Camping Program Committee Annual Reports
The text of recently received Annual Reports are below, with the most recently received at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the year listed below.
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Committee members: Becca Bacon, Anna Best, Deidre Citro, Brooke Davis (August-January), JoAnn Coates Hunter, Jennifer Collins-Foley, Donald Crawford, Karen Daniel, Robert Finegar, Corinne Joseph, Elizabeth Kellett, Elizabeth Krome, Jacalyn Kosbob, Elizabeth Roush, Nikki Richards, Justin Sykes, and Julie Taylor, clerk
The Camping Program Committee (CPC) has had a very productive year. We welcomed Brian Massey as the new Camping Program Manager and are grateful for the energy he is giving to the camping program. We also welcomed Jared Wood as the new Opequon Director. He brings wonderful energy and light to this community.
This past year has brought changes to the camping program deemed necessary due to the COVID-19 virus. All of our committee meetings were held by Zoom.
The largest change to the camping program was the implementation of a sliding scale for camp fees. In lieu of Monthly Meetings providing scholarships to campers, CPC recommended Meetings donate their scholarship money directly to the camping program to support the full funding of the cost of running camps. This will be further reported in the Camping Program Manager’s Annual Report.
We proposed a change to the Manual of Procedure by adding Growing Diverse Leadership, Development, and STRIDE to the list of BYM committees for which the CPC clerk or a CPC member is a member.
Minutes of appreciation were written for Jesse Miller and Jane Megginson. Their years of service to our camping program are greatly appreciated.
We approved the BYM Camps Anti-Racist Statement:
Baltimore Yearly Meeting Camps are made up of campers and staff of many backgrounds, socio-economic levels, gender identities, sexual orientations, faiths, and racial and ethnic identities. We strive to create an inclusive community that holds all members in the Light as we work, play and enjoy time in nature together. We believe camp provides a unique opportunity for young people who might not otherwise meet to share a unique experience of joy, wonder, vulnerability, and empowerment together as they connect with each other. We acknowledge that BYM Camps have historically been white institutions and that outdoor education and recreation spaces have a history of inequality and underrepresentation.
We endeavor to become a more inclusive and equitable organization in which we amplify the voices of people of color among us and help to actively confront racial bias within ourselves and our community. Some of the things we have done to work towards these goals include continuing education, responding to feedback from our camp families and seeking to include more campers of color in our programs. For more than 10 years we have partnered with STRIDE to sponsor campers of color and challenged socio-economic status. In this same time period, Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity training has been part of pre-camp activities for counselors and staff in order to help work toward these goals. We acknowledge that these steps are only a beginning and that there is more that BYM camps can do to become an anti-racist organization.
We recognize that we are an organization that is predominantly white, and therefore we need to work harder to reach our goal of being inclusive, open, accepting, and inviting to campers, staff, and volunteers of all backgrounds. We wish to disrupt and challenge the notion that it is acceptable for outdoor recreation to be a space of white privilege. We also recognize that our camps each reside within specific geographical communities and that we can take action within those towns and districts to work towards true equity and justice in those broader environments in which BYM Camps are located. We are dedicating time to review our practices and to improve our programming, and we welcome dialog and feedback as we continue to grow.
We formed a Sub-committee on Anti-Racist Work, in response to Jesse Miller’s letter. The purpose of this subcommittee is to work with our community, both within camp and within the larger BYM community, to address the racism present within our organization. Specifically, their tasks will include: making sure anti-racism training happens every year for counselors, staff, work granters, caretakers, and at some level for all campers. The Sub-committee plans to look at BYM policies that are in place and identify whether they align with our antiracist goals. Their intent is to prevent problems from happening, train people to properly address problems when they arise, and report on the resolution of problems and incorporate the lessons learned into revised protocols. We plan to use a portion of our budget to support antiracist projects identified by the camp staff.
We look forward with joyful anticipation to the reopening of camps this summer and welcoming many new families to our camping program.
