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In the life of an adolescent, views of the world and God are highly dependent on that of their parent or guardian. Growing up, the influence of who they are and who God is, comes from what they are told by mom and dad. Eventually, they are surrounded by peers whose influence slowly adds to their worldview of what they believe about God and themselves.
Emotionally, adolescents are overwhelmed by hormones and confusion of different feelings. They feel strong emotion but cannot pinpoint where it is coming from. These children begin to feel a distance and separation from their parents and draw closer to their peers who are experiencing similar things.
As this emotional rollercoaster is pushing youth from their parents, it is also pushing them further from God. The emotional development of an adolescent is not the only contribution to a lacking faith in children during this time. The church has a particularly hard time communicating what faith in God really means at this stage of life. Leaving youth confused and uninformed of God’s love and their significant role in God’s heart.
Kenda Dean hits the nail on the head in her book, Almost Christian. She talks about the rising number of teens today who practice Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD). “It offers comfort, bolsters self-esteem, helps solve problems, and lubricates interpersonal relationships by encouraging people to do good, feel good, and keep God at arm’s length.” This practice is not bad in a moral sense, but God is not at an arm’s length. God is all around and in every situation. He is as close as one's breath.
In this time where youth are clinging to this theology and feeling as if God is somehow uninterested in their life, Christian camp ministry is telling them the opposite. Coming to camp removes youth from their regular routines and places them in a safe environment where they can no longer rely on their friends or parents’ faith.
At camp, kids learn to make decisions about who God is based on the Gospel truth being presented to them in a space where they have time to reflect. Does this completely fix the issue of MTD? Not a chance, but it is a space of time where this idea is disassembled and pieced back together in truth.
College students who have devoted their summer to teaching youth the truth of God and His love have the opportunity to speak into areas where the camper normally has built up emotional walls. Youth find out the distance they think they are from God is merely a deeply rooted lie that they have believed. Camp helps youth reverse those lies and exchange them for truth.
 Dean, Kenda Creasy. Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2010.
Youth Program Manager
Warm Beach Camp
- Hits: 109
There is nothing like standing on a platform thirty feet off the forest floor while the rest of your team is telling you to jump! I remember the first time I experienced this. I felt my harness to make sure it was snug, tugged on the rope to make myself feel better, and hollered back at my team asking, “Are you ready?”
Once I was assured that the rest of my group was going to make sure I stayed air born, I jumped. As soon as my feet left the platform my heart sank. My hands grabbed onto the trapeze bar with no intention of letting go. Then it happened. The group leader told me to do the one thing I had no intentions of doing. Let go. So I did, and I was suspended off of the forest floor. After being slowly lowered to the ground, I was ready for round two!
Little did I realize, this was the beginning of a lifelong bond not easily broken. Do you have friends who will go through hell and high water for you? I know I do. Those friendships started with a day of team building.
It’s been a little over ten years since my first team building experience. Just the other day, one of the gentlemen from my group randomly showed up at my house to say, “hi.” I haven’t seen him in five years. But we have a connection that is not easily broken. We talked, laughed, and ate together. I can tell you with certainty that I trust him far more than many others I see daily.
So, why? Why put your youth or community group through a team building experience? Here is what I can tell you: team building invests in friendships. I have found, through my 10 years experience in team building and 12 years in youth ministry, that relationships are often developed and strengthened through team building experiences, and these friendship can last a lifetime!
I can’t tell you the number of times a team building friend has stopped by my home or asked me to catch up over a cup of coffee. Little did I know those friendships started with a silly high five and funny handshake during team building activities.
Challenge Course & Recreational Activities Manager
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center
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“I feel tired, sort of thin inside, like butter spread over too much toast,” Bilbo confesses to Gandalf. Kind of feels familiar for far too many of us. Burnout is one of the top, if not the top reason people leave camp ministry.
Early on, burnout may feel like over-anxiousness, irritability (anger or other extreme emotions) far in excess of the immediate cause, constant weariness, spiritual dryness, or detachment. You may feel trapped, like the Bono song describes, “On an island in the middle of a busy intersection, I can’t go forward and I can’t turn back…” Later on, the symptoms may manifest themselves in physical ways, such as sleeplessness, mysterious pain, or extreme weight gain or loss.
Our burnout doesn’t just affect us. Our relationships suffer. Often those closest to us suffer the most as we are often physically absent trying to get one more thing done or pouring ourselves into one more demanding “people situation.”
Working in camp ministry is exhilarating and dangerous to the soul. Here, you are helping others, sharing Christ, doing good, meeting needs, fixing, maintaining, and answering a blizzard of emails, texts, and voice mails every day. Pressures to perform with inadequate budgets and staff can drive us unreasonably. The dangers of burnout are all around. Here are five ways to avoid burnout I’ve learned over my 34 years of experience in camp ministry:
- Know yourself: Know what brings energy and what takes energy. Learn how to recognize signs of being over-extended before they reach a critical point. Don’t be the proverbial frog in the kettle who boils to death in the slow increase of heat.
