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Bishop's Appeal offering benefits youth campers

Posted: June 10 2019 at 12:31 PM
Author: Anne Marie Gerhardt


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Outdoor and Retreat Ministries Executive Director Jeff Casey shares the board's goals to expand camps and reach more youth.

Thanks to the generosity of NIC churches, more children will be able to experience camp and grow closer to Christ. This year’s special Bishop’s Appeal offering at Annual Conference totaled $53,437 to help support Outdoor and Retreat Ministries, which operates two camps, Wesley Woods in Williams Bay, Wis., and Camp Reynoldswood in Dixon, Ill. The money will go toward “camperships” to help send children to camp who otherwise would not financially be able to attend. 

The Aurora District took home the coveted traveling trophy for the most giving per capita, edging out last year's winner the Elgin District! (Aurora came in first in 2017 and 2015).

Outdoor and Retreat Ministries Executive Director Jeff Casey said the money will also be used to expand camps and reach out into the community. “The easiest outreach is to send a kid to camp,” said Casey. “In addition to the money, we want to challenge each church to find and send five unchurched youth to camp, and one of their own “churched” youth to camp as a chaperone who will be trained.”

Casey said one goal is to expand the J.O.Y (Jesus, Others, and You) camp model, which has been successful and self-sustaining in the DeKalb and Aurora Districts for several years, to youth and adults throughout the conference via District networks.

Other goals include building up the Chicago Metro Camp, encouraging campers to participate in the spring and fall work parties alongside adults to receive a discount off camp fees, creating a youth winter weekend retreat, and starting a new Rockford District summer camp.

Chuck Rea from First UMC in Hinckley and the co-chair of theOutdoor and Retreat Ministries board, said they are grateful for the continued support and ministry from so many of NIC’s congregations. “Your help with work parties, supplies, and other volunteer opportunities is deeply appreciated, said Rea. “In these days of close attention to budgets, we offer you many mission opportunities close to home. Yet, these are not items reflected in our annual budget.”

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The Aurora District collected the most donations per capita for the Bishop's Appeal offering to support NIC's youth camps.

Rea said costs to operate the camps include $150,000.00 per year on deferred maintenance, which covers the $20,000 for the swimming pool’s parts, pumps, and repairs and $10,000 for removal of dying trees that pose a risk to buildings and camper play areas.

“The Bishop's Appeal is not just about money,” said Rea. “It's about relationships. It's about boots on the ground ministry. It's not about the camps, it's about you, the local church, and your ministry in your community and amongst yourselves.”


Beyond the Bishop’s Appeal, churches may donate to the camps through the Rainbow Covenant. To find more information on the programs and camps offered, visit www.niccamp.org.

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