The COGWA Youth Camps team is happy to announce that on March 1 the application system opened to begin taking 2017 applications. We will once again be using the COGWA Portal system, but we encourage everyone to start the process by reading the article on the main page of the camp website (http://camps.cogwa.org) titled “Camp Application System.” There are some specific points we would like you to be aware of before you begin your application.
We think you will find that applying via this new system is faster and simpler. As mentioned in the article, much of your information is retained for subsequent years’ applications and needs only to be reviewed (and edited if changes are needed).
For your convenience, here is a direct link to the article with further explanation and additional information: “Camp Application System.”
We hope to see you at camp this year!
CYC Overall Coordinator
From Ken Treybig, CYC Overall Coordinator: With the ending of Winter Camp, our CYC program has finished another very successful camp year. The total number of attendees (campers and staff) at our preteen and teen camps in 2016 topped the 1,200 mark for the first time. Attendance has shown an increase each year since our beginning in 2011. Comparing the 2016 attendance to our first year shows an increase of 275, a 30 percent increase in attendance. We are very thankful for that and deeply appreciate your prayers and support for the program.
We have been busy planning for this year’s camps and have posted the camps and their dates on our camp website, http://camps.cogwa.org. All our preteen camps will be in the same locations as last year, as will all but one of our teen camps. Due to continuing price increases, we had to leave Camp Strong Rock. After a year and a half of searching and visiting camps in the general area, we have secured the use of Camp Fort Bluff as a replacement. It is located outside Dayton, Tennessee, which is about 45 miles northeast of Chattanooga.
The theme for 2017 will be “Vision: Seeing Clearly in a Clouded World.” We are currently updating all the individual camp pages, working on articles and new photos for the website and expect to have it ready to go around the first of February. Our goal is to have the application system updated and ready to go for the first of March. Watch for further announcements.
Here is a report from Winter Camp Director Gary Black.
Hello from Winter Camp in Montello, Wisconsin!
It’s a sunny 33 degrees as I write, and camp is off to a good start. We have 74 campers and 44 staff. This is the largest number of campers we’ve had since 2009, and we are above our 22-year historical average.
Between Sunday and Monday the temperature rose to 42 degrees, and we had almost a half-inch of rain. The snow had been quite deep, with two good snowfalls before camp, but we lost some due to the rain. We still have several inches, which we’re happy about.
The field where we play broomball is frozen, and we have enough snow and ice for tubing as well. But the ice on the pond is not yet thick enough for ice skating. Perhaps it will be soon.
We have a new human foosball court, and another new activity called “9 Square in the Air.” We also added “You Be the Judge,” where campers are presented with several scenarios and are charged with judging them based on God’s statutes and judgments.
There are only a few with colds, so it’s a fairly healthy camp so far. There have been a couple of falls due to very slippery conditions in places (caused by the rain). Both individuals were checked at the local clinic and are fine.
After today the temperatures should remain below freezing. Quinzhees are now being built for winter camping tonight and tomorrow night.
Thank you for your prayers for the safety and success of the camp. I’m including a couple of pictures below so you can see our snow!
Hope you’re staying warm,
In order to serve you better, we have created our own system for camp applications and registrations, and it is now open for applications. Please note there are two main steps to applying for camp with the new system.
Create a household account on the COGWA portal and add your spouse, if applicable, and any members of your household who wish to apply for camp.
When you log into your account, COGWA Youth Camps 2016 will show in the Upcoming Events section with a link to begin the application process.
Since the system is new, we have created a tutorial on how to use it, and we strongly encourage you to read it before you start your application. It is the “Applying for Camp—Start Here” article on the home page of the camp website, camps.cogwa.org. You can also find it by clicking on the Apply button on the navigation bar then clicking the link in the second sentence to read the article/tutorial. You can then go back to the Apply page to start the process.
We are pleased to announce that the 2016 dates for our preteen and teen camps are posted on the camp website. We have one change of location for a preteen camp and a few camps have had to change from the dates they originally were planning to use this year.
Thank you for your patience over the past years as we worked with a somewhat awkward application system. Now that a system is being developed internally for all our needs (Feast, Young Adult Leadership Weekend, Winter Family Weekend, etc.), we are working to include our camps in that system.
Our goal is to provide you with a much-easier-to-use application system for camps, including an integrated photo upload system. However, this will be the biggest and in many ways the most complicated part of the new system, so we wanted to give you advance notice that the start of registration might be delayed a little this year—depending on what complications might be encountered. While that might be a slight inconvenience, we believe you’ll agree that it will be worth it!
