Conference: I don’t want to be your Camp Best Friend…

Written by Pam Murphy, Director of Visual Outreach: PNW UMC Camping Ministry,

Last Fall I created a little contest that showed the best bits of each of our camps (read here). It didn’t feel right to do that again…partly because so many people were upset that they didn’t win the taco bar category. My apologies…never again will I judge taco bar 😉 I do however feel morally obligated to say that three of the camps really stepped up their bacon game this year! I won’t say which camps but you know who you are!

One of the best things that came out of this summer was making a new friend. During FOB (Feet on Bunk) time he and I were sitting on the couch coloring (like adults do) and he says to me “you are my camp best friend”. I chuckled and probably blushed and then we went back to our colored pencil masterpieces.  

He didn’t mean it this way but Camp Best Friend seems to have the connotation of getting really close really fast at camp with no intention to continue the friendship outside of camp. That sort of connection breaks my heart a little bit. I crave more than that. I want real, genuine connection with people inside AND outside of camp.

I don’t want to be your camp best friend because I want to be your real friend whom you happened to meet at camp.

This summer our theme was The Way. The title passage being Ephesians 5:1-2, “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” That’s The Message interpretation…thank you Eugene.

My takeaway from this summer was that it IS possible to take camp home with you.

To the individual:

A little bit goes a long way in making people feel loved and accepted. Small things like smiling at someone when you pass them on the street or picking something up that someone dropped are both meaningful acts. In an effort to go deeper with people though, invite a new friend over for dinner, or sit as a family around the table. Get out of your comfort zone and ask people questions that you have been timid to ask. Try to get to know people who are different from you; learn about them and what makes them think the way they do.

To the church:

Even though they may not show it, people really want to go deeper. Provide spaces for that. Camp is only one week out of the year for most people, they need your support the other 51 weeks. Check in with your members as much as possible. Continue to challenge your members in ways that spark growth.

A lot of people think of their camp life and their regular life as two separate things. Camp life is the idealistic version and regular life tends to be harder. Whether or not you went to camp this summer I’d urge you to try and apply some of these actions to your day to day. “Actions” is the key word there…go, and ACT in love towards others.

Tell us how you bring your camp life into your daily life?

Conference: 10 Questions To Ask Your Camper On The Way Home

Written by Alan Rogstad (Camping ministries Executive Director) and Pam Murphy (Camping Ministries Director of Visual Outreach),

For some kids the ride home is an explosion of laugher and constant chatter of memories from the week. For those who are less naturally boisterous here are 10 questions you can ask them to get the conversation going.


1. Tell me about something that you did for the first time this week.

-Camp offers a safe place to do things for the first time so we hope your camper was able to experience something new and exciting.


2.What was the biggest challenge for you this week?

-One of our goals at our camps is to get kids out of their comfort zones just enough that it sparks growth. We love to see how kids grow in unexpected ways at camp.


3.Who was your favorite staff member? Why?

-For many campers, a staff member or counselor makes an impact that campers remember the rest of their lives. Our staff constantly strives to provide the ultimate experience for campers through a good balance of fun/crazy and caring/kind.


4.What was your favorite song? Will you sing it for me?

-We totally recognize that your teens are probably not going to want to sing for you…if you have a younger camper your chances are better 😉


5.What was the craziest or grossest thing someone did this week?

-The camp experience isn’t complete without getting a little dirty and a few wholesome shenanigans.


6.What was your favorite meal?

-We bet your camper will say…Taco Bar! Or….Pancakes! Or…well…ok…all the meals are good so they could tell you anything 😉 On second thought, let’s not bet on it.


7.Tell me about 3 new friends you made?

-Some of our favorite stories to hear are when life-long friendships are made at camp. We hope your camper was able to connect with some new people this summer.


8.What did you learn about God/Jesus that you could share with others?

-This year’s curriculum theme is “The Way” based off Ephesians 5: 1-2 “Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children, and living in love, as Christ loved us.” In addition our daily themes are: Feeding, Forgiving, Loving the Neighbor, Serving Humbly, and Prayer. Maybe ask your camper more specific questions based off those themes?


 9.What was your favorite part of the week?

-No explanation needed…”nuf said” 😉


10.What camp session do you want to go to next summer and who do you want to invite?

