by Robert Burtt III, chair of the Division of Outdoor Ministries
For some people the most wonderful time of the year might be Christmas, their birthday, or some other holiday. For some of us though the most wonderful time of the year is summer camp, but before you can roast the marshmallows and sing the songs there are some important things that must happen, and I am not talking about stopping at the gas station or packing your bags. Before any of that happens, you have to register and this year we have some exciting changes to the registration process, as well as some exciting new programs to add to the calendar.
The first great thing we have to celebrate is that as of January 28th registration on our new all-in-one online registration site began! Some cool things that you will notice is that you will be able to fill out all your forms and permissions for camp on the website, and update them at any given time before your camp starts.
Another great change is that we get to celebrate this year is that we are now moving to two, simple registration deadlines — March 31st and May 15th. This will give our directors, counselors and site staff more time to prepare and create the best programs for their participants. This will also allow us to make sure all of our counselors and directors are properly checked to ensure the safety and every camper who visits camp this season.
To support these changes and programs, the Ohio Conference Board also voted to increase the base price of a week of camp at Pilgrim Hills to $425 — the first increase in more than three years. Although we know this might be a burden on some of our families, our prices remain in line with similar camps and the increase will help us close the gap on the program deficit we have been running for many years. We will continue to offer camper scholarships to people of all ages. The scholarship application is even part of your regular online registration, making it even easier to apply! You should also check with your local church. Many of them offer financial assistance to campers. Your final camp payment will still be due two weeks before your camp begins.
Finally, and most exciting of all we have a few new programs to add to the list of seminal favorites, that I would like to share with you. First, we have Finding You U, hosted at Heidelberg University and planned by a group of incredibly inspired group of high school students. Finding You is all about finding yourself, and finding your higher purpose in life.
Next, we have Our Whole Lives secondary curriculum training, at Pilgrim Hills in August, a three-day intensive course putting sexuality and the UCC cores values all in line. Next, we will also be hosting Environmental Justice for All training at Pilgrim Hills in October, and in collaboration with our friends at the UCC National Justice and Witness Ministries. Participants will learn and engage with others who are interested in preserving the beautiful would God created for us. Finally, we have Jewels of the Bible, a weekend women’s retreat hosted at Higher Ground Conference and Retreat Center in Indiana. This will be an incredible opportunity for women of all ages to come together and share in faith, fellowship, worship and crafts.