Overall Camp Coordinator
A “miracle snow” preceded Winter Camp, and the 68 campers thoroughly enjoyed it. In addition to friendly snowball fights, campers enjoyed a mix of indoor and outdoor activities. This year we introduced “Human Foosball,” which turned out to be a favorite. What is that? Imagine a giant snowy foosball table (the field), with campers along the rods trying to kick balls through the goals.
Three snow quinzhees were piled up and hollowed out for staff and campers to camp outside in the winter cold. Twenty-two campers and staff were accepted to participate in winter camping. The low temperature was pretty warm this year, around 20 degrees.
We thank God for another wonderful year!
We completed four very successful days of our fifth preteen camp at Woodlake Bible Camp from Aug. 9-12. For all four days, the campers and staff enjoyed nearly perfect Wisconsin summer weather—approximately 80 degrees, sunny and fairly dry. Though smaller this year, with just under 20 campers and 25 staff, the result was a very close family environment and the best camp here to date.
The highlights started with the kick-off to the activities on Sunday, Aug. 9, and a “minute to win it” game night for the whole camp Sunday evening. This was the first time this was done, and the campers absolutely loved it. Monday through Wednesday were filled with a full array of activities, including team challenge/climbing wall, field games, fishing, arts and crafts, nature and exploring, and our newest activity—golf. There were also many lakefront water activities, including swimming, canoeing, pontoon rides and the super-popular blob. Monday ended with the ever-popular novelty Olympics, and Tuesday ended with our annual treasure hunt.
The camp kept the theme of the Christian Living sessions very in line with the theme of camp, “The Pearl of Great Price: Find It and Keep It!” On the second day, the campers shared figurative pearls of great price that they had received from both staff and counselors related to their calling and experience in the Church. The spirit, attitude and mood of the camp were extremely high and positive, thanks to God’s tremendous blessings on the staff and campers!
Cory Erickson, director
The 20th year for Church of God regional youth camps at the Heritage Reservation is history! Thirty-four campers and 30 staff enjoyed a fine week Aug. 9-16 at this veteran location for COGWA youth camps.
This was one of the best years ever at Heritage in many ways. After two years of cool and rainy weather, the weather this year was sensational. We had a few pop-up storms Tuesday, but every other day was rain-free and mostly sunny with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s. Overnight lows in the 60s made for pleasant sleeping conditions.
Monday’s activities introduced the week’s routine and included high ropes for the Challenge-level campers (aged 15-18). Other scheduled venues included softball, riflery, archery, volleyball, basketball, soccer, kayaking and swimming.
Wednesday the annual whitewater rafting trip down the Youghiogheny River saw 26 participants (17 campers and nine staff members) challenge 7.5 miles of class III and class IV rapids. Thursday all campers enjoyed “tubing” behind the Scouts’ powerful ski boat. The campers won the traditional Thursday night camper/staff softball game 15-10, their third victory in 19 games (the game was canceled one year due to wet and unplayable grounds).
Daily Christian Living classes amplified the theme of “The Pearl of Great Price: Find It and Keep It.” A special life skills class was presented Wednesday evening by camp director Doug Johnson and his wife, Janel. After the life skills class, 12 campers and two staff members headed out for overnight tent camping, while the rest of the camp enjoyed a rousing game of bunco.
Friday night saw various Bible games as campers and staff welcomed the Sabbath. The Sabbath had the usual brunch, hymn sing, opening of Sabbath notes, and services. The last scheduled activity was the Saturday night dance, with deejay Allen Holl keeping the camp hopping. A beautiful slide show of the highlights of Heritage 2015 was presented during the evening dance by camp videographer and photographer Kait Black.
The year 2015 was the 11th and last year for the Johnsons to serve as Camp Heritage director and wife. Scott Lord and his wife, Monica, will begin serving in that capacity in 2016. The Lords organized a beautiful slide show of the first 20 years for Camp Heritage and a presentation of tokens of appreciation to the Johnsons Friday evening. The thoughtful gifts included a lovely matted and custom-framed photograph (the original photo was taken by Mrs. Johnson!) of sunset over Lake Courage, a well-known and much-beloved spot for all who’ve attended Camp Heritage over the last 20 summers.
A Day in the Life at Camp Arrowhead 2015
By Rachelle Metzger
“Rise and shine, campers!”
It is 7 a.m. and time to begin our day at Camp Arrowhead! Counselors—loving substitutes for moms and dads—rouse sleepy-headed campers and march us all, or send us by twos, to the bathhouse to dress and get ready for an activity-packed day.
The fresh, cool air of the northeast Ohio farmland helps us wake up, and dew makes the grassy fields of the 40-acre camp sparkle in the morning sunlight. We gather in front of the dining hall porch by 8 a.m., and our camp director, Mr. Dave Myers, does a quick roll call:
“Where are the girls of G1?” (G1 screams and cheers.)
