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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    news article

    Casowasco LIT program is a success

    July 26, 2022 / By Shannon Hodson / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    They have matured, built friendships that may last a lifetime, increased their confidence, deepened their relationship with God, and gained top-notch leadership skills in just one month. The Leaders in Training (LITs) at Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center completed their one-month training on July 22, 2022.

    Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center, site director, David Weber Jr. offered this program for the first time this summer and it’s the first time anything like this has been offered in the Upper New York Conference.

    The intent of the program is to prepare rising juniors in high school to develop leadership skills needed to become a counselor at camp and to lead any ministry at their local church.

    David said, “The LIT training was a remarkable success. The LIT candidates grew tremendously in their faith walk, in their individuality, and as a team. They learned what it means to lead a team in a Christian setting for the transformation of the world.”

    On June 27, 2022, 16-year-olds Kylie VanPatten, Ashley Dillon, Ryan Caldwell, Freddy Weber, and Joel Cooper; and 17-year-old Kate McKenzie began their journey as LITs. They were guided by counselors Shannon Sierzenga and Terrence Henry.

    The beginning

    The first few days of the LITs time together included a lot of icebreaker/get-to-know-one-another games and also training on how to facilitate the low-ropes course. They signed a covenant at the beginning of their training.

    Freddy said, “Hanging around these guys has been great. Since signing our covenant, we feel mutually respected.”

    The five other LITs all agreed.  

     The middle

    By the middle of the training, the LITs learned how to facilitate the high-ropes course, how to sail, how to kayak or canoe nine miles, and how to “live” in the highland woods for a few nights. They became CPR and First-Aid Certified. They started leading All-Camp-Activity (ACA) and started planning chapel services. Kylie, Freddy, and Ashley began their lifeguard certification training.

    All claimed to have gained confidence in leading large groups.

    The LITs were developing strong friendships.

    Kylie said, “We’ve gotten way too comfortable with each other.”

    The LITs also matured by this point. Ryan said, “The program is definitely changing my maturity level; it’s teaching me what type of person I want to be.”

    The final days

    During the final weeks of training, the LITs spent a day at the UNY Mission Central HUB to learn more about what we do as a Conference. They worked on and implemented the worship service for their final day of camp. Three became lifeguards. They all successfully lead different program areas and they all shadowed different counselors the last week.

    All LITs spoke of the spiritual impact the program had on them. Freddy said, “This program has changed me in a positive way, spiritually. I wasn’t as close with myself. I was always stressed, always worrying. I feel like I’m better able to connect with people. I feel more at ease. You go to Chapel every day, which is life changing.”

    While the LIT training program was intense, all six LITs expressed that it was fun, an experience they will always remember, and they all feel that they have gained the skills needed to become exemplary camp staff members.

    In fact, some of the LITs are applying to work at Casowasco this summer!

    What’s next

    Over the next few weeks, you will be introduced to each of the LITs through profile blogs. These blogs will help you to see how impactful the LIT training program was for these six Upper New York teens.

    David said, “This will be an ongoing program. It will be offered again next year right at the beginning of the camp season again. We’re not just building Christian leaders for Casowasco, but leaders for the transformation of the world. I am going to do this as long as I can, to build leaders for the next generation of the Church.”

    In addition to traditional summer-camp offerings, you will begin seeing more faith-building and fun events offered at Casowasco throughout the fall, winter, and spring as well. For instance, there will be a Father-Child retreat in September and a Christmas party in December.

    TAGGED / Camp and Retreat Ministry (CRM)


    With more than 134,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 85 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."