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Reflections with Camp & Retreat Ministries 

Uneven Ground

During my walks the past few days I have been thinking a lot about uneven ground. There is a stretch of my typical walking route that is uneven, and in our winter rainy weather this is clearly demonstrated by the water that is visible on the surface of the saturated ground. 

There are two reasons to be careful on the uneven ground right now: to avoid getting my feet wet, and to avoid the possibility of falling if I make a misstep. Now to be fair, there are level places that are also slippery and may cause a fall just as easily!

But as I have thought about the rough surfaces and the chance of falling, I’ve also been thinking about the benefit that the uneven surface provides. By walking on the uneven surface my body stays attuned to the possibility of falling and has the opportunity to work on balance. In the case of a fall, my body uses the event to remember how to fall safely.

Most of us have forgotten what it was like to learn to walk. When we were learning to walk, we fell, repeatedly, until our bodies adjusted to this new form of mobility. As we continued to slowly adapt, we also continued to fall as part of that learning process; for most of us, we managed to do that without being seriously injured. 

At the 2019 National Camp Leaders event, one of the keynote speakers shared a realization that most of the injuries that kids were experiencing at camp came in the first two or three days. The speaker attributed those injuries to the theory that kids do not remember how to fall because they have become so accustomed to sitting and being physically inactive in their regular lives.

I can think of times in my own life when I’ve experienced a metaphorical stumble, or even a fall. At the time I wasn’t too happy about finding myself suddenly "on the ground," but ultimately I was able to learn from that misstep, and the learning became valuable protection in the future. The object isn’t to smooth out the uneven ground, nor to always keep ourselves from falling. The object is to keep walking and adapt to the uneven terrain, thereby improving our balance. If we do fall again, we’ll know that we can get up and continue walking. 

I believe that this is part of what makes Camp and Retreat Ministries a powerful element of life. We invite campers to journey across uneven terrain, allowing them the opportunity to fall, to learn, and to grow in their stability and resilience. Maybe you have such a story that you would like to share; I would love to hear it.

See you on the adventure ahead,

Rev. Todd Bartlett 
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries

*PHOTO: Beauty seen across uneven ground in the Sawtooth National Forest, near the site of our Sawtooth camp (Todd Bartlett).

Fund-Raising Update

Last week I reported that the Camp and Retreat Ministries community joined together in 2020 to reach the audacious goal of raising $600,000. This goal seemed to me to be unattainable when we set it, at least if looked at from a strictly fundraising/donation perspective. And yet....the grand total of fund-raising for 2020 was $706,000! This was due mostly to donations from people like you, along with some grants ($120,000 approximately), all of which helped us achieve a total that was well beyond even our wildest dreams!

In addition to the total mentioned above, we also received a PPP loan ($210,600), as well as some significant earned income from the Collins Retreat Center, which was able to provide isolation shelter services in conjunction with Clackamas County ($172,000).

When I look at all of these numbers I am amazed at the total and in awe of the way that our team worked together to raise the money to meet the need. I am deeply grateful for all of you who heard the need and responded with passion and generosity. Thank you for your tremendous care and commitment to this life-changing ministry.  --Todd Bartlett

Blessings Report

  • Generous donors!!!!!
  • A new lumber storage shed at Wallowa Lake
  • Plans for anniversary celebrations in 2022 at Suttle Lake and Wallowa Lake

 Please send your blessings to share in future issues of the e-news. 

*PHOTO: Sunshine sparkles off snow and water on the Wallowa River in early January--another blessing! (Peggy Lovegren).

Keeping our balance--together

Any parent who has walked with a toddler knows that a steady hand makes a big difference to a little one who is trying to navigate uneven ground. Together, we humans keep each other upright--or help one another scramble to our feet after one of those inevitable tumbles. Throughout this pandemic, Camp & Retreat Ministries is traversing very uneven ground, but we know our community is right there with us to offer guidance and a hand up. Every piece of support--including each click on that green donation button--is appreciated as we make our way forward.

Please donate today! →

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

1505 SW 18th Ave
Portland, OR 97201