult leaders for a dynamic, challenging retreat titled “Growing Your Faith” Jan. 8-10, offering dialogues, meals and activities, including an off-site snow tubing trip. The cost is $129 per person. For every 10 youth registered, one adult leader can come for free.

And Pocono Plateau will host its weekend Church Confirmation Retreat Feb. 19-21, with the theme “Discover: Light for the Journey.” The annual weekend offers remarkable Christian growth and fellowship experiences for youth from across the conference, who get to enjoy group activities, recreation, savory food and snacks, teaching, reflection time and sharing. Retreat leaders will help them discover their sacred identity, the gift of God’s grace and their exciting place in the Body of Christ. The cost is $90 each, $30 per adult.


Innabah Camp and Retreat Center

Not to be outdone, Innabah Camp and Retreat Center will sponsor Challenge Camp for individuals with intellectual challenges, Dec 11-13 and Feb 5-7. A special, 49-year tradition, Challenge Camp costs $130 each for a priceless weekend of fellowship, fun, and food.

Innabah will host more heart-warming winter retreats for:

  • Women, titled Creative Hearts with Soul,” Jan 22-24, for $130 each;
  • Children, grades 3 to 6, Jan 22-24, for $100 each; and
  • Youth, grades 7 to 12, Jan 29-31, for $130 each.


Carson Simpson Farm

And Carson Simpson Farm, while closed for the winter season, is still open for now and offering branded camp clothing and blankets for sale from the camp store–making great surprise Christmas gifts for any child or teen. The staff will be in the office till Dec. 17, 6 PM, to arrange pickup of ordered items by Friday, Dec. 18. Download the order form.


Our three year-round camp and retreat centers will follow winter with spring activities, including work days when families, youth groups and individuals can help clean and prepare the sites for their open house events and summer camps. Gretna Glen will have its popular Gretna Gritty Mud Run May 7, an annual fundraiser that draws competitors from near and far to get down and dirty while climbing, crawling, running and jumping through their 3-mile obstacle course.

Visit the Camp & Retreat Ministries page on our Website and also each center’s individual Website to learn more about these exciting events and to register for them. And don’t miss the other memorable adventures provided at each location yearly for thousands of children, youth and adults.

Here, indeed, is where they discover “many lessons of faith and beauty,” in Higginson’s words. And yes, those lessons may reach their full bloom in summer. But during winter is when the seeds of wisdom and the wonders of God’s Creation begin their journey to life.

By John W. Coleman
Eastern PA Conference Communications Director