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Reflections with
Camp & Retreat Ministries


Christian Hospitality

Last week I shared with you about hospitality and what we are engaged in as staff to create a welcoming and hospitable environment at our sites. This week I would like to explore with you what it is that makes hospitality "Christian."

For me the distinction that I make between Christian hospitality and other kinds of hospitality has to do with the spirit with which we do our work, and the fact that we intentionally do the work as followers of Jesus. Engaging with this Spirit and in the name of Jesus often means that we are called to a life marked by change. If as United Methodists we are “going on to perfection,” we are claiming that there is work in our lives, and we understand that change is part of what it means to be United Methodist.

The author and theologian Henri Nouwen has significantly impacted me through what he has written. One phrase that I have used often is something he wrote about hospitality: “Hospitality is not to change people but to offer them a place where change can take place.” 

These words resonated with me when I first read them. Our work avoids demanding how others should change or even if they should change. Our work is to create the space where they can experience the change they seek and/or the change they accomplish in cooperation with the Spirit. We offer comfortable spaces, good food, opportunities to experience God through the outdoors and community, and in our programming; through it all we remind one another that we follow Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. 

I do believe that our hospitality requires us to remove barriers that impede the ability of others to learn and grow, and to set goals that challenge us to grow. In doing so, those who experience our Christian hospitality will have the space that they need to cooperate with the Spirit’s presence in their lives. Those who step into these spaces may be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or of no faith. They may be religious and participating in a non-religious event. Our goal, no matter who it is that we are serving with our Christian hospitality, is to allow them the grace to be who they are without an expectation that they become who we are. 

When have you felt the Spirit working on you to bring change to your life? When did the Christian hospitality of camp and retreat ministries help you cooperate with the Spirit to grow and change? I’d love to hear your story, so drop me a note

See you on the adventure ahead,

Rev. Todd Bartlett 
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries

*PHOTO: A large and diverse group of musicians comes to the Collins Retreat Center each summer for a week of playing chamber music together in different configurations. The Collins staff enjoys the free music, and the musicians enjoy the gracious hospitality. Here, a group of wind players takes over the lobby (Todd Bartlett).

More Camper Survey Results

During the summer of 2022 we partnered with Sacred Playgrounds and its Effective Camp Survey, along with United Methodist camps from across the country, to get an idea of how parents and campers view the impact of our ministry on campers’ lives. Campers aged 11-18 were asked to fill out a survey at the beginning of the week, at the end of the week, and three months after camp was over. Parents were asked to answer the questions on the survey about a month following their camper’s event. 

Sacred Playgrounds has developed its survey focused upon five elements that make up an effective camp experience: Faith-Centered, Safe Space, Relational, Unplugged from Home, and Participatory.  Oregon-Idaho campers responded to the three-month follow-up with these results: I plan to attend this camp in the future (96%), I had a lot of fun (96%), I tried something new at camp (96%), I made a new friend (92%), the camp experience had a significant impact on my life (83%), my questions concerning faith were taken seriously (83%), I learned more about God (70%), and I was strengthened in my faith (58%). 

Our program division will be meeting later this month and will review these survey results to determine what kinds of actions to take to continue to support campers so that they enjoy camp and grow in their faith.

Blessings Report

  • The national gathering of United Methodist camp leaders in Georgia
  • Colleagues across the country learning and growing
  • 15 camp leaders from OR-ID who are ready to share what they learned last week

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

Camp Makes a Difference
(and so do you)

Sometimes the concept of "camp" gets condensed into s'mores, hiking, and singing around a campfire. Those are all fun activities, but they don't actually express the essence of the camp and retreat experience. When 96% of our campers say they want to come back, they had a lot of fun, and they tried something new, it's a sign that something really formative is happening. On the adult level, we have guests from a variety of faith traditions (or no faith tradition) who return to our sites over and over because the Christian hospitality they encounter gives them the space to experience the change they are seeking. This is deep, transformative ministry that we're doing! And we can't do it without you. Please support this life-changing work with a donation to camp and retreat ministry--the green button below makes it quick and easy.

Please donate today! 

*PHOTO: Campers at Magruder (Todd Bartlett).


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