I am deeply impressed by Friends’ camping ministry here in the Pacific Northwest. It is inspiring to recognize the breadth and diversity of our camp properties spread throughout the region. From Quaker Hill Camp in the resort community of McCall, Idaho, to Twin Rocks Friends Camp on the Oregon coast, Friends are blessed with a slate of pristinely-sited camps which showcase God’s wondrous creation and offer optimal locales for personal and spiritual growth for both youth and adults. Add to these Twin Lakes Friends Camp on Hayden Lake in North Idaho, Quaker Cove Camp in the San Juan Islands of Washington state, and the peaceful lakeside environs of Camp Tilikum near Newberg, Oregon, and it becomes apparent that Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM) has been entrusted with five incredible camp properties.
Recently, at the prompting of Youth/YAF Superintendent Rachelle Staley, a selection of staff and board members from these camps began gathering for regular “Camp Summit” retreats to foster increased communication and collaboration among the Friends camps. Also invited were representatives from NWYM boards of Christian Education and Discipleship, and Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
Rachelle states, “When I first started working for NWYM I was surprised how disconnected our camp programs were. Getting everyone together in the same space to network and collaborate has benefited our relationships and helped each area become less isolated. As I have attended the Camp Summits, I’ve been grateful for the humble wisdom shared among such important ministries.”
Camp Summit retreats occurred twice in 2012—in the spring at Tilikum, followed by a fall gathering at Quaker Hill. A third event is scheduled for this October (2013) at Quaker Cove. Much of the Camp Summit programming is geared toward sharing with one another: unique program ideas, safety strategies, administrative tools, and the simple joys, headaches, heartaches, and ministry successes which typically accompany camp. I always come away greatly encouraged by the thoughtful listening, seasoned words of wisdom, and heartfelt prayer which accompany the summits. And a side blessing has been the sharing of resources—nearly $5,000 was saved in 2013 due to creative, collaborative purchasing!
While all of the camps continue to operate independently with separate incorporation, boards, and leadership (thus ensuring strong local ownership and overall success) the Camp Summits promote a healthy, important, and enjoyable interdependence between us. Like Dennis Littlefield, executive director at Tilikum, stated: “It has been so great for us to meet together as camping leaders in the Northwest. We should have done it years ago! We care for each other and it is extra fun to share ideas and resources.”