“Do we have the girls of G2?” (G2 screams and cheers.)
“Where are the girls of G3?” (G3 screams and cheers.)
“Where is B1?” (B1 screams and cheers.)
“Do we have the boys of B2?” (B2 screams and cheers.)
“Where are the MEN of B3?” (B3 hoots and yells as deep as 10- to 12-year-old boys can muster.)
Sixty-two campers and 46 staff members can make a lot of noise! After a few announcements and reminders, and a blessing asked on our meal, we’re treated to a delicious breakfast of eggs, turkey sausage, yogurt, granola, fruit and oatmeal. We’re energized and ready to start our day!
First things first: Each brother and sister dorm goes to one of three thoughtfully and carefully prepared Christian Living classes. We learn what the pearl of great price is, where to find it, how to keep it, that we ought to share it, and why it is so important as our own personal treasure. We also learn the importance of being humble, and all the positive attributes a humble person has. Each camper is given a pearl pouch and a pearl to keep as a reminder of these lessons.
Now that our minds are in the right place, we are off to enjoy what we preteens love best: running, playing, and—what our counselors love—burning energy! The soccer staff teaches us some fundamental skills, which we practice in a few drills. Then we are let loose in a scrimmage—boys versus girls!
Next we play gaga ball—a camp favorite—which is similar to dodgeball, but played in a specially-designed arena! We practice agility and good aim (knees and below!), as well as good sportsmanship.
Each of these activities lasts an hour, and now we’re hungry again. We march back to the dining hall by noon. Again we must do roll call to make sure all the dorms are here and excited for lunch! We ask a blessing, and then devour another tasty meal, everyone’s favorite: taco bar, with churros for dessert!
We then have 30 minutes of free time to get some rest, play a little luz ball (known to others as “carpet pool”) or practice our dorm’s skit, which will be performed at the farewell presentation for all the other campers, staff and parents.
By 1:30 we’re back in action. Bright sunshine all day has heated it up to a pleasant temperature in the low 80s, so we are ready for swimming. We play a couple of games such as sharks and minnows, bravely jump off the four-foot diving board and are given free time to play and go down the 18-foot waterslide!
Once we’ve cooled off in the pool, we are ready to run in the sun, playing field games like flag football and water balloon toss. We put all our effort and heart into each game.
By now we are ready for a snack. Orange slices and animal crackers give us a quick boost, and off we go again! Our counselors remind us to drink plenty of water.
After instruction in safety and basic skills, we take aim at the pearl (a.k.a. the bull’s-eye) in archery, and write our name on the archery poster if we succeed! The poster will be displayed in the dining hall for all to see.
Now we slow things down a bit, and we express our creativity in arts and crafts. We decorate a frame for our dorm photo, and we get to tie-dye our own white T-shirt—it will be so exciting to see how they all turn out!
Is it time for dinner already? At 6 p.m. we gather again in front of the dining hall porch for our third roll call of the day, and through our hoots and cheers, demonstrate just as much enthusiasm as ever. This time a camper has requested to ask the blessing on the meal, and another gets to ring the dinner bell. It seems like we eat all the time, yet we still scarf down our yummy dinner of beef tips, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, salad, and chocolate cake!
Just in case we are not tired yet, we have another opportunity to run, this time in novelty Olympics! Our team tries our best to carry cotton balls with drinking straws, pass a water balloon over our heads or under our legs to the next in line, carry popcorn in cups attached to our feet, and other silly games. At the final tally, G3 wins!
Immediately afterward, the G3 and B3 dorms rush to the woods where we are equipped with a harness and helmet so we can safely ride the zip line. We gaze up at the three-story wooden tower, which seems to get taller by the minute as our turn to climb it gets closer. Finally we scale up the ladders to the top, and now it seems so tall—well, we don’t look down. With the cheers of fellow campers and staff, we work up all our courage. We hear, “Zip line clear!” and we’re given the nod by staff, and, if necessary, some encouragement. Then we leap into the air and zip 500 feet through a clearing in the woods, and it is such a thrill that we can’t wait until it’s our turn again!
We also try our skill at traversing around a bouldering wall. After zip-lining, nothing scares us.
Finally, it is time for a shower, dorm meeting, another snack, and then lights out at 10 p.m. It’s been a terrific day, and there are more activities tomorrow that we didn’t get to yet: dodgeball; Bible games, which are new this year, customized for each dorm, and will be found on our new parent resource website; and cooking class. The rumor is we are making monkey toes and caterpillars—what could those be? After dinner tomorrow we will have our sing-along in the tabernacle. We’ll sing our favorite goofy songs, make it rain, and do the hamster dance! It’s going to be … zzzzzzzzz.
