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UMTV: Summer Church Camp


Miles away from iPhones and the Internet, young people by the millions still go away to summer camp. Lilla Marigza reports that not much has changed over the last 50 years, and camp organizers say that's a good thing.


(Locator: Lyles, Tennessee)

(Song leader with guitar sings) "Jesus loves me."

(Kids sing) "J-E-S-U-S, whoo!"

Ahhh ... summer camp ... most of it is just as you may remember it.

(Counselor holding ball) "Here we go."

(Kid swings bat)

A few things have apparently gotten better.

Anna: "The food's really good. They make a lot of good things."

The Reverend Kevin Witt is director of retreat ministries for The United Methodist Church. He's been doing camp for decades at places like Cedar Crest in Tennessee.

The goal is to get youngsters to step out of their comfort zones.

The Rev. Kevin Witt, United Methodist Church Camp Executive: "Children can get really centered in on a particular activity that they do and that becomes a routine. And I can forget my daily activities, and I can't remember what I did last Tuesday. But I can tell you what I did at camp four years ago."

Cassidy: "My favorite thing at camp has to be ... mostly everything."

Devon Penner, Camp Cedar Crest Counselor: "Nowadays, you experience God through text messaging, or Internet. I think it's important for kids to come out here in nature and experience what God created in a different way."

Today's camps appeal to a wide range of abilities and interests, like this performing arts camp at Wesley Woods in Wisconsin.

Daniel Smith is a recent graduate of Garrett Evangelical Seminary. After spending several summers as a counselor, Smith found his calling in camping.

Daniel Smith, Camp Cedar Crest Staff: "Kids go to church once a week for an hour. They come to camp and practically get a whole year's worth of Sunday school in one week."

(Leader at outdoor Bible study) "I need you to let my people go. Pharaoh didn't want to do it."

This is 13-year-old Marshall's third year at camp.

Marshall, 13-year-old Camper: "I keep coming back because the ways they teach about God. You don't find much opportunities to learn about God in this way."

The Rev. Kevin Witt: "This is one of the great doors that people can walk through that The United Methodist Church provides. We have lots of folks who come to these experiences who are not regular churchgoers and for some who are now persons of faith, that's their first encounter with the church."

Eli, 12-year-old Camper: "We sing about God every night. So it's a warming experience to be here."

(Song leader with guitar) "Oh, them lions they can eat my body but they can't, no, swallow my soul..."


The United Methodist Church operates 220 camp and retreat centers serving one million people year-round.

For more information on camp and retreat opportunities for all ages, visit the website.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Fran Walsh, 615-742-5458. The story was first published on July 28, 2010.