As we prepare our annual report in this highly unusual year, very few of the typical things are happening. We would usually be talking about how everyone is busily preparing for the start of the summer camp season, staff having been hired, trained, and excited to welcome campers, how we had participated in a series of Spring Family Camp Weekends to get properties ready, and that nature has continued to bless us with the gifts that unfold between spring and summer. Thankfully, that last is still true! Our past year has been marked most strongly by many of the things we have had to give up and how we are challenged to continue the spirit of camp when we cannot physically meet. Many of us are more appreciative than ever that nature’s gifts still abound, even during this time of great societal unrest due to the global pandemic. Because of the concerns surrounding COVID-19, the committee discerned the need to suspend our program for the season, with much sadness and awareness of the challenges this will cause for our campers and their families, our staff, and the Yearly Meeting as a whole.
Another huge theme this year has been our work to become anti-racists. Last summer several of our staff and campers experienced overt racism during their time at camp. Although we endeavor to create an inclusive, loving community at all of our camps, we became aware that we are not able to shield our campers and staff from discrimination they encounter on the trails or in stores when camp is in session. We also became more aware of the racism that some in our community experience among Friends, even if through ignorance. The anti-racism statement and queries adopted by BYM became a regular part of our meetings after they were presented to us in November at Interim Meeting, but we had begun our study of these issues as a committee after Sunshine Klein suggested that we all read two books about racism in September. Our March meeting with the directors further explored the role of racism at camp with a set of queries they brought to the committee and a discussion that dug deeply into this issue. In June, the protests in our communities after the death of George Floyd brought to light more broadly the racial tension in the United States, that we as a committee and a Yearly Meeting had already been struggling to understand. Although we have started this work and are committed to continuing, there is still an enormous amount yet to be done to understand how we are a part of a racist society and what we are called to do to remake these systems individually, as a program, as part of the Society of Friends, and society at large.
Part of our typical committee work is to meet about 10 times a year as a whole committee, by phone, through zoom, or in person meetings. We also participate in subcommittee meetings as needed to work on camper recruitment, the budget and alumni events. This year we had no alumni events, but put a good deal of energy into hosting open houses and piloting a new referral software to help increase our enrollment at all four camps. We also put some energy into finding a new Director for Opequon Quaker Camp when we received the news that Sean Hickey would not be returning. That process ended up with a shuffling of current directors, with Jesse Miller taking over as the new Director of Opequon, moving from his recent years of co-directing and directing at Catoctin Quaker Camp while Dyresha Harris will now be the solo Director of Catoctin. Each fall we review feedback from campers and camp families in order to adapt our program to meet the needs of our community and to provide the flexibility families want. This year we explored the idea of gender inclusive cabins, mileage limits for older hikers, and allowing unit one campers at Catoctin to attend a two week session without the long trip. It is our goal to provide a fun experience for all campers, as they live in nature in a Quaker community that challenges them to stretch and grow.
With camp closed this summer, there are some serious financial and spiritual impacts. We had to return camper fees already collected, and both Jane and David were partially furloughed. Jane worked very hard to refund all of the camper payments and in an amazing show of support for our program, families donated $84,419 of the fees back to camp. Many of these are first time donors, which is a remarkable feat for development in this economic environment. Our campers, staff, volunteers, and families all grieve the loss of a summer spent together in community, enjoying nature. The directors and seasonal staff at all the camps were let go, yet many still organized zoom staff meetings to allow a space for processing the loss of camp for any campers or staff who wanted to participate. TA is hosting a weekly zoom meeting for worship throughout the summer. Catoctin is being operated as a campground in July and August so that families can still experience camp in some way and we can defer some of the financial impact of not hosting our full camping program this summer. Our committee hopes to find other ways to give a sense of camp through virtual platforms throughout the summer. It has been a highly unusual year for CPC, but we expect to emerge with a renewed sense of purpose after the pandemic passes. We have high hopes for reopening camp in the summer of 2021.
As we prepare our annual report, the series of Spring Family Camps has just ended and we are gearing up for the beginning of the summer camp season. The trees have leafed out, birds, bees and insects have begun their spring routines, and the sounds of children and adults echo through the woods. Our ponds and streams are brimming with life, providing entertainment and discovery for the curious. And our firecircles once again ring with the sounds of song, silent worship, and spoken ministry. Our Baltimore Yearly Meeting camps provide an opportunity to experience community, recreation, meaningful service, and worshipful appreciation of God’s creation. In the context of the community that we create at camp, we teach and try to live up to our Quaker Testimonies.
