“We are blessed to have a thriving ministry and to equip participants to serve in love,” said Rob Watson, director of Camps and Conferences. In 2014, 1,414 campers attended Camp Capers – an 18% increase from 2013; 913 people attended family Camp at Mustang Island Conference Center (MICC) – a 6% increase; and 78 attended retreats at Duncan Park, a 23% increase.
“Even more impressive is the love and generosity of the people of this diocese – to lift up children, youth, and adults so they can experience Jesus’ love,” said Watson.
“Every single dime we had for scholarships for our summer programs was distributed in 2014. We will not turn away any youth or family that needs help going to one of our camps,” said Watson.
At camp, participants are able to experience a Christian community and unconditional love. “That is too important not to share with everyone,” said Watson. 440 children and over 20 families received financial help this past year.
Watson reported that a new retreat house at MICC was dedicated on December 8 with ten bedrooms and two breakout rooms. Now plans are underway for a new welcome center – with much-needed elevator access to the main conference room and staff offices.
Camp Capers continues to see facility and grounds improvements, with a new garden that brings symmetry and beauty and a new entrance at to camp. A new Activities Building is coming – with high ceilings and windows and a state-of-the-art Audio-Visual system. Next on the list is a new dining hall that will feed 300 people with a state-of-the art kitchen.
Duncan Park also continues to receive improvements. In 2014 a pergola was built overlooking the St. Vrain River, toilets were installed in each dorm room, and electrical lines were put underground.
Meredith Rogers, program director at Camp Capers, delivered the report on the ministry of Camp Capers. She said the 10-bed garden and environmental education with the Sewanee interns was a highlight for all campers last summer and will continue this year with an additional lesson on composting.
“We continue to be blessed by the new 108 acres – last summer, each Sr. High session camped on the new property, and recently the Father–Son retreat hiked and gathered to cook their own food,” said Rogers. “Our facilities well used. We can host up to three groups at one time, and we often do,” she said.
This past year was a year of firsts. Camp Capers presented the first Traveling Day Camp at Trinity, Victoria – a missional camp with a goal to reach out to families that have not been to camp and to share transforming love of Jesus Christ.
This summer four Traveling Day Camps will take place at different geographical sites across the diocese.
Rogers shared a reflection from Kayla Garrett that was given at St. Francis, Victoria, this year during Camp Sunday: “My camp family taught me how to love. Above all camp gives me hope. Capers shows me there is always life, always love, always hope. The cycle of camp is from being the one served to being the one serving. Camp calls me to serve.”
Johnson Jeffers, program director for MICC and Duncan Park, then gave a combined report, saying that all programs continue to grow, including the various retreats throughout the year and Family Camp in the summer. Due to growth of these amazing programs, MICC hired an assistant family camp director last year, and this year that position will have an expanded role.
“The growth in numbers, facilities, and staff is great. It seems to answer how our programs are doing. But these are not the most important questions,” said Jeffers. At their recent Camps and Conferences staff retreat they talked about why – why camp? The over-arching theme was because camp shows us the kingdom of God on earth.
“You can see it in the relationships; in a father taking time to teach his son to fish; in Texas children who have never traveled throw snowballs at each other; in diverse adults from across the state to create an outdoor worship space and prayer together in Colorado; in the joy in the faces of grandparents sharing a s’more with their grandchildren – these are the reasons for the quantitative and qualitative growth,” said Jeffers.
The purchase of Duncan Park provides a permanent location for the Colorado Adventure Program. This year there will be nine camps over six weeks with continued partnerships with Good Samaritan Community Services and St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. Working with the Rev. Becca Stevens and Thistle Farms in Tennessee, Duncan Park is working to create a retreat week for the women survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking.
Camps and Conferences continue to host the TRACK program and welcome Wounded Warriors throughout the year to Camp Capers and MICC.
“The strongest partnership is with you all, the diocesan family. All of this is possible because collectively we achieve more. It is only through these relationships that we are able to spread the kingdom of God. This is a healing partnership – each side is the healer and the healed and we see Christ in each other,” said Jeffers.