We are pleased to report another successful season at Strong Rock Camp!
On Aug. 2, 2015, 80 campers and 53 staff opened our session with excitement and enthusiasm! Campers from 14 states and three from the United Kingdom were presented with an activity schedule consisting of new unique challenges and old favorites.
By way of introduction, a camp mixer was held Sunday night to allow the campers to get acquainted with one another through a variety of fun and instructional activities. When asked what their favorite book of the Bible was, each camper shouted aloud the name of the book and went in search of other campers and staff who also favored the same book! Once you found a like-minded friend, you linked arms and continued your search for others. The mixer provided a wonderful opportunity to interact and meet new potential friends.
Each morning began with a Christian Living class that focused on our theme, “The Pearl of Great Price: Find It and Keep It!” Our ministers presented a wide variety of messages focusing upon the importance of not just obtaining the pearl but also protecting it and refraining from tarnishing this valuable treasure.
In the afternoon, the campers had a 15-minute Compass Check to help them refocus on the value of camp and the part they can play in creating an environment where all have opportunity for physical and spiritual growth.
To drive this point home, pearls were given to those campers who went beyond what was simply expected of them. Each day before meals, the camp met outside the dining hall for announcements, which included the handing out of pearls to those campers who excelled in an area or overcame a challenge. One camper received a pearl for overcoming her fear of the blob from a year ago. Having refused to leap onto the blob a year earlier, the camper, with encouragement from her peers, finally overcame her fears and leaped onto the blob surrounded by cheers and celebration from both campers and counselors!
The highly addictive game of gaga ball was officially introduced as an activity this year at Strong Rock, and the pit was rarely vacant. Even during fellowship time, the gaga ball was in motion with campers of all ages participating. Even the ministry got involved, and our very own Jim Haeffele, managed to defeat the campers in an exciting game!
Campers also enjoyed rock climbing, archery, flag football, volleyball, swimming and other exciting activities.
The weather this year was a little on the warm side, with temps getting into the mid-90s on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hydration was the word as our campers consumed water and Gatorade in order to keep themselves “liquidated” so they could participate in our outdoor activities.
We had our share of sprained ankles and sore muscles, but our campers kept moving forward. We only had one afternoon with rain, so we halted outdoor activities for two hours and went inside and played Bible trivia and “Name that Tune.” When the sun returned, we cranked up several of the outdoor activities again.
On Friday evening we welcomed the Sabbath with a group Bible study. Each dorm was given a Bible question to research and then assumed the role of writer for our Personal Correspondence Department and wrote a reply answering the question.
Like all weeks at camp, the time simply flew! Before we knew it, we were at the final dance Saturday night saying our goodbyes and asking people what Feast site they would be attending! In addition, the phrases Let’s do it again next year and I’ll be back were being echoed by campers and staff.
We asked our campers to be like the merchant of Matthew 13 and seek the ultimate pearl. While they searched for the pearl of great price, God also provided them with other pearls in the form of new friends who have the same goal in mind.
With tearful good-byes and hopes to return next year, we rejoice over a successful year at Strong Rock.
Todd Carey, director
Fifty-nine campers and 47 staff came together in the beauty of the North Georgia mountains for the fifth year of Camp Chattahoochee!
Besides our regular activities—such as arts and crafts, swimming in an Olympic-size pool, canoeing in a beautiful stream-fed lake, and “slip-and-sliding” away on a brand-new and longer version of the slip and slide—the campers enjoyed three new activities this year: gaga ball, riflery and team building.
While slip and slide is a regular activity, Camp Chattahoochee has now incorporated a “slip-and-slide-off” competition, where the best of each dorm competes in front of the entire camp after lunch on the final day. This year’s winners were Sara DeGagne from the girls’ dorms, Aaron LaMagna from the boys’ dorms, and Billy Hicks from the staff. Each winner received a special trophy made from the dishwashing soap bottles used to “slip” the slide, which were attached to a tree limb base.
In previous years, gaga ball was more of a special one-time activity. But its popularity increased to the point where it made sense to incorporate this extremely fun game into the regular schedule. One of our Church members in Jefferson, Georgia, was able to build the arena at a relatively low cost; and as expected, it was one of the highlights of camp.
Riflery was introduced, not only to provide the opportunity for some fun target practice, but with the intention of teaching gun safety and respect. The campers were thoroughly educated by one of our staff members with over 20 years of teaching and certification in this field.
Team building brought a new aspect to our campers this year—that of working together to solve clues and ultimately find the special treasure, The Pearl of Great Price (which ended up being taped under the chair of the camp director)!
