Our Denominational Partners at Alton L. Collins Retreat Center:

Sharing Mission, Growing Together

Reflections on the Seven Foundations for Camp & Retreat Ministries

Foundation 6: Partner with Local churches and Church-Related Organizations

by Dan Benson, Director of Alton L. Collins Retreat Retreat Center

Of the Seven Foundations of United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries, partnering with United Methodist churches and agencies sounds both the most boring and obligatory.  I say this being fully committed to the work of The United Methodist Church and as an ordained Elder serving under appointment. But still, on the surface, this foundation might appear to be less engaging than all of the others.  

However, what I have experienced at our sites throughout the conference is that we facilitate some of the most dynamic opportunities for congregational visioning and deepening of relationships.  Believe it or not, partnering with United Methodist churches and agencies is some of the coolest work we do. Camp and Retreat Ministries also does very cool work officially partnering with Episcopal churches and agencies!

"I get to see the hand of God at work in each group's life together."

The most common and direct way that we support the work of United Methodist and Episcopal churches is through hosting church board and vestry meetings. When the leadership of a congregation steps outside of their busy lives and sets aside time for one another and their congregation, the results are dramatic. Often I see the participants come in to the center, looking weary and distracted, searching for the WiFi password in order to keep tabs on all of the projects left behind. In these moments, I understand that these are people who need time away to be open and listen for the voice of God prompting them to set forth on more grand adventures with God. Over the course of the day, weekend, or week, I see people look less anxious and more energized. I hear people talking excitedly about one idea or direction. I encounter laughter and smiles as new experiences are shared together. I get to see the hand of God at work in their life together.

While I had expected to encounter these church council, board, vestry, and committee meetings, I did not expect to see such a significant change in the lives of the participants in such a short time together.

The other thing that I did not expect to see is the number of ways that we support the work of the larger church.  We have worked with our conference to host numerous groups and agencies.  In my short time here I have worked to support:

  • United Methodist Women region-wide events
  • Certified Lay Minister training (this is a vital ministry for many of our smaller congregations to find ways to survive and even thrive amidst changing demographics)
  • A community of practice addressing new circuit rider and other models addressing the changing needs and compositions of our congregations
  • The Love Your Neighbor Coalition
  • United Methodist Volunteers in Mission
  • Jurisdictional meeting for the work of General Board of Global Ministries
  • A gathering of Episcopal female clergy focused on Women Embodying Executive Leadership
  • Time to Sow, a four day lectionary preaching planning session to map out and dream about how God is speaking to a congregation for the coming year.

The change and energy that each of these groups bring as they do their work here is intense and remarkable.  These and many other groups use the gift of our camp and retreat sites to foster the work of the local and global church.  It is a blessing and ministry to provide space and input into these processes through which our congregations, communities, denominations, and world are transformed to more readily reflect the likeness of God.

Is your congregation or organization feeling lost in the wilderness, looking for the spark of God to set you off on the next big adventure?  Or are you looking to fan the flames of the Spirit even higher in your work together?  Let us help you so that we can listen together and grow the love of God in our hearts and in our world.

Peace to you,

Dan Benson

Opportunities for Renewal & Growth @ Collins

2018 Great Hymns of the Faith 3

Site: Alton L. Collins Retreat Center

Dates: 10/25/2018 - 10/25/2018

Age Level: Adult

Cost: $18.50

Click here to register

Come to the Collins Retreat Center for a fun and fascinating morning of singing favorite hymns of the Christian faith--both old and new! You'll also hear stories and gain insights as you explore the music, poetry, and theology of our heritage of congregational song, mixed with a healthy dose of amusing anecdotes and historical trivia. It all takes place in the beautiful Collins Chapel setting, led by the Rev. Laura Jaquith Bartlett, the immediate past president of The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music & Worship Arts, and a self-professed hymn geek. The musical morning is followed by a delicious luncheon prepared from scratch, served overlooking the meadow and forest. The menu for Oct. 25 includes Classic Clam Chowder with Pancetta & Fresh Clams and Oyster Crackers; Golden Tarragon Waldorf Salad Over Mixed Greens; Seared Kielbasa Sausage & Onions; Fresh Baked Bread & Butter; and Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Cookies for dessert. Of course, coffee and tea are included, and we are proficient at caring for nearly any special dietary needs. After lunch, you're welcome to spend as long as you like exploring the grounds and facilities, shopping the Ten Thousand villages display, or relaxing in the Center's comfortable library.

Click here to download a flyer with more information.

Click here to view a video clip about the Great Hymns series.


Sustaining the Courage to Serve: A Courage & Renewal® Retreat Series 

Site: Alton L. Collins Retreat Center

Dates: 11/8/2018 - 7/13/2019

Age Level: Adult

Cost: $2,950 for four retreats (Early Bird discount of $50 if register by September 1st)

Click here to register


Click here for more information on Courage: Circle of Trust.

This retreat series is grounded in the Circles of Trust® approach as described in Parker Palmer’s book, A Hidden Wholeness. This series is intended for anyone who wants to live and work more wholeheartedly.

Since 1997 the Center for Courage & Renewal, through its international network of nearly 300 facilitators, has created a unique retreat-based approach to sustaining and renewing personal identity, professional integrity, and vocational vitality for people in all walks of life, particularly - but not limited to - those in the helping professions.

Teachers, principals and higher education professionals; clergy and lay leaders and others serving spiritual communities; members of the health and healing professions; on-profit and other community leaders, persons working in business and the arts and anyone who desires to sustain their “courage to serve.” This series of four retreats is designed for both experienced Circle of Trust® participants as well as those who may be attending for the first time.

This is a series of four weekend retreats, held at the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center, 32867 SE Highway 211, Eagle Creek, Oregon:

  • Fall retreat: Thursday at 5:00pm - Saturday at 1:00pm, November 8-10, 2018
  • Winter retreat: Thursday at 5:00pm - Saturday at 1:00pm, January 31 - February 2, 2019
  • Spring retreat: Thursday at 5:00pm - Saturday at 1:00pm, April 11-13, 2019
  • Summer retreat: Thursday at 5:00pm - Saturday at 1:00pm, July 11-13, 2019

Facilitators are Caryl and Jeff Creswell and Karen Noordhoff.

FEES: $2,950 for four retreats (payments may be made in four installments), $2,650 if paid in full by check, $2,750 if paid in full by credit. Single occupancy may be available for a surcharge of $75 per retreat.

Scholarship funds are available, please contact Caryl, Jeff or Karen here.

From Sawtooth Camp site team chair, Ann Hawkins, who is making an important announcement:

This is not the kind of news I like to share but I share it with compassion.  Robert Poe has submitted his resignation as Sawtooth Camp Director. I know this decision was not an easy decision for Robert and Juliana. We all know that it takes a great deal of effort and many skills to make Sawtooth Camp the special experience that it is for our campers. Robert, we appreciate your contribution this past camp season.

Please keep Robert, Sawtooth Camp, and everyone involved in the selection process in your prayers as we move forward with the process of selecting a camp director. As of today, Robert's last day in the role as site director has not been specified. Todd and Robert will be reviewing the remaining duties for closing out the camp year and choosing a final date. The final hiring decision for this position is the Executive Director Todd Bartlett's decision but the Sawtooth site team will work with Todd to fill the position.

Ann Hawkins, Sawtooth Camp Site Committee Chair

Note: A job posting for the position of Sawtooth Camp Director will be made public as soon as Todd Bartlett and the site committee refine the materials for the search.



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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