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Send a youth to camp!

Posted: April 3 2019 at 04:10 PM
Author: By Jeff Casey, Dir. of Outdoor and Retreat Ministries


NIC Outdoor and Retreat Ministries are excited to be designated as the 2019 Bishop's Appeal because our over-arching purpose is to support and strengthen local congregations in their mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

In the last year, we have coordinated a major paradigm shift among our Board and staff, moving away from recruiting campers for camp to partnering with local churches to grow their laity – adult and youth – through outdoor retreats and service experiences that develop intentional community, experiential leadership, interpersonal communication skills, and enhanced self-esteem—all via tangible, hands-on accomplishments.

During the past four years, we have successfully laid the foundation to emphasize District-wide Summer Camps and Family Camps, while also introducing new winter camps. Specifically, we have consolidated 14 specialty camps with an average attendance of eight into three broad-based camps with an average attendance of 60 and added a week-long Family Camp that serves approximately 60 campers.

Moving to a district-wide focus will enable us to better serve churches and better grow their youth, adults, and families – regardless of the churches’ geographic location. J.O.Y. Camp, our most successful camp, serves the DeKalb and Aurora Districts, while Woodland Camp primarily serves youth from the Elgin District. J.O.Y. Camp successfully integrates clergy and lay leadership, and trains/recruits all of its own chaperones from among J.O.Y. Campers, making it a self-sustaining discipleship camp that strengthens the local churches who participate every year.

The purpose of the Bishop's Appeal is to enable us to target children from all districts who would not otherwise be able to attend camps.

Our goals:

• Expand the successful J.O.Y. Camp model to youth and adults throughout the Conference geography via District networks

• Introduce additional weeks of family camp

• Develop new winter weekend camps with district-wide focus While we would love to expand to all of the Districts this year, it takes time and resources to coordinate, recruit and train chaperones, and counselors.


This year, we are adding a Chicago Metro Camp (Southern & Northwest Districts) at Reynoldswood, and a second week of Family Camp at Wesley Woods this summer. In 2020, we will add a Rockford District Camp and a new week of Family Camp both at Reynoldswood.

Your investment in camps through the Bishop's Appeal helps the camps financially and helps local UM congregations by developing their youth and adults through camp discipleship and leadership experiences. You may, of course, send youth to any camp that you or they prefer, but we encourage grouping by District in order to strengthen long-term relationships, witness, and fellowship, while also helping our youth to realize that they are not alone in their Christian faith.

Watch for some exciting news and proven success stories from NIC Camps in the coming weeks. Interested in distributing NIC Camp promotional materials? Want to request a NIC Camps staff or board member to provide a presentation about camps to your congregation? Please send an e-mail to To help support this year’s Bishop’s appeal, look for more information and resources at

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