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Camps and Conference Centers

Fantastic Retreats at PC(USA) Camp and Retreat Centers

rocky-trail-steps-400pxGoing on retreat, a practice modeled by Jesus himself (Mark 6:45–46), has long been a cornerstone of Christian faith formation. A retreat provides an intentional time apart to experience a new awareness of the presence of God. It encourages an unhurried pace conducive to rest and relaxation, which allows one to return to daily life renewed for the high call of discipleship. Retreats are great for youth, families, and adult groups, as well as for organizations and sessions.

A good retreat is well organized.  A retreat planner guide is available on this page resource section or by clicking below.  This guide, from Menucha Conference Center near Portland, Oregon, can be adapted for use at any retreat center.  Work with your retreat center staff to make sure your retreat is as successful as you dream.

Retreat Planning Guide

Partnering to Share the Gospel:  Day Camps at Churches

Rev. Betty Angelini, Crestfield Camp and Conference Center, Pittsburgh Presbytery
day-camps-400pxBuilding on the deep faith and leadership impact overnight camp has on children and youth, camps, like Pittsburgh Presbytery’s outdoor ministry site Crestfield, located in southwest Pennsylvania are finding transformative success in partnering with congregations for day camp at their churches and in their community.  “Collaborations such as this have an immediate impact on furthering Christian witness in communities of need”, reports Rev. Dr. Doug Portz, Senior Associate Minister for Pittsburgh Presbytery.  “We are excited in Pittsburgh Presbytery to see how such partnerships directly touch the lives of countless children with the love of Jesus Christ, equip and re-energize disciples in local congregations, as well as, teach and build missional skills and capacity for continuing Ministries of outreach in our twenty first century context.”

Find out how Crestfield and Pittsburgh Presbytery do it and how you can do it too!

Summer Camp:  Community, Faith, Transformation

Rev. Theresa MacDonald-Lee. Camp Kintail, Ontario

westside-students-at-ferncliff-98-400pxAt summer camp it is impossible to not experience the transformative love of God.  From first thing in the morning as we raise our voices in praise to the quiet devotion conversations in the cabin as the sun goes down, each day is filled and overflowing with the joy of the Lord.  The growth at camp happens at every level.  One child will grow emotionally, learning to navigate new friendships.  Another will grow physically, being challenged by a ropes course.  Another child will grow spiritually, learning that they are loved and forgiven for the first time.  Campers, staff, parents, volunteers, and congregations are all part of this process, allowing children to have a genuine experience of God, which is one of the key factors that will lead to future involvement in a local community of faith.

Learn more about summer camping

Mission Partnership Comes ALIVE at Camp!

Rev. David Gill, Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center, Little Rock, AR

I remember the point when the direction for our camp became crystal clear.  It came during our Confirmation Camp.  The format of those camps called for six brief talks from Teaching Elders or Christian Educators on topics such as “What it Means to be a Christian,”  “Why Become a Local Church Member.”  The youth went into small groups after each talk and started creating their own church, step by step.  They wrote the mission statement (try doing that in 20 minutes with your Session!), developed their order of worship, came up with a budget, and more.  They named their church (there weren’t any First Presbyterians!) and finally they drew the floor plans for the building (assuming they would have one).  Each group presented their church to the whole group.

I kept the drawings over the years.  What amazed and inspired me was that virtually all their buildings had mission not only in the budget, but in the building.  A food pantry….clothes closets….blood donation clinic….English as a Second Language classroom… care for low income families….soup kitchen, to name some.  Wow!  It made me think: ”Why should a camp be any different?”  We all know that churches need to be engaged in mission to be healthy.  Why should a faith-based camp get an exemption for this spiritual principle?  Answer: It shouldn’t.

From that point we were committed to becoming a missional camp.

Find out how they did it!

Featured camp staff testimonials

For more than 100 years, camp and conference ministries have been changing the lives of campers, staff and adults through faithful programming and spaces to retreat. Below are testimonies submitted by some of those whose lives have been impacted by our Presbyterian camp and conference centers.


Jennifer Parkhurst
Highlands Presbyterian Camp and Retreat Center

After I had been at Highlands for a while, I began to feel an inner peace that I’d been lacking for so long.”


Daniel Howie
Camp Hopewell

“Hopewell takes you in and carves out a little section of your heart where it will stay forever.”


Mary Tyler
Camp Hopewell

“Camp Hopewell is just the kind of place where you know that everything is going to be okay.”

The web site for the Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association has a handy map that shows where Presbyterian camps and conference centers are located. You can find that here.

Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association

Since 1964, staff and volunteers from Presbyterian camps and conference centers have gathered for fellowship, education and the mutual support of their ministries. This organization is called the Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association. This close-knit group brings together people who support and represent the 156 Presbyterian camps and conference centers in the United States and Canada. The programs and fellowship of PCCCA (pronounced “P – triple C – A”) allow these individuals to hone their skills and to bring knowledge and resources back to their ministries. The PCCCA “family” serves as an incredible source of professional and personal support.

The mission of PCCCA is to equip leaders for vibrant and sustainable ministries. It seeks to provide a common voice and shared vision for Presbyterian camp and conference ministry. The association offers many educational and connectional events. PCCCA also provides a quarterly enewsletter, a directory of camp and conference centers, representation on national committees, consulting services, an online repository of resources, job listings, special discounts on products/services and a network of collegial support.

