Dear Manidokan Families and Friends,
We are thankful for what we are calling a transitional year at Manidokan Camp & Retreat Center. This summer we opened with a small but mighty summer staff and 58 volunteer counselors. These teams welcomed camper groups who were also smaller than usual, ate most meals outside, and had private swim times. Such changes, along with all campers and adults in camp having either vaccinations or negative COVID tests, allowed us to be open as a site this summer. While sometimes cohort living was frustrating, it allowed campers to come back together to adventure in the outdoors, to worship God with gladness, and to host our first two camper groups in the Hammock Shelter!
We were very excited this summer to share Mission Manidokan and a Racial Justice Program with campers each week. For Mission Manidokan 2021, we learned about Potomac River Keepers and their work through games, crafts, and stories. We also gave campers the choice to participate in a postcard advocacy campaign supporting clean waterways. Campers also gifted $1000 to River Keepers in memory of a local pioneer, Lee Baihly and the work that he did in stewardship and sustainability of the environment, particularly with waterways, as well as the opportunities he created for families to come to the water for fun recreational experiences, as the founder of River and Trail Outfitters. As part of our intentional Anti-Racism work, we creatively presented the story of the woman at the well and invited guest speakers to talk about Racial Justice during Thursday evening worship. We prepared campers for this discussion throughout the week by exploring identity, respect, and perspective in our camper covenants and throughout team building. The use of camper journals and having time to ask questions of our speakers provided deeper exploration and commitment to the work of racial justice and healing.
There were many transitions for retreat groups too. Some 2021 highlights include:
- 19% new groups!
- 3-year contract with Camp Connect (our Foster Sibling Camp partnership)
- NEW Yoga group retreat partnership
- BWC Conference Inaugural Living Well Retreat for Clergy
- Director Kirstin offered leadership to Clergy Wellness Retreats and to Young Adult Spiritual Immersion Retreat Planning
In the spring we hosted many tenting groups and then in the fall, we were able to offer overnights in our buildings again, for those who were ready to gather indoors together. This included family retreats, Men’s groups, youth groups, school groups, and a Yoga retreat. We adapted mealtime, program, and living space practices to meet changing COVID metrics and we came back strong!
We are incredibly thankful for specific donations of time and money this year helped us to accomplish the following:
- Complete the 16 bed Hammock Shelter
- Replace the deck on the Pastor Cabin Porch
- Purchase Radios to communicate throughout camp more safely
- Purchase a chainsaw, an office copier, and do major trail vehicle repairs
- Purchase bunkbeds and mattresses for the renovation of the Fireside Cottage
- Purchase material and build a new low ropes course team element
Generous gifts from churches and individuals have also prepared us for beginning next year with funds for outdoor kitchen, replacing rotting cabin siding, and begin construction of an elementary aged Adventure Trail.
Finally, we have had some large staff transitions towards the end of this year. On October 1 we said goodbye to our long-time Maintenance Director Scott Norris as he moved to a different job. We plan to have a larger gathering this spring so more people can say thank-you to Scott for the commitment he has had to getting camp ready for campers and guests. He has a true heart for mission. We prayerfully and intentionally moved a few puzzle pieces, and we are happy to announce that our Assistant Director Steve will keep that responsibility and move from our Kitchen into the Maintenance and Services role. Jason Rhoads, one of our cooks, will move into our first ever stand-alone Food Service Director position in January. And finally, we are excited to complete our team with a fourth member, a new Program Coordinator! Please pray with us these next months as we seek to hire for this year-round position.
We may have more transition years to come, but at this point, we are feeling a bit of relief as we look at our year. The phrase, “we are all in this together” certainly speaks volumes. We are thankful for the Baltimore-Washington Conference, and the Council on Finance and Administration, who have been an incredible support to us. Their financial partnership has allowed us to retain our full-time staff, care for facilities, and explore new ways to be in ministry in a season that continues to require flexibility and change. We are especially thankful for each camper, parent, pastor, and congregation. Finally, we could have done nothing without our summer and year-round volunteers, our summer staff, and the churches who help to send kids to camp! You adapted to the health policy changes and we worked well alongside one another to create a summer where campers continued to learn about themselves and experience God’s love through community, adventure, and creation!
Sending Christmas Love from Your Manidokan Staff and Our Families!
Enjoy this camp themed wordsearch.
Enjoy this Camp S’more Mystery