The work of the Camping Program Committee (CPC) falls into five areas: policy decision making for the summer camping program, collaborating with the Camp Property Management Committee to run the Spring and Fall Family Camps, creating and maintaining camp alumni networks, recruitment of campers, and supporting the work of the Camp Program Manager. We meet 9 or 10 times a year to accomplish these tasks. Twice a year we meet with the directors of our four camps, and we have liaisons with a number of BYM committees.
Last September we held a 40/20 year alumni reunion at Opequon Quaker Camp, welcoming Friends from both the “old” Opequon (1970s era in the floodplain) and the current era (on the hill, “arts” emphasis). Over sixty alumni attended the weekend. The highlights of the weekend were the evening firecircles with singing and worship-sharing. A unique event was the planting of a Peace Pole in memory of a deceased alumnus. We are planning to hold a reunion at each of the residential camps every five years, and work to build and maintain our alumni networks in between these reunions.
We are happy to report that our search for a new director for Opequon Quaker Camp resulted in the hiring of Sean Hickey. Sean is a BYM camps alumnus and staff member, having grown up in Frederick Friends Meeting. Friends can look forward to meeting and greeting Sean during Annual Session this summer. While preparing to hire a new director, the CPC took the opportunity to update the job description for camp directors. We also decided to revise the annual evaluation instrument used by the Camp Program Manager with our camp directors, and will be testing out a new format after the 2019 camping season.
As part of our policy making responsibilities, the CPC made one addition to the staff handbook concerning staff children at camp. We also revised/clarified our policy concerning tobacco use and “vaping”. The committee is also responsible for the camper handbook, and we clarified some parent concerns about how we handle challenging behaviors at camp. In March of 2018, the directors participated in a training and discussion about techniques for approaching various behavior challenges at camp.
Our camper recruitment efforts include holding events in several locations, helping Monthly Meetings encourage their young Friends to come to camp, and contacting families who are referred to us. This is an area where we can always use more help. Several BYM Monthly Meetings routinely send their young people to camp. We are happy to go to other Meetings who would like to hold events to learn about our camps. Please contact our committee clerk or Jane Megginson, the Camp Program Manager.
The committee spent a lot of time discussing the STRIDE program and how we can best support it. We feel this is an important program of the Yearly Meeting, which requires a lot of time and energy. After participating in many meetings and discussions, we are happy that the STRIDE program will be directed and supported by the Growing Diverse Leadership Committee. Of course, the CPC will continue to collaborate with this project, as it is part of our overall efforts to be more inclusive at the camps. We look forward to working with the new STRIDE coordinator.
The challenges of operating Opequon Quaker Camp on the Pigeon farm in Brucetown, VA continue. This spring we learned that the swimming pool will no longer be operational due to old age, and therefore not available for camper use. Flooding concerns continue as the wet spring weather raised the water level of the local stream. We expanded our property search committee to include a representative from Trustees and the Stewardship and Finance Committee. A way forward has not been made clear, yet, but we are doing our research, evaluating our needs, and examining possibilities within the BYM area.
The CPC takes seriously its responsibility to evaluate our programs and look for ways to improve them and make adjustments to meet the needs of our camp families. We try to make sense of the ebbs and flows of camper enrollment. Most importantly, we reaffirm our commitment to our Quaker values by making our camps more diverse and inclusive, earth-friendly, “unplugged”, and loving communities. Campers, staff, and parents tell us that their lives are enriched by the BYM camp experience. It is the work of the “Fire at the Center”, The Inner Light, God Within. That is why we remain so dedicated to the work of the BYM
As we write this report counselors and staff are preparing our camps for another summer of fun, community building, and spiritual growth. The energy level of the young adults who will be leading our children is high and spirited. The difficult winter work of our directors to hire qualified staff who have the necessary skills and who will commit to working in a team environment is over. Now is the time when they bring their team together for training and opening camps, and begin to create the magic that is Baltimore Yearly Meeting Camps.