For the first time, Camp Chattahoochee had the oversight of the entire kitchen, led by Chef Lewis Bryant and his wife, Annette, of the Nashville, Tennessee, congregation. It was a nice change to be able to plan our own menus and purchase our own food. And the food was delicious. Certainly no one left the dining hall hungry!
The Christian Living classes were led by ministers Dave Evans (the “other Mr. Evans”), Ron Kelley and camp director Eric Evans. It was truly a delight to have the opportunity to teach such a young group of children about something so precious. To remind them of this year’s theme, the children and staff were all given a special gift of a single pearl in a zippered pouch with the CYC emblem and the words “The Pearl of Great Price … Find It and Keep It!”
There were a few afternoon thunderstorms (normal for the area), but only one of the activities was cancelled in the three-day schedule—a true blessing! God provided His safety and protection to all of our campers and staff, something that we never want to take for granted.
An evening presentation for the parents concluded the camp program, with most of the dorms contributing songs, skits and dance presentations. The staff gave the final presentation with a short version of “Happy Trails,” as we wished these wonderful campers God’s blessings throughout the coming year ’til we meet again!
Eric Evans, director
Thirty-four campers and 30 staff enjoyed a wonderful camp at the southern end of the Sequoia National Forest from July 19 to 26.
Saturday night and Sunday during staff training we endured thunderstorms and rain, which is very unusual for California. But when the campers arrived on Sunday, the rain subsided and we had beautiful temperatures throughout the remainder of camp. God’s Spirit was an obvious part of the camp and in the attitudes of all those who attended. It was an uplifting week, and some campers even claimed it was their best yet.
Several new additions were added to camp including “clincher ball,” which is similar to softball but has a larger ball and no gloves are used. It is still a popular sport in the U.S. and was a hit at camp. We also had a new slip and slide that was longer and faster than before and turned out to be a great addition.
Team building this year was survival skills. The first class was shelter, and the second class was fire building. Campers had to build a shelter for their entire dorm using only a wire saw and two emergency blankets. Dorms worked together and used the elements around them and then the dorm was photographed in their shelter. Each individual had to build a fire using a fire rod and were also able to use dryer lint, steel wool, and other methods, including the hand-drill method.
The theme of “The Pearl of Great Price: Find It and Keep It” was used in decor, Compass Checks and Christian Living, as well as in the dorms by counselors. It was truly a great theme to focus on, and the campers gained a great deal from this parable.
After the regular camp session, six campers and three staff headed off to Extended Session. This year was a four-day excursion on Catalina Island. It began with a boat shuttle to the island and included hiking some of the unseen parts of Catalina.
The first day the group hiked from Avalon to Black Jack Campground, which was 15 miles. Day two was around a 10-mile hike from Black Jack to Little Harbor, where we enjoyed the beautiful surf and sand, and then on to Two Harbors, where we settled in for the night, camping right on the coastline. We saw bison, eagles, fox and deer, and enjoyed fresh-cooked fish from the ocean. Day three was in Two Harbors, fishing, swimming and sea kayaking.
Each night staff gave a brief recap of the day and spiritual principles relating to the theme of camp. The group returned on Thursday tired and suntanned, but with memories of an experience they will not soon forget.
We are already looking forward to next year!
Paul Carter, director
One hundred campers from all over the U.S. (three from Canada) and 45 staff gathered at YMCA Camp Carter July 5-12. I thought it was one of our best years yet. We enjoyed a great group of campers and staff. It’s always heartening to witness the positive example of God’s young people as they engage fully in camp for a week. It speaks to the dedication of the parents of our teens in the Church. It’s difficult to explain what it’s like to be in such an uplifting environment for a week without experiencing it. It’s a week of nonstop activity, fun and fellowship.
The weather turned out to be a bit cooler than expected; and we received rain Tuesday morning, which kept the dust down the rest of the week. By that afternoon, we were able to get back to our activity schedule. The lake conditions that day ended up being perfect for tubing, skiing and wakeboarding for our four speedboats as they ripped around Lake Worth.
This year we introduced an orienteering/survival skills class, where campers worked in teams to build fires without matches, build shelters and use compasses for navigation. Dance class was reinstated; and a cookie decorating class was offered, where the decorators were permitted to devour their creations.
Of course, we continued to offer our activity classes: archery, basketball, volleyball, gaga ball, speedaway, disc golf, and strength/fitness/agility training. This year one of our campers set a new Camp Carter record for pull-ups (military-style and in perfect form): 31—quite a feat! One camper from Colorado set a new climbing tower record by scaling it in a time of 3:01.
The staff and campers mixed in various activities throughout the week in the evenings, as they played against one another and mixed in together at times in basketball, speedaway, capture the flag, kickball, gaga ball, dance and volleyball.