-Our camps offer a variety of camp sessions for every interest and age. We’d love to see your camper return plus their friends to share the experience with next year. Here is a sneak peek on our discounts and deals for next year:

-Early Bird Registration Discount: If you register by April 1st 2018 you get $20 off registration instantly!

-Bring A Friend Deal: When you recommend a new friend to camp we will give you and your friend a sweet exclusive t-shirt and $25 to the camp store! Make sure to register by June 1st for this one!

Lazy F: Real Men Don’t Go to Church Camp

Written by Glen Brannon, 


Years ago, and I mean years ago, if you would have asked me what I thought about Church Camps I would have told you something along the lines of real men don’t go to Church Camps.  I was raised backpacking and climbing here in the Great Northwest and had always made it a point to stay as far away from organized camping as possible.  Real outdoorsmen experienced the wonders of nature by themselves or maybe in small groups of close friends.  The outdoors was a place best experienced in quiet solitude.  Besides, didn’t they sit around the camp fire and have to sing songs at Church Camps?


When I met the wonderful young woman that somehow I would bamboozle into becoming my wife, I was looking forward to showing her what real camping was all about.  I had these dreams of climbing mountains and wandering the mountain meadows, walking along happily with the wonderful new person in my life.  She was game and excited that she wanted to go camping with me.  What I didn’t know was that she was already a camper.  She had grown up going to all the Methodist Church Camps, and she was as excited to share her experiences with me, as I was to share mine with her.


During our courting years, my future wife started to mold me into the husband that she wanted.  I loved to spend time with her, but she had some rules.  One of the rules was that she attended Church.  Now I was a good Church going guy, raised in the Church and all that, but at this time in my life there were so many other things to do on Sunday mornings.  I mean, wasn’t I supposed to be spreading my wings and trying new things?  I wanted to head out into the wilds and spend the night under the stars.  Problem was that it was hard to make it to Church in the morning if I was waking up in the wilderness. 


Funny thing was that I found that I liked going to Church.  I liked the people and I met other men who liked to do what I did.  Maybe this God and Church thing wasn’t so bad.  But then, the love of my life told me about Church Camping.  No way, a man has to have boundaries.  So being smarter than I, she merrily went off and had fun without me and I continued to experience nature the way God intended, by myself!


This went on for several years, she spent summers staffing and volunteering at different Church Camps and I tried to make time for my adventures.  I found as we started our family that I had less and less time for my sort of camping.  I was becoming older and maybe a little bit wiser.  At least I had more responsibilities.  I found it hard to find time to slip away as we started our family.  Don’t take me wrong, I was loving my life!  I had a great wife, two great kids, a dog, a house payment and a career, but my back packing gear was starting to look a little neglected gathering dust in the garage.


My wife had always invited me to join her at camp and finally I decided that maybe if I went with her then I will at least be in the right neighborhood.  I confess that I first went with a calloused heart.  I didn’t want to enjoy myself.  But, of course, I did.  I found that I didn’t have to go days without a shower to truly enjoy God’s Creation.   In fact those lumpy camp beds were pretty comfortable after a long day camping.


Well many more years have gone by, my backpacking gear is getting used more now that the boys have become involved in Scouting, but I am now a dyed in the wool Church Camper.  What a great place to experience God’s creation.  The Bible tells us to gather together and that where two or more are gathered he is there as well.  There is truly something special about Church Camping and I will forever be grateful to my loving wife for dragging this old dinosaur into it.  I even howl a little at the camp fires now and then.

Conference: Raising Leaders

Co-written by Pam Murphy (Director of Visual Outreach) and Alan Rogstad (Executive Director of PNW Camping),

A lot of people think that religious camps are either just fun and don’t provide much “benefit” or that they’re a super serious experience filled with altar calls and hours upon hours of prayer at a time. We like to think our UM camps hit a healthy balance of the two.

For all you good people

who like The Office…

we know you’re out there 😉

Our purpose is essentially to be an extension of the church. We share the mission to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” That being said we definitely go about it in a different way 😉

Pam reflects: I don’t think kids come home from church camp and proclaim, “You’ll never believe it, I had an existential moment and found God in the Mud Pit!” However, that would be cool. #MudPitJesus #ThatShouldBeAThing

What does happen through all that mud throwing, water skiing, and zip line fun is that kids are watching their young adult counselors be silly and genuine with them, take care of them, and model the gospel for them. Because of all that, THE KIDS WANT TO BECOME LIKE THEIR COUNSELORS! That’s pretty cool too!

