Alan Rogstad, Dave Burfeind, Bishop Grant J. Hagiya, Tyler Wagner, Darin Gemmer, and Brandon Scheer.

Mastery & Originality:
The Western Jurisdiction Camp Network Gathering

By Sarah Robinson

“Camping programs are critical for our success on the local church level.”
-Greater Northwest Area Bishop Grant J. Hagiya

After days of deluge, the clouds finally parted in the second week of March for the Western Jurisdictional Camp Network Gathering at Camp Magruder in Rockaway Beach, Ore. This biennial event (held on March 10 – March 13, 2014) was started up again for directors, leaders, and staff of Camps and Conferences in the Western Jurisdiction as a time to gather together, learn from each other, and look toward the future of Camp and Retreat Ministries in the United Methodist Church.

Executive Director of Camping & Retreat Ministries Alan Rogstad, Registrar Sarah Robinson, and Camping Board of Stewards member Peter Fraser helped kick off the event with some new and classic camp songs, while Board Chair Joyce O’Connor Magee led the group of about 70 in a moving devotional. Site Directors and representatives from all four of our Pacific Northwest camps were there to participate in the sharing of ideas, as well as some key Pacific Northwest Conference leaders. Kristina Gonzalez led a well-attended, insightful, and thoughtful workshop on diversity in outdoor ministries, while PNW Treasurer Brant Henshaw helped facilitate conversation about camp finances with Oregon-Idaho Director of Stewardship and Finance, Bill Mullette-Bauer.

Christy Dirren, former Camp Leader and Youth worker gave an innovative workshop as she detailed how she is bringing camp alumni and others together in new and novel ways in a New Faith Community in Portland. She led the group in looking at missional vs. attractional models of community. In the changing world of the church, she challenged camp leaders to look at how we can engage in year-round community-building, with camp as the jumping off point, and that camp leaders can encourage campers to live faith outside of camp. They can take it home and see God in their daily lives and live out their faith in many ways.

Bishop Grant Hagiya spoke mid-week about innovation, leadership, and how camps can assist local churches and thrive. “Camping programs are critical for our success on the local church level,” he stated. Like with churches, success requires risk-taking, entrepreneurialism, experimentation, and change agents, and the camps have to model this on their level. He spoke about the balance between mastery and originality, but also the importance of utilizing natural spaces to allow new ideas to form, such as when in the midst God’s creation. “All the time when you’ve been away is when you’ve had your most innovative ideas,” he said, gesturing to the sun-drenched lakeside.

A National Gathering for our camp leadership is scheduled at Epworth By the Sea in St. Simon’s Island, Ga. in 2015.

Sarah Robinson serves as camp registrar for Camping & Retreat Ministries in the PNWUMC.
For more information on the sacred sites of the PNWUMC, visit


  1. As one who was there in my role as a Camping Board of Stewards member, I agree that this event was an excellent opportunity to build out camping ministry. Bishop Grant was quite insightful in stating that we do some of our best creative work when we disengage from our normal settings for a time. I would add that making disciples is also greatly enhanced by camping and retreat ministry. We so often fail to recognize that Jesus did most of his teaching outside in nature, especially along the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee. Churches that focus primarily on disciple-making inside the walls of their buildings are missing an amazing resource. And don’t forget that our camps can enrich families and adults as well as children.

    Chuck Hindman

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