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“Have you considered my servant Job?” —Job 1:3

Camps and Conference Centers
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Pastor and youth leader testimonials

Annely Noble

Highlands means so much to me because when I am at camp I can feel the love. In my estimation, there is no other place that embodies the Christian spirit as much and as well as Highlands Camp ... camp was instrumental in our children’s “spiritual awakening.” If I were not still working, I might be a full-time camp volunteer!

John Buchanan,

Pastor, Fourth Church, Chicago, Illinois

It was at Camp Shekinah in Pennsylvania that I, in my childhood and adolescence, first encountered clergypersons outside their traditional roles and attire. Camp directors, counselors, were Presbyterian ministers. They were lively, bright and great fun. They were models and mentors, in them I saw a whole new picture of ministry and experienced a life-long tug at my heart that is very much still there.

It also was at Camp Shekinah that I first wore a Celtic cross. One of the counselors, a Princeton Seminary student, wore a Celtic cross around his neck. He told me people who wanted to be Presbyterian ministers wear them. I purchased one at the camp store and put it on. I cannot imagine how my life would have turned out without Camp Shekinah.

First published in The Outlook, January 2007, used with permission.

Laura Mendenhall

President, Columbia Theological Seminary

I began attending church camp during elementary school, continued as a youth, and worked at Mo Ranch as a college student. Through the encouragement of lifetime friendships made at camp and through the mentoring of adult leaders in those camps, I began to believe that God might use the offering of my life in Christ’s ministry. As a seminary president, I hear story after story of God’s first whispers that result in a call to ministry being heard at a church camp or conference. Where did my daughter, the child of a pastor with several church homes, who is now serving in Southern Sudan as a Child Protection Officer, select for the site of her wedding? The church camp where she attended as a child and worked as a young adult — John Knox Ranch in Fisher, Texas. I give thanks to God for the ministry of Presbyterian camp and conference centers.

First published in The Outlook, January 2007, used with permission.

Susan R. Andrews

Executive presbyter, Presbytery of the Hudson River

My spiritual high at church camp came in my late twenties when, as a young pastor, I designed and led a week for junior highs at Camp Brainerd in Lehigh Presbytery. Weaving woods, scripture, campfires, and s’mores into the mystery of creation was transforming for me — and for my young charges. And I watched awkward adolescents melt into the mystery of spiritual community. In a high tech, competitive world, the simple gift of church camp is not only counter-cultural. It is an invitation to encounter the Living God who never lets us go.

First published in The Outlook, January 2007, used with permission.

Bryan McClain

I was a counselor from 1984 to 1987. Camp Hopewell was and remains a very special place for me. Following a very serious car wreck in 1983, I became a camp counselor at Hopewell at the suggestion of my friend Melinida Skelton (Meme). I did this because the injury I sustained to my back in the wreck hampered my ability to lift heavy objects which is what I would have been doing in construction.

What started out as a job until I could get stronger became the first firm step in my calling to the ministry. My love for kids and the outdoors and the opportunity to grow in my Christian faith came together in this incredible experience known as Camp Hopewell. It was so impressive that as I returned to Virginia from active duty service as an Air Force chaplain, I took my two oldest children for their first Camp Hopewell experience. They loved it. Hopwell is very much the springboard of my ministry.


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