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2023 Summer Camps Series

Methodist camps back in full operation

Kayaking has grown at camps.  Photo by Twinlow


Pacific Northwest United Methodist Church (UMC) Conference camps, including Lazy F in Manastash Canyon in the Eastern Cascades, Twinlow on Lower Twin Lake near Rathdrum, Idaho, Ocean Park on the Washington Coast and Indianola on Puget Sound are fully open for summer 2023.

"We are back to doing what we do best without all the restrictions of the past three years," said Alan Rogstad, executive director camp ministry for the four UMC camps.

"We're aware of some may have lingering COVID concerns, so we are doing appropriate screening and taking precautions, but that will not limit the camp experience significantly," he said.

With needing nearly 60 staff for the four camps and recruiting primarily young adults, Alan has found staffing is still a challenge. Recruitment for the summer was at 70 percent as of mid-May.

"Staffing camps and seasonal jobs have been a challenge nationwide in the post-COVID culture," he pointed out. "There is demand for more pay, given that counselor positions are 24/7. Even high school, college and young adults want time off. We offer most weekends off and in some cases a mid-summer week off when a large group comes to rent one of our camp facilities for their own programming."

UMC camps run every week from the third week of June through the second week of August, with different camps for different age levels.

In addition, starting during COVID, the camps at Twinlow and Lazy F have offered a full schedule of day camps on site.

Day-camp children come from nearby communities for the day and share the site with the resident camps and specialty camps. Day camps are not offered at Ocean Park Camp, which is farther from town.

"There is a shift in what families are looking for," Alan said. "Families can enroll kids in day camps any week. It gives kids and families more options."

For the most part, day campers and sleep-away campers are separate and have different programs, but both use the waterfront and have lunch. At Lazy F, they also eat some meals together.

"Day camps have more younger children with more games and crafts. At Lazy F, they are for first to sixth graders, and at Twinlow for first to fifth graders," Alan said. "Both have their own staff leaders and teach a common Bible-based curriculum.

Residential—traditional overnight—camps for first through those leaving 12th grade—have more hiking, challenge courses and adventure activities, plus campfires. Residential camps will have the full range of activities this year.

Twinlow offers three sessions of primary camps. For elementary children in grades three to six, there are six options of lake camps, adventure camps, arts and sciences camps and a 4-H STEM camp, which is an adventure camp. Middle schoolers have water sports, fine arts, 4-H STEM and basic options. High schoolers have a water sports or basic camps.

Alan expects more day and residential campers this year than last.

While most campers are United Methodist, more are from the general population and local communities than in the past, he said.

Lazy F includes a Summer String Academy, in its ninth year, for sixth to ninth grade budding musicians, a family camp and a "Grand Camp" for grandchildren entering K to 6th grade and grandparents.

"Our camps have grown, and we market them  beyond United Methodist churches," Alan said.

This year, Twinlow has added a new boat and other water toys as part of the ongoing process of replacing and upgrading equipment, Alan said.

The camps offer a time to "play, pray and grow."

Kristen Moon is director of Twinlow and Dave Burfeind is director at Lazy F.

Through the year, churches and other groups rent the facilities as well.

"When COVID concerns lessened a little bit, the floodgates seemed to open with groups looking for places to do retreats. It's a return to more of what we were used to," Alan said, "like people are making up for lost time with church groups, men's and women's groups, crafting and quilting groups, and 12-step groups, among others."

He finds the range of groups growing as some are finding hotels more expensive and realizing that the camps can meet their needs.

Dave told Alan he had never seen as busy of a year as 2023 is shaping up to be at Lazy F.

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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, June 2023