- Learn to say “no” as the surest route to your truest “yes.” Learn to recognize the difference between distractions and opportunities. Choose your priorities carefully and keep them before you and your team.
- Schedule down time for spiritual, personal, and relationship renewal. Spend time in prayer and God’s Word daily. Have meaningful conversation or touch-points with your immediate family and/or close friends. Take walks and just soak in the beauty of your natural surroundings.
- Schedule days off and vacations where you actually leave the property and disengage for a period of time. Have coworkers who can cover for you when needed. Discipline yourself to not answer emails, voice mails, or calls while on vacation.
- Get a life! Literally. Don’t forget other avenues of life outside of camp ministry. Find a hobby, sport, circle of friends, or avenue of community service where you engage in something not directly tied to the camp. This is harder for those living in remote locations. Keep expanding your world.
There are no easy answers. Many good books, seminars, PhD studies, and more have contributed to a wide range of resources available on this topic.
Choose to be where you are and what you want to engage in. If you get in over your head, stop and reassess. If someone who knows you intervenes, listen. Choose wisely the ways in which you respond to situations, expectations and demands. Build in disciplines, accountability markers, and boundaries that keep you refreshed and engaged in sustainability to your calling.
Patrick Patterson, General Manager/C.O.O.
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center
- Hits: 176
Thank you for helping improve our facilities and grounds. Current projects include:
- Landscaping clean-up, dead tree removal, and lawn care.
- Cascadian Rooms 1-11 and lobby are being remodeled to match the lovely interior improvements done to rooms 12-30.
- The Mount Baker Cabin roofs have been pressure washed and cleaned.
- Plans to re-pave the circle drive in front of the Program Center and Cedar Lodge has begun. Included in the project are changes to the interior parking lot, commonly called “staff parking.” Through landscaping and better definition of parking spaces, this will increase parking, create a simpler lay-out, and beautify the grounds.
- Reroofing Cedar Lodge dining room and one staff cottage will be done later this year.
- The High Ropes Challenge Course improvements have been made! The improvements allow us to increase capacity while providing exceptional experiences to each participant.
Through our generous donors and volunteers, these improvements provide a place where people feel cared for and experience a place of beauty and refreshment.Add a comment
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Steve and Jacque Johnson began volunteering at Warm Beach Camp over four years ago. The couple dedicated their lives to service for the Lord and enjoyed working with youth and overseas missions. Steve spent 41 years working with the youth group at Wenatchee Free Methodist/Sage Hills Church. In 2005, Steve and one of his best friends, Ron Bundy, bought a shop where they repaired cars for single mothers and widows, and spent years ministering to hundreds.
Steve’s life was cut short at the age of 73 by cancer. Those who knew him would say he did more for others in those 73 years than most do in two lifetimes. Steve gave every ounce of himself away to others. He was kind, generous, and very hard working.
Warm Beach Camp was blessed by Steve’s service. The work of his hands is evident here. He helped build the new Chinook Cabins, a new storage building at the stables, and helped to remodel 19 rooms of Cascadian Lodge. Steve also helped upgrade the lighting in Cedar Lodge, fixed countless Camp vehicles, and volunteered at The Light of Christmas!
We praise the Lord for the life of Steve Johnson!Add a comment
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“Jesus replied, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” - John 6:35 NLT
They came out to the countryside to hear Jesus speak. Thousands of people gathered. People were hungry. There were not any caterers or food trucks standing by. Jesus took a small amount of food, and fed everyone to the full with leftovers!
The day ended. Jesus traveled to another town across the lake. The next day, people crossed the lake in boats to catch up with Jesus. People had lots of questions: Who is Jesus? What else can He do? Can He show us how to do the same thing? What do we have to do for all of this to continue and be possible in our own lives?
Pause the story for a moment.
You and I are very familiar with the next amazing solution for our lives. From diets to gadgets, we are marketed “miracles” that will change our lives forever (individual results may vary). There is something about us that seeks ultimate solution. We want the best and we want it all. As a result, our culture is up to its eyeballs in debt, straining for the next best thing to solve issues in our lives.
Back to the story.
Jesus makes a simple statement to everyone: I am the bread of life. He goes on to respond to their questions by telling them that only one thing is asked of them: Believe in Jesus as God’s Son. Jesus continues by saying, contrary to other food that does not last, He provides food that lasts forever through His very life. Jesus makes a challenge: Focus on what lasts. Physical food spoils. It has to constantly be replenished. Believing in Jesus as the source of eternal food (life forever) that never spoils.
