Jun 19, 2024 | John W. Coleman

Summer camps at the Eastern PA Conference’s four Camp & Retreat Centers blast off this week and next, launching perhaps several thousand children and youth into a season of enjoyable, exploratory experiences, as they are encouraged, taught and guided by creative camp staff and volunteers.

“A tired camper is a happy camper,” says Carson Simpson Farm in Hatboro on its website. “We pack each day with memory-making activities that keep kids moving and trying new things.” Daily, from start to finish, the four camps will keep their launchpads busy, elevating young campers through vivacious games and group activities, active sports and recreation, healthy meals and savory snacks, and potentially life-changing explorations of God’s world and God’s word.  

Gretna Glen in Lebanon celebrates 65 years of seeing young campers scampering amid its 200 acres of scenic hills and woodlands, exploring nature, developing friendships, broadening their experiences and personalities, learning new skills and embracing new faith journeys.

Liberated from their smartphones and televisions, campers often remark that they feel closer to God here. They learn social skills and teamwork, and enjoy time for unstructured play. They grow more independent and discover who they really are. They develop lifelong abilities. They gain resiliency while conquering fears. And they experience success and become more confident because camp teaches kids what they can do.

Themes, activities that cater to diverse groups

“We’ve got a lineup of themes and activities that cater to diverse groups,” say the folks at Innabah in Spring City, “from a camper’s first overnight experience to a grandparent’s family camp adventure. Most importantly, each program encourages campers to dive deeper into their relationship with Jesus.”

“This is a life changing experience,” said Sarah Pinard, a member of Innabah’s Site Committee. “I myself was a summer staffer and cannot recommend the experience enough! In fact, if you look at our social media pages you will see profiles of former staffers and how they are using the skills they learned at camp in their current jobs.”

Pocono Plateau in Cresco, has 400 registered for camp so far—its highest number since the Covid pandemic. A big part of the reason is the launch of new day camp with over 150 registered to date. “We are optimistic about exceeding our goal of 450 total for the summer,” say staff.

Pocono Plateau is committed to camp ministry because “we believe it transforms lives, builds confidence, and shapes the faith formation of our children and youth. We welcome all campers just as they are, in a loving and accepting environment. Past campers return because of the strong communal bonds formed with other campers and staff, and because of the recognition that something magical happens at camp.”

Many express feeling loved and accepted

A Christian community at summer camp provides children with structure and support, while providing a deeper awareness of their place in God’s world. Young campers come alive in a welcoming community with others. Many express feeling loved and accepted at camp when they struggle to experience the same feelings in school or other social settings.

Through interactive experiences with the natural world, campers develop a sense of wonder and desire for environmental stewardship of God’s creation. Engaging with the unplugged world builds new skills and encourages curious, creative interaction with the world.

Read “You are INVITED! Summer Camp 2024,” and view the EPA-UMC-Summer-Camps-2024-Combined-Schedule. Also,enjoy fun images from the Birdhouse Building Workshop offered during the Eastern PA Annual Conference and taught by Camp & Retreat Center staff.