“Doors Opening to God’s Love in Action”–Eagle River Methodist Camp South East

Submitted by Bunti Reed, Board Member and Program Chair Eagle River Methodist Camp SE.

Kids + Adults + Eagle River Methodist Camp SE = God’s love in Action.              

Eagle River Camp Sign

Children and youth today live hectic lives. So many things–school, sports, television, smartphones, video games, and organized activities can crowd out the time for kids to be kids. Conversely, some children have to take a caretaker role in their families, or live in families affected by poverty and its myriad of ills- being a kid can be tough under those circumstances. 

In today’s world, where can kids hike in the woods; get muddy, swing on a rope swing, spend quality time with caring adults, hike down a deer trail, play outdoor games, or sit around a campfire, sing, talk about life, and learn about Jesus Christ? Here in Juneau, we have such a place.

Eagle River Methodist Camp SE has been an active part of our community for 60+ years. A place for learning, communing with nature and growing in faith, and fun. A rare jewel in today’s world. We share our camp facility with the community, a truly welcoming retreat.

Our outdoors, hands-on programs, and loving lessons encourage friendship, fun, challenge, positive faith, and a healthy lifestyle. We help develop the spirit, mind and body of our campers in supporting faith, caring, stewardship, and showing God’s love to others. Camp is a learning place for social skills, outdoor skills, spiritual development, and team participation. It is a place where being a Christian is also fun. For our program committee, the camp planning starts the year before, and much work goes into completing a quality program. All of our staff are volunteers-the counselors, cooks, medical staff, guests who come to educate, our camp dean, and everyone else that it takes to produce a camp that reaches the goals we have set for our camp experience. At each camp, the counselors, cooks, and camp staff are up at daylight and are the last ones to bed at night. It is exhausting but exhilarating. Each year we sponsor several youth camps.

Our annual faith-based “Discovery Camp” provides youth nearly a week of active interaction with counselors, spiritual teachers, and cabin mates without the distractions of the modern world. Under God’s roof, they learn new ideas, start on a journey of discovery, learn relationship skills, spiritual truths, make friends, and gain insights that will affect them all their lives. There are no paid employees, no “second shift.” At Discovery Camp, all are welcome, regardless of faith. (There is a cost to attend, but no one is ever turned away for inability to pay) 

Camp Champ is a secular camp that provides the summer camp experience to children who would not otherwise get to go. Kids attending might be homeless, have an incarcerated parent, be living in a shelter, experience poverty, disability, parental addiction, or other challenges. The Juneau School District, regional churches, and social service agencies partner with us to make it happen. 2020 will be our 15th “Camp Champ.” This free camp is by referral only. 

The camp serves Juneau, Southeast Alaska, and even beyond.  The public school and women’s shelter most commonly furnish the names of children at risk for our referral-only Camp Champ.  The school uses the camp for student “camp days”, to teach about our environment. We host annual Thanksgiving Day dinner sponsored by a United Church (Methodist/Presbyterian) congregation which is open to all.  Juneau recognizes our broad open door policy to the entire community and responds with help in various ways: Spring clean-up day which we call “Camp Get Ready” to the annual Fall Chop-A-Thon.  Logs are cut and split along with stacking them in the woodshed for year-around use in the big lodge fireplace. People come with chainsaws, log splitters, and willing hands. They leave with tired backs and gladdened hearts through enjoyable working fellowship. A man with a dump truck offers to haul rock for our pot-holed driveway, another brings his tractor to spread it.  We could not exist without the community.  In turn the Camp enriches the entire community. We seek to be a Christ-centered camp. We stand for inclusion. 

There are many opportunities to help. Time, money, supplies, and prayers all help us create this valuable ministry? Share your gifts and talents, your time and experience. You will help a child or teen see that God’s hands are yours, theirs, mine, and ours. 

Visit us on the web at www.methodistcamp.org