The story continues to a point of conflict. Jesus literally uses the image of His own flesh and blood as that which needs to be fed upon to participate in this life that lasts forever. This was hard for people to understand then as it is now. There was a time, as described in the Old Testament of the Bible, where the flesh and blood of animals were used as a sacrifice for our sins. It was the sacrificing of animals that kept us in relationship with God. This had to be repeated according to the details of God’s law.
Jesus comes along and talks about an eternal sacrifice that does not have to be repeated. It literally involves His own flesh and blood, once and for all. In effect, for everyone to feed on.
There is an ancient meal known as the Passover where the provision of God providing life in the midst of death literally happened. Wine and unleavened bread are taken to remember the day God provided life when death came knocking.
Jesus ties into this history. He knew the people would understand the connection. The way of animal sacrifice was a lot of work and effort. Jesus is taking the entire work of the sacrifice onto Himself, forever. His body. His blood.
In the Church today, we symbolize eating and drinking of Jesus through the sharing of Communion. This sacrament is a repurposing of the Passover. It literally means that Jesus gave us life when death came calling. This meal represents the sacrifice of Jesus to bring us into right standing before God, forever. The entire meal symbolically represents his flesh and blood.
At this point in the story, many people left Jesus. This teaching seemed bizarre and difficult.
Jesus points out that we cannot pull this off in our own effort. It is not enough to simply say, “I am going to do this through my own interest and effort.” It requires the pursuit and invitation of God the Father, Jesus’ Father. The Father draws us to His Son. He invites us and draws us close. With His help and pursuit of us, we are able to respond to Jesus.
The 12 disciples stay with Jesus because of this truth.
Faith in Jesus is not a fad or a trend. Contrary to our “self-help” culture, we cannot pull this off by ourselves. God brings us to Jesus and invites us to the bread of life that lasts forever.
Thank You for being the bread of my life. Father God, thanks for drawing me to Jesus. I love You. Today I give fresh focus to believing and dwelling with You. I long to pursue You and Your kingdom forever.
In Your name Jesus I pray,
Ed McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center
- Hits: 166
"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest'"
Matthew 11:28 NLT https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.11.28.NLT
I am weary and carry burdens that are heavy. Do you?
It seems that the most common response I receive in regards to how people are doing today involves being fatigued or under a heavy load in one way or another.Do you identify with any of the following categories? Which ones apply to your life right now?
- Relationships under stress
- Too much debt
- Vocational challenges
- Over commitment
- Not enough food
- No insurance
- Lack of opportunity
- Culture and politics
- The need to change
- Bitterness and resentment
- Insecurity and anxiety
I am sure each of us can add specifics to this list that includes names of people and organizations we love and care about.
Along comes Jesus. He lays out a way of living in relationship to Him that is profound:
- A new beginning
- Transformation over time
- Peace that is beyond our own understanding
- Joy that surprises
- A constant advocate on our behalf
- Provides wisdom in real time
- He never leaves us
- Love that is stronger than fear
If you are already a follower of Jesus, you too can fill out this list of God’s incredible faithfulness in your life.
Jesus makes a simple offer: Come to Him.
Jesus promises: I will give you rest.
I am going to Jesus right now, right here, because rest sounds good right about now.
Thank You for the invitation. Even this morning, I was tempted to bypass coming to You for rest. There is so much to be done, and taking time to rest with You seems counterproductive to the endless lists and needs of people and organizations in my life.
Thank You for pursuing me this morning and bringing me into Your rest. Thank You for letting me give to you my weariness and burdens. Please lead, guide and provide in each of these areas.
Thank You for Your generous peace.
With gratitude in Your name Jesus I pray.
Ed McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center
- Hits: 196
When I was asked to talk about my experience at Warm Beach Summer Youth Camp, I struggled at first because there is truly no accurate way to describe an experience so life-changing. Eventually, I pinned down the three best parts of my camp experience. The environment created by the staff, the time away from normal habits, and unique and amazing opportunities for personal growth. These three things made my summer incredibly fulfilling.
During my time at camp, staff came together and created a special culture of acceptance and growth. I was surrounded by amazing people. I couldn’t escape feeling welcomed and encouraged to grow in my relationship with Christ. The bonds I formed at camp were not just surface level, but deep, spiritually rooted friendships. My coworkers became friends I could count on and trust to challenge me to become better.
Camp life is different from what most people are used to. I have been involved with camp for several years but last summer, as a cabin guide, was a new experience. Being an example of Christ for the campers pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to be a better person. Through that process I created habits that were healthy and didn’t revolve around comfort. I realized God had so much more planned for me than the routine I had fallen into. Putting my wants, and cell phone, away for even 12 hours a day yielded rich rewards. These rewards weren’t simply momentary. I took those habits home with me and saw an improvement in self-worth, work ethic, and overall joy
The last, and greatest, part of camp for me was the opportunity to be a role model for the next generation of kids. To teach them the things I wish someone had taught me. Camp was my chance to become something more, something greater, and be part of a life-changing culture.
