From Rev. Stephanie Vader:

For 13 years a team of adult volunteers from Emmanuel have led Mini Camp, an overnight United Methodist Camp at West River Retreat Center in West River, MD. Each year, on the second week of July, seven adults from Emmanuel arrive at camp with their cars full of books, Legos, board games, craft supplies, water game supplies, hula hoops, Bible story activities, sunscreen and bug spray, and lots of love for the 30 rising 2-4th graders who join us at camp.

Emmanuel’s Mini Camp adults enjoy providing a safe and fun overnight camping experience for our young campers. Summer sleep away camps are good for kids and parents. Camp forces kids to figure things out on their own, deal with their own feelings and stumbles. Campers grow in confidence as they navigate things like asking for what they want to eat in the cafeteria and doing their bedtime routine. Campers gain confidence by trying new things; riding the banana boat, doing the climbing wall, canoeing, learning archery and more. But they’re never entirely on their own. They have adult counselors who are always nearby, peers and new friends. At camp kids grow as they learn to have more faith in themselves and learn that they’ll be okay for a few days and nights without their parents. Most summers we have a least one mini camper who feels like they just cannot make it to pick up day, but with the support of the Mini Camp adult counselors and their fellow campers they make it. Those campers are full of pride when their parents arrive and they get to tell them about their week.

Camp is a great place for kids to get comfortable stretching their wings and flying on their own. It is also good for parents to get used to the fact that children will fly away and live their own lives. Helping your children get ready to fly away is part of your job as a parent. Camp helps parents practice letting go of their children so they can have opportunities to gain confidence in themselves and their faith. Send your children to camp this summer because you need to practice letting them go as much as they need to practice leaving.

Camperships (camp scholarships) are available to help send children to camp. Contact the church office at 301-725-5200 or office@eumclaurel.org for details.

Here are some important links for further reading and exploration:

  • For an excellent article on the benefits of attending a summer camp, click here.
  • For more information on Baltimore-Washington Conference’s Retreat and Camping Ministries, click here.
  • To explore West River’s program offerings, click here.
  • To explore Manidokan’s program offerings, click here.
  • To explore Camp Harmison’s program offerings, click here.