Executive Director Todd Bartlett's Reflections:

What are our Grounding Elements?

Over the next couple of months, I will be sharing some reflections about important elements to our experiences at our camps and retreat center. The current list begins with the physical elements of: land, water, sky and fire. That series will be followed by elements related to the human experience of being in Christian community in the setting of our camps and retreat center. The elements that will be a part of the second series are: hospitality, learning, wisdom, self-esteem, and gratitude.

During this first year I have had the privilege to tour all of our camp and retreat sites and to look at them through the lenses of the Executive Director. In the past I had seen these sites as a member of the Board and as a colleague when I was the director of the Collins Retreat Center. I have known for some time the life-changing ministry that we do at all of our sites. Now I have added the knowledge of the beauty and sacredness of every site and I am beginning to get a “feel” for the land.

When I tell those unfamiliar with our United Methodist Camping system about my work and the locations where we do ministry, they are shocked by the distances between our sites. Their surprise is an invitation for me to tell them about the unique character of our sites. Some are densely forested: Collins Retreat Center, Camp Latgawa and Suttle Lake.  Some sit in the valley surrounded by mountains: Sawtooth and Wallowa Lake.  And one stands on the edge of the churning Pacific Ocean: Camp Magruder.

Each of these sacred places provides the opportunity to engage and experience the mystery of God working in this world. They “ground” us so that we can find something familiar for our lives. Many of you know the need of having a place that you can return to where you might encounter God, a loving community, and the breath of the Holy Spirit. These sites provide an opportunity for all who sojourn on the land and to be aware of the movement of God in their life.

Many campers and guests have told me that when they cross the threshold of one of our sites they immediately feel a sense of ease and calm. I am convinced that during nearly 100 years of camping, with prayer, worship, music, and community-building, that the spirit of the people called United Methodist and the Spirit of God have conspired to create this sense of peace and calm on this land that we steward.

If you have visited any of our sites how has this Spirit spoken to you?  If you have not yet visited any of these sites, I look forward to hearing about your visit and how the Spirit speaks to you in your journey. 

See you around the campfire soon,

Suttle Lake Camp Remembers Art McEldowney

This week the life of Art McEldowney (1938-2017) was remembered at a celebration of life at Bend First United Methodist Church.  Art was a faithful volunteer and shared generously his many talents and gifts with numerous organizations. Camp and Retreat Ministries was blessed by Art’s contributions, especially at Suttle Lake Camp where Art was a camper in his youth and served as a faithful member of the site ministry team in his retirement. 

Art could often be seen sporting a tie-dyed camp shirt and a wood cookie that read “Nature Nut” (or more recently “Rock Art”) as he worked on the camp’s wireless system, helped with a maintenance project, or led a nature activity.  His stream ecology workshop was an annual favorite at Creation Vacation, where he also brought cool ranch flavored grass hoppers for campers to try.  His face would light up when a child would stick her tongue out to show her parent the grasshopper legs. Art loved to share his appreciation for God’s creation with others and sought to inspire them to care for the natural world. After the B&B fire burned close to Suttle Lake Camp in 2003, Art was quick to come take pictures and would return to those same locations over the years to collect photos that showed the change in landscape over time. 

Art and his family lived all over the world, first serving in Germany in the army, and then serving the US Dept. of State allowing him the pleasure and privilege of living in Thailand, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and England. His native state of Oregon was always “home” though. We are thankful that Art also found a home at Suttle Lake Camp. Art was excited to share this camp home with his grandchildren as 2 of the 3 have reached camping age.

Art is survived by his wife of 53 years, Jane (Nurse Ladybug); daughter and son-in-law, Tara and Greg Hartley; son and daughter-in-law, Eric and Tanya McEldowney; grandchildren, Mackenzie, Mason, and Ryan McEldowney; brother, Ralph; and sister, Coleen (Bill) Swettman. Art’s love for nature, family, and God were evident in all he did. 

The family has asked that remembrances may be sent to Suttle Lake Camp or the United Methodist Commission on Relief c/o First United Methodist Church.  Funds honoring Art at Suttle Lake Camp will help finish the conversion of the old shower house into a meeting space (a project Art was a great help with, including helping with early demo work). To give to camping, Click here to donate to the Suttle Lake Development Fund, and make sure to make the gift in honor of Art McEldowney.

Notes to the family may be sent to:

Jane McEldowney | 20506 KLAHANI DR | BEND, OR 97702

Blessings Report

  • SNOW at Sawtooth Camp!
  • Beautiful weather on the coast for Christ UMC, Salem UMC, Trinity UMC, and the University of Portland's Campus Ministries this past weekend!
  • The life and joy of Art McEldowney



Go Camping E-News is a publication of Camp and Retreat Ministries, a collaboration of the OR-ID Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon.

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Portland, OR 97201