I was 11 years old when I went to camp for the first time. My counselor that year (who’s real name I never knew but we called Ladybug) made a HUGE impact on me and most definitely set me on the path to where I am now. I was a shy kid who felt invisible to the world. On the last day, Ladybug gave me an award, “Woman of Many Hidden Talents”. For the first time, I felt like someone saw me, and in that moment I knew that I wanted to be like her. Ladybug, if you’re out there…thank you 🙂

I went on to be a camp counselor for a few years and now I’m using some of those “hidden talents” to work for our camping conference and have also found myself providing leadership in my church. Shout out to Covenant UMC in Spokane, WA!

Many of my camp friends have also become leaders in their churches and communities. A few of them were recently ordained into the UM Church. Some now lead children’s, youth, or music ministries while others have chosen a variety of helping vocations.

My point is…camp raises leaders, and those leaders turn around and pour those talents back into the church. #ThisSoundsSoEvangelical #IWasRaisedPresbyterian #WhatAmIDoing #OkNoMoreHashtagsIPromise

Alan resonates with what Tom Rosenberg, President and CEO of the American Camp Association wrote in the April issue of “Camping” magazine;

“What are your earliest transcendent memories as a child? For me, they were in the woods or on the trail at camp with my counselors and cabin group. Sitting around the campfire feeling the warmth of friendships and listening to the rhythm of crickets and bull frogs. Gazing in awe on wondrous wilderness from a lofty mountain peak. These were deeply inspiring and spiritual moments for me as a child, and I have always believed that my leaders and role models at camp were instrumental in helping me discover and understand my own spirituality”.

Alan continues: I would go on to say we are living in perhaps the most challenging time ever spiritually, environmentally and socially. We need all the tools at our disposal to intervene and reach a world desperate for meaning and spiritual connection. We need to develop leaders with moral character equipped to work on the most profound problems we’ve ever faced. Camps fill an increasingly valuable role in this.

Camp intentionally provides kids their first serious exposure to gifted young leaders, as well as leadership opportunities in their teens and young adult years. Camp also specializes in providing places set apart from the trappings & pressures of current culture. This is a powerful combination for young people exploring and testing what they will soon become.

The case for camping is that the world, our country, and OUR CHURCH need what we do at camp. We can be thankful that in the PNW Conference, we have four amazing camps.

Send your kids to camp this summer and watch them grow. And hey, if your church is lacking in the tiny human department, send your big kids (adults) to camp…we have programs for all ages. For more information about our camping ministry check out our website www.pnwcamps.org

Lazy F: From Cautious and Uncertain to Excited to Return

Written by Marcia Wilson: Camper Mom,


Lazy F is a perfect vehicle for parents who want their growing youngsters to stretch their wings. I would highly recommend this camp. My oldest always looks forward to registration (and lets me know ahead of time when to start looking) and this year his little sister: “Check this one out, and this one, and that one…”


Lazy F is a good fit for several reasons:

  1. The staff is clearly well trained and confident.
  2. The environment allows a large choice of camping opportunities based on age, time of year, and even time of day (there’s a Nocturnal Camp called Night Owl!).
  3. It requires some planning to get there, but that is part of the appeal. As the saying goes, “The long trip is part of the gift”.


My son went from cautious and uncertain “Why do you sign me up for this stuff Mom I don’t know anyone here” to “I really need to go again + the extra camps on the list!” On his first trip up he barely spoke. On the way home it was a waterfall of words.


Even when the right words fail to rattle out, the positive feeling Lenwood has for the camp are front and center. Instead of taking Lazy F camps as a “goof off from home” he always comes back charged up with a fresh sense of purpose and a sharpened focus on his life’s goals. No ordinary camp could create this sort of response. I can’t wait to see what Lazy F will do for his sister on her first trip. She’s tired of feeling jealous and wants to collect the experience for herself.