The BYM Camping Program Committee has been working hard, as well. We meet 10 times a year to evaluate our program, set goals, make policy decisions, and discuss trends in the camping industry which may affect our camps. Primary themes of our work this year have included camper recruitment, expanding alumni engagement, discernment on policy updates related to safety, inclusion, and social media, and long-range planning, among other things.
The CPC Alumni subcommittee organized a very successful 60th anniversary reunion at Catoctin Quaker Camp last September in conjunction with an ad hoc group of camp alumni. We had great attendance with representation from all decades of camp. We hope to repeat this great success this coming September 28th through 30th with a reunion for Opequon Quaker Camp alumni -- both alumni from the pre-Shiloh era and current era of Opequon.
CPC is keenly aware of our responsibility to help with BYM Development activities. Most of our committee meetings include a check-in with Ann Venable, our Development Director. We have pitched in with Development efforts where possible by making calls and striving to find ways to promote BYM and our development efforts, including asking for and receiving donations from alumni at the CQC reunion.
A very successful aspect of our work is our joint venture with the Camp Property Management Committee: Family Camp Weekends. These weekends serve as an opportunity to do service projects at the camps and/or participate in camp activities. It is also a chance for families who are new to camp to visit and see what the property and our programming is like. Although weather often impacts attendance, spirits are always high, the food always good, and the Friendship strong.
Last year we brought to Annual Session our concern about the future site of Opequon Quaker Camp. The question became even more concrete this spring when the group assembled for Family Camp was stranded at camp for an extra night because flood waters blocked the road in and out of Opequon. We continue to seek a way forward on this issue.
This spring Interim Meeting approved revisions to the BYM Youth Safety Policy. CPC participated in those discussions to bring our policy in line with best practices.
The discussion about how to continue the work of the BYM Outreach Inclusion Coordinator has been a challenge for all of us who have participated. This work, funded by a Shoemaker Foundation Grant, has included the establishment of our STRIDE program in Baltimore, Washington, DC, and Charlottesville. (A group has existed in Philadelphia for a number of years.) These groups of young adults establish relationships with local community groups and send campers to our camps. The STRIDE program has had a successful year, and their report will detail those efforts. However, the ad hoc group discussing the future of this program is working for clarity on what the relationship of the STRIDE program should be to the CPC. Should this program come under the oversight of CPC, it will be a major programmatic addition to the work of our committee. We hope to have a resolution by annual session in August.
Our camping program remains strong and vibrant, though our enrollment ebbs and flows. What does not ebb and flow is the powerful spirit of God that guides the work of our camps. Many of our campers and staff identify their camp as their ”spiritual home.” Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s commitment to this program speaks loudly of our commitment to “Let Our Lives Speak” by ministering to the participants of all ages of BYM Camps.
The work of the Camping Program Committee this year has encompassed both broad, long-range themes and hands-on activities. We followed up the BYM Staff Handbook by creating and approving job descriptions for camp counselors. Also, as mandated by the Youth Safety Policy, CPC reviews it each year, and this year we have proposed some changes.
We also created and approved Emergency Action Plans, which outline the procedures for responding to any number of emergencies at camp – emergencies that all of our procedures and training are designed to prevent.
Another program-wide initiative is maintaining good relationships with National and State Parks and Forests and ensuring that our trips comply with their guidelines, specifically new guidelines for protection of native species that affect some of the campsites we use frequently.
A major item in the long-range category is planning for a secure future for Opequon Quaker Camp. The need to improve facilities at our current location if the camp is to remain there is complicated by our leasing, not owning the property. CPC has authorized a sub-committee to visit potential options for a new OQC site as they come on the market, and that group has visited two sites. However, both the subcommittee and CPC as a whole feel that we must await more feedback from the camp community and BYM Friends generally before we move forward. You can find more details in the document entitled “Camping Program Seeks Discernment.”
