Reflections on the Seven Foundations for Camp & Retreat Ministries

Nurturing Christian Faith and Discipleship in our STAFF

Intro to Foundation 4: "Develop Principled Spiritual Leaders"

by Todd Bartlett, Executive Director for Camp and Retreat Ministries

A group from Madras at a Suttle Lake Institute in 1922

As United Methodists we have a long history of developing Christian spiritual leaders.

The early Methodist movement was engaged in bands, class meetings and societies, all of which fostered spiritual growth among the people called Methodists. Along with these, there were places that John Wesley and his preachers traveled to encounter people in the outdoors. This open-air preaching would lead to the development of revivals and tent meetings in the new nation called the United States of America. This method of developing spiritual leaders can be found in our own conference in the history of Falls City, OR. Note: There may be other sites as well, so if you know of them, please let me know so that we can include them in our history for our upcoming 100th anniversary of Camp and Retreat Ministries in 2022.
There were other ways in which the early Church’s growth and development styles gave birth to Camp and Retreat Ministries: the Chautauqua programs (check out Ashland’s history for this style) where one could consider the Collins Retreat Center as part of this lineage. Then along came the institutes or Epworth League models that founded places like Suttle Lake Camp, Camp Magruder, and Wallowa Lake. The fourth style was youth development, which were supported by our work at Camp Latgawa, Sawtooth Camp, Leewood, and Loon Lake.
Those in church leadership realized that places apart were effective in shaping spiritual leaders. In these places, there were opportunities to learn about the spiritual life and being open and present to the spirit through Creation. Living in intentional Christian community at these camp and retreat centers also means that one can experience being a leader of others simply by doing it. There are opportunities for everyone to lead through setting tables, washing dishes, going on a hike, doing a craft, caring for everyone in your group, praying, singing, and playing. There are so many ways that one can develop leadership skills while at camp.
I am proud that I am a part of a denomination whose forebears gave birth to these beautiful settings from the early days of the Methodist movement through to present day. Well over 200 people bore witness to this during the weekend of June 1-3 when we celebrated 70 years of ministry at Camp Sawtooth, 46 years of ministry leadership by Dave Hargreaves, and the dedication of the Sawtooth Welcome Center. While I know that I will not be around 70 years from now, like those who have gone before me I trust that we will continue to develop Christian spiritual leaders at all our sites well into the future.
See you around the campfire soon,


Conklin is moving on - but not far away!

It is with a mix of emotions that we announce that Eric Conklin, associate for donor relations and communications, will be leaving his post on June 30. Since January 2013 Eric has been working with Camp and Retreat Ministries, often splitting his time with other areas of ministry. Most recently he has also working for the annual conference on behalf of the Missional Wisdom Foundation. Beginning in July, his appointment will be shifting to work as a full time employee for Missional Wisdom, developing a network for and starting new intentional Christian communities, supporting existing starts in the area, and co-forming contextual theological education in the Portland area. His new primary work e-mail contact is

We are happy to announce that beginning in July, Holly Dolan, camp registrar, will be picking up the portion of the workload related to donor relations, increasing her presence in the Camp and Retreat Ministries office.

Camp Classifieds:

Communications assistant for Camp and Retreat Ministries (10 hours/ week)

The role of the communications assistant for Camp and Retreat Ministries is to provide communicate about our mission and ministry to the annual conference, our guests, and supporters through our weekly email newsletter, through a quarterly print publication with content for the website.  This staff person works closely with the Executive Director, registrar, camp accountant, site directors and the Council of Advocates.  Interested applicants may contact the Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries, the Rev. Todd Bartlett at

NEEDED: Motorized Wheel Chair Hauler to Suttle Lake Camp

We have need for a driver and truck and/or trailer (need either hydraulic lift or ramp for these extremely heavy wheelchairs) to haul up to two motorized wheel chairs to and from Suttle Lake Camp out of Portland for Strength for the Journey, an event for people who have HIV/AIDS.

Do you have the time and a large pickup or a trailer to make at least one leg of that trip? They will need to be picked up at Portland First United Methodist Church on August 23rd at 10AM and returned on August 26th.

Contact Todd Bartlett at 503-802-9211 or for more details about this opportunity to contribute!

Sawtooth 70th Celebration from the Air!



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.

1505 SW 18th Ave
Portland, OR 97201