A strong camping ministry is an important component of the Great Plains Area's commitment to develop Christian spiritual leaders. This emphasis is one of the foundations for camping and retreat ministries. The others are to provide intentional places apart to encounter God, to extend genuine Christian hospitality and community, to nurture Christian faith and discipleship, to teach creation care and appreciation, to collaborate with United Methodist churches and agencies and to inspire and equip guests to do love and justice.
Details about our camps are found on our camps page.
Learn more about each of our camps:
Studies show that children and youth who attend church camp leave with increased self-confidence, more frequently take part in devotional practices, attend church more regularly, engage in faith conversations and practices at home, and understand a greater relevance of their faith.
The goal for each of our Great Plains camps is to create an environment in which young people can encounter the Holy Spirit and then to start building a strong relationship with Christ that will last a lifetime.
Read testimonials from former campers and their loved ones.
Read a summary of a study by the Effective Camp Research Project.
What to Bring to Camp
The list varies slightly from camp to camp, but here are some general guidelines for your packing purposes.
Medications: Should be brought to camp in their original container inside a zip-lock bag and clearly labeled with
your child’s name, and camp name. Parents, if your child has ever had asthma symptoms and has a prescribed inhaler, please be sure they bring it with them to camp as they are outside of their normal routine
Clothes: Please, use good judgment in choosing the clothing you bring to camp. Clothing should be appropriate for a Christian camp experience: Be sure to bring enough clothes for the number of days you will be at camp plus one to two extra.
- Pants, shorts, shirts — light colored are best to stay cool.
- Jeans for horseback riding and other activities.
- Swimsuit — Girls must have a one-piece or tankini style swimsuit; boys must have trunks
- Sweatshirt or light jacket
- Socks and underwear
- Rain jacket or pancho
Shoes: Be sure what you bring is appropriate for walking on gravel, activity time, and hiking rough trails.
- Closed-toe shoes — Athletic or trail/hiking
- Sandals – All sandals must have a back strap so they can be secured to the feet
- Flip flops — For shower and pool time only.
Bedding and Toiletries: (please write your name on items you bring to camp)
- Sleeping bag/or bedding for twin size bed.
- Towels and washcloths for showering.
- Beach towel for swimming.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Soap, shampoo and deodorant.
- Comb or hairbrush.
Other Important Items: (please write your name on items you bring to camp)
- Backpack to carry items you may need when you are away from your cabin.
- Water bottle.
- Bug repellent.
- Bible — We do have Bibles at camp you are welcome to borrow during your time there.
Do Not Bring: Cell phones and electronic devices, expensive clothing, jewelry, pocketknives, electronic games, food/candy etc. Camps will not assume responsibility for replacing/repairing items, charges incurred, for items we request that you not bring. Electronic devices do not fit into the curriculum or wilderness nature of camp, and can be a distraction to other campers, as well as keep your child from participating in camp activities with fellow campers.
Mail and Care Packages
Kids love to receive letters while at camp! Here are some guidelines for sending mail to your camper:
Letters and Care Packages
- Send lots of letters — Campers (and counselors, if your grown child is now on staff) love to receive mail, so remember that there's no such thing as too many camp letters! If you went to camp as a child and have kept your camp letters, share them with your camper before the summer to help him or her get excited about writing and receiving mail at camp.
- The early bird wins! — Send a letter a few days before camp begins. The mail can be slow, and this way you know your child will receive a letter within the first couple days of camp.
- Give an example — It's helpful to send kids, especially younger ones, to camp with an example of a correctly addressed envelope for reference, including their return address. You can also pre-stamp (and pre-address) envelopes if this helps your child. Include an address list in addition to any pre-addressed envelopes, as campers may want to write more letters than have been pre-addressed to a given recipient.
- It's the small things — Include small surprises in a letter: cut-outs from a newspaper or magazine, drawings or letters from a sibling (or a pet), and stickers are all great additions to the envelope.
- Do write about: Ask lots of questions about camp life. What activities has your camper tried? Which are his or her favorites? What is his or her favorite camp meal so far? Ask about bunkmates, chapel friends, siblings, and new pals. This invites them to write back to you with answers! It's also great to remind your campers that you can't wait to hear everything about camp, that you are proud of them, and that you hope they are learning new skills.
- DON'T write about — Be careful about mentioning what your camper is missing at home and try not to say "I miss you" too much. Send your love, not your anxiety! To minimize worry and homesickness, save mild bad news for when your camper comes home (for example, if the family pet isn't doing so well). If you have serious bad news to share, always call the camp director instead of including it in a letter.
- If you get a homesick letter — When responding to a letter from your homesick camper, empathize with how they're feeling but remind them of the good things they've already written home about and reiterate that you're proud of them for going to camp. It's also important to remember that letters are mostly written during down time, which is when homesickness can occur.
- Time flies — Remember that by the time you receive a negative letter, it is already a few days old, and your camper's issue likely has already been solved and forgotten about! If you are truly worried, call the camp office and ask the staff to check in with your camper's counselors.
- Short and sweet — Don't be offended if you receive a short letter from your camper. He or she is having too much fun to write. And remember, you'll hear non-stop talk about camp when the summer ends! If you're craving more information, ask open-ended questions that invite descriptive answers (see #4) to help give you a sense of what's happening in your child's life at camp.
- Putting the snail in "snail mail" — Camp mail is notoriously slow, no matter which summer camp your child attends. It's just one of the side effects of being in a remote and scenic place. If it's been a few days without a response and you're truly worried, you can call the camp office. Otherwise, assume that snail mail is on its way and rest easy. Your camper is having a great time!
- No time for “snail mail” — Feel free to email the camp directly, and your email will be printed and delivered to your camper during mail call. Check with the camp first to see if there is a specific camper email or if you can send it to the regular camp email address.