“Thanks to Marcia Wilson for sharing her thoughts with us on what makes Lazy F a good fit for her family and a unique experience for her son, Lenwood. Lenwood attended Winter Camp the last two years and our Leader in Training Camp in Summer of 2016.” – Katie Rau: Lazy F Program Coordinator


Lazy F: “At camp, I discovered my voice”

Photo Caption (Above): While volunteering as the camp pastor for LIT camp, Cody and friends preform a passionate rendition of “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen.

by Cody Natland (Tonka), Lazy F camper, staffer, volunteer, and current pastor of Central UMC & Bay View UMC  

For those of you who know me as “Tonka” at camp — for those who have heard me sing ridiculous songs, make bad puns, and share messages around the campfire — this may come as a surprise.

When I went to Lazy F the first time, in early High School, I was incredibly shy.  Painfully shy.  Social interaction with new people was an incredibly challenging and anxiety-inducing task.  And yet, through some prodding and encouragement from my brother and folks at my local church, I ended up going, still fairly reluctantly, to winter camp at Lazy F.

I can still remember being introduced to the deans for the week — Carrie Lingow and Carrie Bland — and being a bit overwhelmed by their energy and enthusiasm…  But also intrigued by the spirit, passion, and authenticity of those incredible women.  I knew right away that camp was a unique place.  I think I knew right away that my life was never going to be the same.

I know it sounds like hyperbole to say that camp changed my life, but I don’t know how else I would describe what camp has meant to me.  Camp has shaped what it means to me to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and camp has shown me what it means to seek to transform the world.  Because who, after going to camp, wouldn’t want to see the rest of the world be just a little more like camp?!  Jesus had a word for that — the kingdom of God.  I truly believe that a week at camp offers a glimpse into God’s kingdom.

At camp, I found a community that supported me and encouraged me.  At camp, I found people who valued me in a way that I’d never experienced before, and gained the confidence I needed to overcome my shyness.  

At camp, I discovered my voice.  

I also developed a deep love for God’s creation.  As a camper, a staff member, and a camp pastor, I’ve spent more nights in a teepee than I care to count, listening to the sound of the creek and the rustling of tree branches.  I’ve hiked to the cross so many times, I know the layout of the camp against the forest that surrounds it like the back of my hand.  I’ve learned the value of clean water for drinking and for playing — and I’ve felt the pain of dehydration when that water isn’t at hand on a hot day.  I’ve encountered creatures I had no idea existed in Eastern Washington (just look at the wall of the shower house at night, underneath the light — it’s a whole world of beautiful creatures!), and felt the joy of knowing that the God who created such wonderful creatures has also created me.

That love for creation has led me to advocate for God’s creation in my community.  Whether it is coal trains and oil trains that threaten the Skagit River with pollution, and the loss of clean drinking water for the communities downstream…  Or the threat of environmental pollutants threatening the creatures that call Padilla Bay home…  Or the loss of wetlands to deforestation and development…  I’ve learned to use my voice to advocate for environmental justice, for the plants, the creatures, and the earth itself that have no voice to speak on their own.  Creation care has become an integral piece of my ministry, and I am passionate about making sure that future generations are able to go out enjoy creation — whether at one of our beautiful camps, or walking along the mudflats on Padilla Bay, or whatever piece of creation is in their own backyard.

And I hope that, when they do, they’ll catch a glimpse of God’s kingdom.

We’d love to hear from you too. Tell us about YOUR camp story in the comments below. 

Marry Christmas!

Lazy F: “And because of all of this, I give”

by Shannon Brannon, Co Chairperson for Lazy F Dining Hall Campaign Team

I give of my time, prayers and finances because I know the change in a life that camp can bring.  I know firsthand the “first time at camp” experience, both as a camper, and as a leader.  “Camp” is something that is hard to put into words, but has become an integral part of my core.  At camp, I can breathe. At camp, I can think clearer, I can love those around me just because.  I can be silly, I can be serious, I can be the person God intends for me to be!  And because of all of this, I give.  I have received so much from all of my camping experiences and so, it’s important for me to give back.

But why else do I give. I know that the ministry of Lazy F Camp is alive, vibrant and growing.  I know that Lazy F Camp is doing it’s part to build new leaders in the United Methodist Church and I know that I want to be a part of all of that.

I ask that you to consider being a part of this fantastic opportunity to give to move Lazy F Camp forward into many more years of successfully spreading the Good News of God’s glory & love!

To learn more about donating to our campership fund click the “Donate NOW” button below.  