The staff enjoyed their get-togethers as well at nights from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m., as we hung out, ate popcorn and snacks, laughed, talked and played various speed card games, such as spoons and peanuts/nertz.
Compass Checks and Christian Living classes centered on aspects of the pearl of great price our young people have been given. Britton Taylor, COGWA treasurer, gave the sermon Sabbath.
Consider joining us at Camp Carter next year on staff or as a camper. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll establish some lifelong friendships in the process!
Andy Burnett, director
Camp Sequoia (preteen) completed its fifth year at the current location in the southern end of the Sequoia National Forest. We had 31 campers and 30 staff members come together for a wonderful and inspiring camp this year. Fifteen of our staff members were teens aged 13-17. That is half of our staff, and it was encouraging to see these teens serving and giving back to the next generation of campers—especially since we have seen many of these volunteers come through the preteen program over the last eight years. We see a generation of leaders emerging as we look to years ahead in the camp program.
There were many first-time campers attending this year, and all of the dorms came together and worked in very positive way to create a camp environment that was rewarding and fun! One dorm was so inspired to achieve their goals in archery that they ALL worked together to encourage and inspire one another. They even came to archery at 6 a.m. the last day of classes to help a camper reach his goal. Every camper in that dorm hit an apple at 20 yards! Quite an achievement for preteen camp!
This year the slip and slide was greatly improved and looked much like a waterpark slide. The camp manager stated that it was the best addition to the camp that he had seen since he had been there.
The weather was hot before camp, but temperatures dropped a few degrees and provided a wonderful camp environment, even getting down to 60 degrees at night. Leaving camp and heading back into the valley, the temperatures rose to a HOT 104 degrees.
Overall, Camp Sequoia (preteen) was a GREAT success!
Paul Carter, director
We returned Thursday evening from Camp Bob White in central Missouri. Camp is always busy, but even more so this year, since we had about 30 percent more campers and staff than we’ve ever had before! The 133 campers and staff came from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota (I don’t think I left anyone out …). It is very encouraging to me to see the level of interest and enthusiasm these campers and staff have for our COGWA Youth Camps program!
Mary and I have been pretty heavily involved in the camp program for 20 years—since 1995. We continue to do so because of the powerful impact we’ve seen these camps have on the children and teens who attend. Once again this year, we had campers who are the children of campers we had just a few years back. In fact, this was the second or perhaps third year that we’ve had staff members who are the children of campers we have served at one of our camps! Perhaps it is, as one man said, a fact that shows our age—but far more importantly, it is a wonderful legacy that is being built year by year, and camper by camper! Our camp program provides something these campers can’t find anyplace else!
We ask for and rely on God’s involvement and blessing on the camp, and His blessings were certainly evident again this year. Upon arrival at the camp, I have to do a check-in walk-through with the state park manager. This year, because the local gas company had to put in a new gas line parallel to the highway and right through the camp, we were the first group to use the camp since last October. They had heavy equipment parked in the Bob White group campgrounds; and they had quite a bit torn up, including a large ditch right across the access road to the camp. The manager told me they had to cancel reservations for six groups who were to meet before we did. And Bob White was only opened up on the Friday before we arrived!
Because the buildings had all been shut up tight and likely because of all the rain the area has received, on our walk-through we were shocked to discover black mold in two of the cabins. There was no way we could use these cabins for our campers or staff! After just a minute or two inside, my nose and throat were burning, and I realized this could be a real problem! Each cabin sleeps 24, and we were at the point of needing almost every bed.
The park has another group camp called Shawnee. It is on the other side of the highway, perhaps a mile or so away from Bob White. There was a group in there last week, but no one was scheduled to use it while we were there, so the park manager offered to allow us to use some of those cabins. They aren’t as nice and are much older and more “rustic” (read that as old and somewhat dilapidated), but it was our only viable option. So we shuffled campers around in the remaining Bob White cabins and had most of our staff bunk away in the other group camp.
It was inconvenient, and we had to arrange shuttles back and forth for everyone every day, but our staff proved flexible. Had there been another group on the Shawnee campground, I don’t have any idea what we could have done. But God opened a door and provided a way for us to continue with the camp, and our dedicated staff made it work!
Another way we saw the blessing of God’s hand is with the weather. It was forecast to be pretty hot (low 90s) with very high humidity all of camp. There was also a strong chance of rain on Sunday afternoon—just at the time we’d be arriving, unloading everything and getting settled in. And as we were driving up, getting closer to camp, the sky to the north and west was very black and threatening. One staff member called to let me know she was going to be a little late because of the heavy storms she was going through not very far from camp!
