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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    news article

    From the Advocate: God uses camp staff and campers to teach life lessons

    May 4, 2016 / By the Rev. Nancy Adams

    My first experience at the Sky Lake Camp & Retreat Center was as a camper when I was 12 years old. It was the first time I had ever been away from my family and was not at least with a grandparent. I went with a friend, although he was in a different cabin/family group.

    I had a great time!

    Our cabin challenged another cabin to a canoe race, and we won (with six of us kneeling in the canoe paddling with our hands).

    I can’t remember why I didn’t go the next year, but I did go as a 14-year-old, and when I was 15, became an “aide,” now called SNAP (Special Needs Assistant Personnel). I had a tough decision to make the next year, as the week I wanted to sign up for (to be an aide again) was also the week of Empire Girls’ State, as I was the one from my high school chosen for this honor. I went to Girls’ State, and while I was able to go Sky Lake for retreats, it turned out to be 10 years until I would be back for a week in the summer. By then, I was a special education teacher and was asked to direct a mini-special needs camp. Having not been there in the summer for so long, I asked if I could get reacquainted with the summer program by counseling at a special needs camp prior to directing my own. That request was enthusiastically granted.

    I have directed or counseled for a week every summer since 1985 – except for 1990, when I began as a full-time pastor, and 2014, when I was moving to the Mountain View District to become superintendent. I directed a three-day winter special needs camp in 1990 since I wasn’t going to be there that summer.

    Camp is addictive!

    Much of my leadership development has come as a result of my experiences at Sky Lake, as I came up through the ranks of camper, aide (junior counselor), counselor, director, and co-director. In addition to leadership development, my life has been profoundly impacted by my experiences at Sky Lake. I have at least one unexpected, profound experience each week of camp.

    One year, when Christian clowns acted out the story of the Good Samaritan, it left one of the clowns “beaten up” and on the ground. A non-verbal camper got up from his seat, visibly upset, and went over and knelt down to help the person on the ground. There wasn’t a dry eye. I will never forget that. Don’t try to tell me he didn’t get it! He got it! It’s the rest of us that need help getting the point. As a counselor, just days after I was ordained a deacon after my middle year of seminary, God used one of the campers to teach me one of the most profound lessons of my life – ask me sometime!

    Volunteer counselors often ask if they can counsel again, and that happened again this year. By the way, my camp is July 17-22, and as always, we’re looking for volunteers – especially males. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience. There’s a lot to learn from the campers; you won’t be sorry!

    The Rev. Nancy Adams is the Mountain View District Superintendent.

    TAGGED / Advocate / Camp and Retreat Ministry (CRM)


    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."