The organization is open to all persons who value this important ministry. You may be a full-time camp and conference professional, a board/committee member, a summer staff person, a retired camp and conference professional, a volunteer, a student or just an interested person. You are invited to join PCCCA!

Camp and Conference Ministries is a ministry office of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Staff:  Brian Frick, Associate (Email)
(502) 403-9363


Purpose statement

Support the advancement and transformation of camp and conference ministry within and affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).


The Associate for Camp and Conference ministry reports to and is responsible to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board through the Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry area of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.  Further input is provided by an informal advisory group of experienced camp and conference ministry professionals.

The role of the Associate for Camp and Conference ministry is to:

  • Engage in the changing nature of our church and culture
  • Identify ways that PC(USA) affiliated camp and conference ministry will:
    • be affected by those changes,
    • facilitate those changes,
    • be equipped to meet those changes
    • Inspire excellence by sharing success stories with PC(USA) affiliated camp and conference centers and the church at large
    • Equip Gather resources and connections to equip PC(USA) affiliated camp and conference centers
    • Connect PC(USA) affiliated camp and conference centers and ministries inside and outside the PC(USA) as well as other non-PC(USA) camp and conference centers
    • Promote PC(USA) camp and conference centers
    • Integrate PC(USA) camp and conference ministry resourcing with the Presbyterian Mission Agency work plan and goals
    • Consult with leaders of PC(USA) affiliated camps to adapt their ministries
    • Engage ecumenical partner denomination camp and conference ministries to better resource Christian camp and conference ministry
    • Inform and advise Mid-Councils on current uses and support of PC(USA) affiliated camp and conference ministries
    • Consult with Mid-Councils to facilitate adaption of their use and support of their camp and conference centers in the context of a changing future
    • Serve as liaison and consultant to Stony Point Center and Ghost Ranch Conference Center and their governing body – the Presbyterian Mission Agency
    • Coordinate with Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association to better equip, connect and inspire the work of PC(USA) affiliated camp and conference ministries
    • Coordinate with the PCCCA Consultants Network to better serve the current and future consulting needs of our PC(USA) affiliated camp and conference centers

Developing Understandings:

  • Camp and conference ministry at its root is the experience of Christ through intentional faith-based communities.  These communities can last for an evening, a weekend, a week, a summer, or years.
  • The church and society in which we exist and serve has changed drastically in the time since our camping program sites were purchased and we started implementing this ministry.
  • Camp and conference ministry has changed, broadened, and focused throughout the years and is being called on to do so more rapidly to meet the needs of God’s people today.
  • Camp and conference ministry is unique in the church context in that it provides a place outside of our daily lives (away from home and away from our weekly worship spaces) where we can encounter Christ free from the busyness of our world in a way that transforms us to be more engaged disciples of Christ in the world and our personal lives
  • Our centers were purchased or accepted as gifts to serve as vehicles for the implementation of this ministry.  Physical sites are still important and are a valuable asset to this ministry and the church.  Physical sites are not always necessary for the continued implementation of this ministry.
  • Camp and conference ministry is a misnomer because though residential camp is one incarnation of the ministry, this ministry can happen on retreats, at day camp, at conferences, in churches, traveling, online and applied to a multitude of ministries within the Church universal.  Conferences are often confused as being large gatherings of a corporate or interest group basis.
  • Centers for Mission and Ministry – our physical centers and our staff will increasingly be utilized in creative ways that partner with and benefit other ministries and missions within the church.  PDA, traveling day camps at churches, worshiping communities, young adult leadership incubators, eco-stewardship centers, retreat support ministries, leadership training centers, mission training centers (Solar Under the Sun, Living Waters for the World…)

Why Presbyterian Centers?

Presbyterian camping offers faith-filled encounters with Christ in a spiritually safe environment. True to our denominational Reformed tradition, campers get to experience the saving grace of God in a spirit-filled Christian community. By living their faith, campers get an opportunity to more fully integrate their faith into their daily lives.

Conference and retreat ministry

Presbyterian Conference Centers offer hospitality and welcome to all God’s children in locations surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. Time away from our busy lives to reflect on our faith, to formulate new mission and vision and to build trusting relationships with others reminds us to keep our faith central to all we do. Presbyterian Conference Centers are also great places to bring meetings, schools and family reunions!


2016 Camp and Conference Emphasis Sunday Materials

Camp and Conference Sunday Worship Aids

Camps and Conference ministries transform lives!  It’s a great way to strengthen your ministry and hearing this from you and your congregation is important.


Fantastic Retreat Planners Guide

Going on retreat, a practice modeled by Jesus himself (Mark 6:45–46), has long been a cornerstone of Christian faith formation. A retreat provides an intentional time apart to experience a new awareness of the presence of God. It encourages an unhurried pace conducive to rest and relaxation, which allows one to return to daily life… Read more »

Partnering to Share the Gospel: Day Camps at Churches

 Rev. Betty Angelini, Crestfield Camp and Conference Center, Pittsburgh Presbytery Imagine your church filled with children and youth joyfully singing, laughing and sharing-not just during a week in the summer but throughout the year. Imagine youth and young adults sharing in the leadership responsibilities of such activities. These children, youth and young adults are from… Read more »

Mission Partnerships at Camps

The summer camp and retreat center you relate to can become a significant partner in outreach ministry.  Popping up around the country are some innovative centers engaging in alleviating hunger, combatting climate change, supporting missionaries and their families, helping with disaster assistance, promoting local food production, and more.  Ferncliff Camp in Arkansas has forged a… Read more »
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