Mary and I were a good half-hour late arriving, because, unknown to us, our planned route was blocked by a bridge that was out. So we had to backtrack and then detour around to find our way out and back on our route. So, by the time we arrived, quite a few staff members were already there. Everyone jumped in immediately and began unloading the trailer and truck to beat the rain, but it never rained on camp. Somehow it all stayed just north of us, so we had no problems with rain. We were also able to have staff orientation, counselor meetings and later the camper orientation outside under the trees, which was much more comfortable than inside the dining hall.
On Monday (our first full day of activities) the weather remained overcast the entire day with a pretty good breeze. It was still fairly warm, but the clouds and the breeze made it so much more comfortable than it could have been!
Then Monday night another strong storm moved in, heading right toward us. When it began thundering and lightning, we pulled everyone out of the water activities and brought them up to the dining hall. One staff member pulled up the weather radar, and it showed something very curious: As the greens, yellows and reds of the storm headed toward us, a clear line emerged along the southern edge of the storm. It came down to a point a short distance north of us and then slid along that line until it was past us. We had a few individual drops, but nothing more. The biggest impact of the storm for us was the nice drop in temperatures. It was only 68 degrees when we got up Tuesday morning, and it remained cooler throughout the day!
Wednesday was the last activity day, and it was pretty warm. But it is a summer camp, and we expect some of that! Overall, God’s blessing was evident.
The theme for this year is “Pearl of Great Price: Find It and Keep It.” With children this age, something physical helps cement a concept in their minds. So we handed out little zippered pouches to each camper, with one plastic pearl in it. We told them that pearl represented God’s calling, and they needed to work hard to keep it safe, as something very valuable.
We also explained there were ways they could earn other pearls, such as naming all of the 10 Commandments, saying all of the holy days in order, listing all of the fruit of the Spirit, all the books of the Old Testament and all the books of the New Testament. According to the list I kept (and I may have missed a few), the 66 campers combined earned an additional 105 pearls for completing one or more of those tasks—adding other valuable pearls of knowledge and understanding!
It was impressive to see even some of the smallest and youngest campers rattling off what we had asked of them, including all 39 books of the Old Testament and then the 27 books of the New Testament! It makes me wonder how many of us can recall from memory what these small children were able to do. And it certainly shows how much their parents have worked with them to know and understand some of these most basic and fundamental elements of the Bible and faith.
By noon on Thursday, the campers and staff, tired but with smiles, loaded into cars and headed back out toward wherever home is for each. I’m sure all were exhausted, but we left knowing we had tried to do our very best, and we each took home some powerful lessons, good friends and very fond memories.
Tom Clark, director
Camp Lone Star is over [ended June 17], and I wanted to let all of you know that we had a great time at a very successful camp down here in soggy south Texas this year. A very enthusiastic staff of 74 guided the 93 campers that had very high levels of energy each and every day.
The rain couldn’t dampen our spirits as we worked around Tropical Storm Bill on several occasions. And when it did rain, we just moved inside for a while. The radar would show heavy bands of rain, and although we did get rain, it was never that bad. One major band on the radar showed the storm spitting in half and going around our camp, sparing us the heavy downpour going on all around us.
It seems as if camp was focused around water, as we kept the lake in use almost constantly with fishing, canoeing, zip line and swimming. Canoeing was split from fishing this year, and the campers loved more time in the boats. I also heard very good things about the water safety class that the older dorms participated in. It was taught by one of our camp nurses, Bonnie Turner, as well as our own overall camp coordinator, Ken Treybig. I think one of the canoe classes enjoyed giving Mr. Treybig some stress by trying to sink a canoe! (They came pretty close!)
Archery was interrupted by rain on a few occasions as we didn’t want to get the equipment wet. But for riflery, the crew put EZ-UPs over everything and tried to keep the interruptions from the weather to a minimum.
The camp theme was a great hit with campers and staff alike, as there were so many ways to use it throughout camp. We started each day off with great Compass Checks given by some of the younger men in the Church, and everyone felt they were written just for them!
One way we used the camp theme this year was on the first evening of camp. While all of the dorms were settling in for their first night, our teen activity staff got together for a quick Bible study. It was really a panel discussion with several of the adult activity staff members discussing when the “pearl” became their own. Then we opened the discussion up for questions. We do this every year, but this was the first time it was in the format of a panel discussion.
With 10 dorms this year, up from eight in all the years past, our schedule was very busy. Each dorm participated in 22 classes or activities over a 3½-day time frame. These were not 22 different activities, as each dorm went twice to each activity. But we were very busy! Thankfully, we had minimal trips to the nurse’s office, which is always great!
