Summary of Insights, Challenges and Experiments from Mission Summit Conversations (June 2013)

  • Insights
    • Friends for life start at camp.
    • Camp allows you to be your true self.
    • Camp is a combination of tradition and creativity.
    • God is reaching down & touching young peoples’ lives in a place where they can retreat from everyday life & meet God.
  • Challenges
    • The base of support for camping is changing.
    • The plusses and minuses of cell phones & electronic gadgets.
    • Facilities range from tents to hotels.
    • Customized programs vs scheduling/staffing constraints.
    • Ministries vs building configurations.
  • Experiments
    • Should we own or rent facilities?
    • What about urban day camps?
    • Intergenerational camps
    • VBS variety of usage by immigrant groups

Summary of Insights, Challenges and Experiments from the Mission Table (November 2013)

  • Insights
    • Camping as future: is there a link between lack of kids in our camps and lack of young adults in our pews?
    • Costs have increased greatly – why?
      • Insurance, staff, food
      • Denominations historically subsidized camping, which has perennially been a money-losing proposition; now denominations and funding have shrunk
      • People were used to paying subsidized rates for church camping; now balk at higher prices
    • People are living in a “nature deficit,” b/c of technology, spending less time outdoors.
    • Post-9/11 world parents do not want to send their kids far away (helicopter generation), especially if camps restrict campers’ use of cell phones, etc.
  • Challenges
    • Camping has used funds that therefore cannot be used elsewhere within our churches/denomination.
    • Families we are serving (poor, urban, rural, etc.) and potential income sources (wealthy, suburban, etc.) are different groups; how can we encourage those with means to give so that those without can camp?
    • Christian culture expects camp to be less expensive b/c of history; the same family that will drop thousands on a vacation to Disney World expects church camp to be inexpensive.
  • Experiments/Projects
    • Needs:
      • Partnering with other organizations
      • Need an ABC-USA group to evaluate our overall camping ministry
      • Need to distinguish between “doing camping” and “owning properties” – the first can be done without the second!
      • Network ABC churches/regions to do camping at the facilities we do have.
    • Other non-church-owned camp options exist (is this an opportunity for us?).
    • “doing camping” and “owning camps (running business)” might not necessarily go together; can do the former without the latter.

Read the full notes:

Mission Summit Conversations:

Mission Table:

Views expressed are the sole opinion of conversation participants. They do not express the views of American Baptist Churches USA, or individual American Baptist churches. Conversation notes and summaries are shared to allow American Baptists and friends to easily review and use these Mission Summit Conversations and the Mission Table learnings as they wish.