Lazy F: The Four Fs of Lazy F

by Zack McGuckin, Lazy F High School Camper and LIT

When I got around to writing this, I had no idea how to structure it. I have had many great experiences at camp and it means a lot to me. How could I include all of this in a complete and structured piece of writing while still keeping it accessible and brief. That is when I had the idea of the four Fs of Lazy F. The four Fs each represent something that camp means to me.


At camp, I have met some of my best friends. I was at L.I.T. with a group of seven youth. The last day, we went around the circle complementing each other. It took three hours between the seven of us and three adults. I have stayed in contact with everyone who was at that camp and we still talk on the regular. Camp doesn’t just give you friends for a week; camp gives you friends for life.



Another great thing about camp is it is really, really fun. Activities like the Water or Messy Olympics are an absolute blast. At Winter Camp, you get to go sledding which is tons of fun. Even when there isn’t a planned activity, it is still fun to just hang out with your fellow campers. You can be yourself and have a blast doing it.



Over my years going to Lazy F, I have grown in my faith an incredible amount. When I started going to camp I was quiet and shy and didn’t even own my own bible. Now, I have a bible and am always willing to lead worship or prayer. I have developed an understanding of the bible and showcase my faith through my words and actions both inside and outside of camp. If it wasn’t for the influences of my councilors and fellow campers, I would not be able to achieve this place in my faith.



Lazy F is more than a camp that I spend a couple of weeks at every summer, Lazy F is my home. My councilors and fellow campers are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Lazy F is a place where I feel 100% comfortable and wanted. It is a place where I have a constant smile in my face. It is a place where I see and feel God’s constant presence. It is a place where I see old friends and make new ones. It is my favorite place to be and I can’t wait to go back later this summer. 


If you are considering going to camp or signing up your kids, I would highly recommend it. Although I talked about Lazy F, I have attended Twinlow, Indianola and Ocean Park and felt God work through all of them. Camp is a place of miracles, joy and worship. Lives are changed at camp, my life has.


Lazy F: Second Home

by Jim Grob

We were blessed to begin our connection with Lazy F when our daughter, Olivia, was just four, and my wife volunteered as camp nurse. Olivia is now 16 and takes great pride in saying she has been to camp every year since. For Olivia, summer means Lazy F.  She calls it “her time” and her “second home” to renew her faith, have fun, be in nature, and, most importantly, be herself. She is almost giddy with excitement at the thought of reconnecting with camp friends and counselors each summer (and now also winter as an older camper). 

As parents, we see Olivia come home very much renewed and re-grounded after being away from her cell phone, Snapchat, Facebook, and teen sports for a week.  Not many places provide that kind of escape for kids these days, but the Manastash canyon and the camp’s program and spiritual focus provide that magic elixir. As parents who come from somewhat differing Christian experiences, the combination of a camp experience in God’s great outdoors, coupled with the warm, accepting, and loving Christian experience that Jesus’ teaching embodies, we feel Lazy F is just the perfect place for any child to have as part of their growing up experience.

Lazy F: Spring To-Do List

Spring to do list:

 hire awesome staff

 stock the pond with trout

 line up camp pastors

 cut firewood

 get lots of campers!

Spring is the time where we are getting ready for the busiest time of the year. It is the time to prepare for the invasion of campers and the fun energetic staff who work with them. There are a multitude of details that need to be addressed that relate to the program. There is lots of planning that is behind all the fun, cool activities that occur week after week. We are also busy preparing the buildings and grounds so we are cleaned up from the winter and looking good for all the campers and guests.

We have lots of help in getting things accomplished so we are ready. Our staff put in a lot of hours and are very dedicated to our mission of helping people grow in faith. There are a number of volunteer groups who pitch in. This spring we have had a variety of volunteer groups already, and many others coming soon: CWU Wesley, Trust Project, Scout Troop 945, Tool Time Tuesday, Aldersgate UMC Families, Federal Way Men's Group, Marysville UMC Men, and Cornerstone UMC. We deeply appreciate all these folks do to make improvements, we could not do it without you!

Spring chores are sometimes a bit tedious and may be monotonous, but we are encouraged that we are doing these tasks for a wonderful reason: we are super excited to have the kids here in a couple of months. It is great to see the energy of the campers, notice the excitement they exude in the games, observe the friendships that are formed in a short period, and see the awe portrayed when they discover a new creature or plant. And ultimately, it fills our soul to witness the personal relationship with Christ that deepens during a week of camp. This makes all the chores more bearable!