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 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.
Young Adult Leadership: An Essential Ministry of Camp and Conference Centers
Brian Frick, Presbyterian Mission Agency staff, Ah, the joy of a free summer! Schools out. What to do? Many young adults look forward to the freedom summer provides and want to take advantage of the time to recharge as well as enrich their life, no matter their journey. A large number of young adults turn to summer camp jobs. Initially they might view it as a fun job that gets them outside, which it is. However, they will soon realize it will be a life changing experience. They will be enriched in leadership, teamwork, problem solving as well as being called upon to be empathetic to the children and youth in their charge. They will also be stretched by their co-staff members who are roommates as well as workmates – a new experience for many. Camp work adds the gift of discernment – “Where is my life headed? What place will my faith play in my life? ” It also provides them with pride and self confidence when they realize, “Wow! I know more than I thought I did because I have to teach my faith and share my faith with others – even if I don’t know it all!”
Partnering to Share the Gospel: Day Camps at Churches
Rev. Betty Angelini, Crestfield Camp and Conference Center, Pittsburgh Presbytery
Building 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."
Summer Camp: Community, Faith, Transformation
Rev. Theresa MacDonald-Lee. Camp Kintail, Ontario
At 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.
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…..day 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.
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!
Discover Stony Point
Featured Presbyterian Center
Stony Point Center, an ecumenical and interfaith conference and retreat center of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), welcomes people of all faiths and nations to discern, discover, learn and lead.
Located just 34 miles north of New York City, the center offers overnight accommodations for up to 160 with more than a dozen indoor and outdoor meeting spaces for 10 to 200 people. Most of our rooms are fully accessible for people with disabilities and have wireless Internet access. Audiovisual equipment, teleconferencing, photocopying and fax are also available.
Because of Camp ...™
How will you contribute to the future of camping?
Our camps are transforming the lives of individuals from campers to adults. Our conference centers provide sacred space and welcoming hospitality for retreats and events. Spaces and programs for faith formation, community enrichment, leadership skills development and adventure experiences are essential for healthy development.
The Presbyterian Mission Agency is actively working to connect our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) centers with societal needs and trends. As our society and church changes, we are working to develop sustainable futures for these essential ministries.
Consider a donation to the Fund For Camp endowment to help secure the future.
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.
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."
"Hopewell takes you in and carves out a little section of your heart where it will stay forever."
"Camp Hopewell is just the kind of place where you know that everything is going to be okay."