2018 Summer Camp Counselor (Cabin Guide)
and Current Program Intern
Warm Beach Camp
- Hits: 329
I have had the pleasure of seeing how horse partnerships impact campers’ lives, bringing self-confidence and joy. Some campers come to horsemanship fearful and by the end of their program ride confidently with their new horse friend.
Horses have so much to teach us about trust, leadership and self-confidence. Through horsemanship I aim to teach students that in relationship with their horse they can become effective leaders. If given clear cues and treated with respect, a horse will begin to view the child as the leader. Students gain an enormous amount of self-confidence when they see the positive results of their leadership.
Like any healthy team environment there must be mutual trust and respect for the leader to lead well, and the team to willingly follow the vision and instruction of the leader. I love seeing the joy these lessons bring to students and how this learning overflows into other areas of their lives.
- Hits: 305
"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." - James 1:19 NLT
Every person I know, or have met throughout my life, hopes to have healthy and meaningful relationships. Around the many campfires of Warm Beach Camp I have had the privilege of listening to people experiencing the joy that comes with healthy relationships and the pain of broken families, marriages, and friendships. There is a common thread in all of it: People long for good relationships in their lives.
Good relationships have some things in common. Here are three points of wisdom from the Bible for anyone interested in cultivating healthy, Christ-centered relationships in every sector of life:
Be quick to listen: Listening is the core activity in understanding someone else’s perspective. We live in a culture where “quick to speak” is the norm. Talking all the time gives no room for understanding someone else. Constant talking turns the focus on oneself. Listening is the foundation for knowing other people.
Be slow to speak: It has been said that true listening is not thinking about the next thing to be said as soon as there is a break in the conversation. Listening consists of receiving what the other person has to say, and actually reflecting on it before responding. Ask clarifying questions about the content of the conversation to encourage further understanding. Resist quickly trying to get the next word in.
Be slow to get angry: Anger in relationships does not produce healthy results. Hot-tempered and quick flashing anger creates incredible instability within other people. Trust and safety become eroded. There are appropriate uses for anger, but it is far less often than we might think. Don’t turn to anger over the insignificant. Don’t come to anger quickly. Reserve anger as a response to significant issues in a relationship that are not right and need to be addressed in an urgent manner. Even then, be slow and careful in showing anger in a way that communicates true concern because the relationship is what really matters.
Consider increasing your ability to listen to others. Focus less on what you are going to say. Only use anger in thoughtful and measured ways that communicate true concern for the relationship regarding essential issues.
God’s Word comes through again, giving us wisdom for all of our relationships.
Ed McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center
- Hits: 378
Ladies Night Out was an event that will not soon be forgotten. Preparations were made, prayers were said, centerpieces were placed, and the smell of bacon wrapped cheesy jalapeno hors d'oeuvres filled the Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center in downtown Stanwood. I don't think I'm alone when I say that the Ladies Night Out Auction benefiting Special Friends Camp at Warm Beach Camp was wildly successful.
As all eyes were fixed on the video of a day at Special Friends Camp, a camp for adults with special needs, I felt a shift take place. Smiles widened, eyes became teary, and cheers came freely as campers whizzed by on the zip-line or tackled the climbing wall and rang the victory bell! No wheelchairs, leg braces, withered legs, or lack of sight held those determined souls on the ground!
Following the video, the 180 women in attendance were asked to consider sponsoring a day of camp for one camper at $92 a day. As the last words of the request for sponsors were spoken, the white bidder numbers flew off tables in an overwhelming sea of YES! Like a mighty wave cresting on the ocean, a powerful movement of compassion, generosity, and tangible joy moved through the crowd and flooded my heart with humbling gratitude.
I watched as women held their bidder number in one hand and displayed how many days of camp they would like to sponsor, if more than one day, on the other hand. Two days, three days, four days, 10 days... even 24 days were sponsored by individual women moved to change lives through Special Friends Camp!
Even as I type the words now, I am in awe of the movement of the Lord in those moments. The love and desire to make a way for those who cannot make a way on their own was overwhelming.
At the final count, 152 days of camp were sponsored and over $33,000 raised overall! This far exceeded any expectations and the whoops and hollers of victory were proof! Every minute of Special Friends Camp is an opportunity for a miracle, a life to change, hope to be restored, and worth to be realized. I am forever changed by the outpouring of kindness I witnessed in my own little town. What an amazing special night!
Margaret Elaine Spears
Special Friends Camp Chaplain/Lead Staff