One thing we do each year is have teen night at camp one evening where all of the teen staff gets time together at the end of the day to just hang, be with each other and have snacks. For the teens, this is a highlight of camp. We also do the same for the adults, as they all get off for a few hours one evening (after campers have gone to bed). We’re all together getting to know each other and spend a few hours together while the teens are keeping an eye on the dorms. It runs very smoothly and this year we were spoiled by a very elegant spread of treats that a few of our ladies on staff put on for us. We had a very elegant evening with champagne glasses filled with sparkling grape juice, a s’more station complete with chocolate fountain, printed napkins with the camp theme on them and so much more. It was a very special treat for a wonderful staff that everyone thoroughly enjoyed!
Elisa Hees, Director
As we move through the month of May, we want to remind everyone that each teen and preteen camp has set their own deadline for receiving online applications. Several of them have passed and others are coming up soon. The deadline for Camp Strong Rock has just been extended a couple of weeks to allow more time for applications. If you’d like to attend camp this summer—as a camper or as a staff member—please visit the Camp website (http://camps.cogwa.org/) and register soon. The application deadline for each camp can be found by clicking on the camp of interest and looking at the details on the right sidebar. We hope to see many of you at camp!
Overall Camp Coordinator
We are happy to say that the online application system is now active for all COGWA Youth Camps, and the website has been updated to reflect this year’s camp season. We made some more changes that we hope will be helpful to everyone. Just to name a few: We’ve added short introductory videos (narrated by the directors) about each camp location. We’ve modified the online questions asked and added an online digital photo upload system. And our CYC Honor Code, along with the Mission Statement, is now available on the bottom of the main page.
This year’s theme, “The Pearl of Great Price: Find It and Keep It,” should be a valuable one to help fulfill our mission of helping youth recognize and reach their God-given potential by living God’s way of life. Apply now at camps.cogwa.org!
It is usually around this time of year that the camp website is updated and we announce the online application process opening. We are making some updates and adding some more enhancements to the site this year. Watch for an announcement soon about it being ready for this year’s camp season!
The dates are set for COGWA Youth Camps in 2015. We will post the dates here in the news feed and begin working on revising the camp website over the next month to get all the camp descriptions and the online registration system updated. Our goal is to have the site ready for registrations by mid- to late February.
However, we are adding some enhancements this year. For instance, we hope to have a digital photo upload system for campers and staff members, and we are working with our online payment vendor to see if it would be viable for us to begin offering an online payment system for camp. Therefore, we might need a little extra time to finish all the enhancements and appreciate your patience.
Meanwhile, here are the 2015 camp dates. Keep in mind that these are the dates for campers. Staff members are often asked to arrive a day or two ahead of campers.
Camp Carter – July 5-12
Camp Sequoia – July 19-26
Camp Strong Rock – Aug. 2-9
Camp Heritage – Aug. 9-16
|Winter Camp – Dec. 28, 2015 – Jan. 3, 2016
Camp Lone Star – June 14-17
Camp Bob White – June 21-25
Camp Sequoia – June 22-25
Camp Chattahoochee – July 26-29
Camp Arrowhead – Aug. 2-5
Camp Wood Lake – Aug. 9-12
Total attendance at all camps for 2014 was over 1,000 for campers and staff. We look forward to having as many or more involved in our camp program for 2015.
We are pleased to announce that a Facebook page has been set up for the entire COGWA Youth Camp program. Now you can stay up on each camp through the year as it takes place in one location. The on-site action will begin next month with two preteen camps—Camp Sequoia in California and Camp Bob White in Missouri. Be sure to visit https://www.facebook.com/cogwayouthcamps to keep up with all the COGWA camps.
We still need a few specialized staff members for a couple of our camps. The Sequoia (California) teen camp is in need of a nurse and possibly a certified lifeguard. If you have the necessary credentials and would like to help by giving of your time in a majestic setting in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, please register now! As well, the Chattahoochee preteen camp in Georgia is also in need of a certified lifeguard.
We are happy to announce that the revised camp website is live, and registration is now open for our 2014 preteen and teen camps, as well as the Snowy Range Challenger program. Chattahoochee Preteen and Winter Camps are still finalizing some of the details and costs, but the site will be updated and their links added to the registration system as soon as all the details are set. The URL is the same as before, http://camps.cogwa.org, but we hope you will appreciate the look and feel of the new site with more graphics and videos.
This is also a good time to remind everyone that thanks to some additional help from Boot Scoot, a private fund-raiser, we are able to offer scholarships for all events on our COGWA Youth Camps (CYC) site—from preteen camps through the Challenger program. The process begins by contacting the director to let him know you would like to request some help. Not only will he send you the scholarship documents to fill in and pass along to your pastor for his input, but it will also let the director know not to expect full payment at this time.
As always, we are very grateful for all the support and especially the prayers offered up on behalf of CYC. We are eagerly anticipating God’s blessing on another wonderfully successful year!