More hands-on activities of CPC members have included two annual rounds of phone calls. In the fall members make calls to follow up on responses to the evaluations submitted by campers and their families, allowing us to explore any concerns they raise. In the spring, we call each family enrolling in camp for the first time, to welcome them and give them a chance to ask questions.
We have also facilitated other gatherings at our camps. We organized a 25th anniversary reunion at Shiloh Quaker Camp in September, and we have been working over the winter and spring to organize a 60th anniversary reunion at Catoctin. In addition, we have stepped up our participation in the Family Camp Weekends, a joint project of CPC and Camp Property Maintenance Committee. These weekends, which continue to see increasing attendance, offer newly enrolling families a change to see the camps, allow returning camper families a chance to catch up, and create a workforce to maintain and improve our camp facilities.
STRIDE (Strengthening Transformative Relationships in Diverse Environments) groups in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and Charlottesville have been a force of positive change in our camps as we journey toward radical inclusion of our campers and staff of color. STRIDE members are largely Young Adult camp alumni, and their activities include fundraisers, community events, and practice hikes with incoming campers. We are eager to strengthen our connection with STRIDE groups.
Last but definitely not least, CPC wants to thank BYM Friends for your support in getting the bathhouse built at Catoctin. This tangible evidence of BYM’s care for its campers will endure for generations, and we are grateful for your support.
Sarah Williamson and Betsy Krome, Co-clerks
“Baltimore Yearly Meeting's camping programs provide opportunities for spending extended time living in functioning Quaker communities that encourage tenderness, loving concern, dynamic activity, laughter, respect, work, honesty, silence, and joyful noise.
Our goal is to foster the kind of self-esteem that facilitates spiritual growth. Opportunities for such growth are created by supporting campers through challenging experiences. Success in negotiating rapids or exploring artistic creativity offers a deeper strength from which to accept the challenge and risk of turning inward toward the Light. Typically, a camper goes home a more competent, confident person whose spiritual roots have deepened and whose ties to the broader Quaker community have strengthened.”
--from the BYM Camp Staff Handbook, 2016
The Camping Program Committee (CPC) oversees this program, which is perhaps the one Yearly Meeting ministry that touches the largest number of people – adults, young Friends, and youth. We minister to Friends and friends from a large geographical area that extends beyond the physical boundaries of Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Our camps are grounded in our Quaker values and testimonies: simplicity, peacemaking, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship. The Committee feels responsible for maintaining this ministry that was started in 1923, has continued in various forms, and has developed through the hard work and Guiding Light as discerned by several generations of Friends.
This year the camping program overall has continued to see two encouraging trends: increasing enrollment, and increasing diversity in campers and staff. This summer we had a record number of campers enrolled, topping 600 campers by the end of May, and over 125 adult work grant participants. The STRIDE Program (formerly the Camp Diversity Working Group) is bringing over 20 children to camp. For the first time, this program has campers at all four of our programs, Catoctin, Opequon, and Shiloh Quaker Camps and Teen Adventure. We have our first camp staff members who are former campers brought to camp through the diversity initiatives.
Our Camp Program Manager, Jane Megginson, continues to provide professional, Quaker leadership to our camping program. Her attention to detail, financial savvy, knowledge of camping “best practices,” and continuous monitoring of applicable state laws in Virginia and Maryland are some of the essential skills that help the CPC guide the camping program. She is responsible for both the bymcamps.org webpage and our registration and database program, both of which require a great deal of time and attention. She has encouraged the committee to conduct our outreach open houses earlier in the winter, in keeping with trends toward earlier registrations in camps nationwide.
Two new co-directors have joined our camp leadership: Rosie Eck at Teen Adventure and Jesse Miller at Catoctin. It’s worth noting that Rosie came up through the BYM camping program, and Jesse has worked on staff for a number of years. Also, Jesse’s hiring at Catoctin is a real-life example of our One Camp philosophy, as all his previous camp experience has been at Opequon. The retiring co-director of Teen Adventure, Jen Schneider, has our admiration, respect, affection, and enormous gratitude.
Each year we ask our camp families to complete a survey about their experiences with the camping program. These responses help the committee identify areas of strength and weakness. Out of these survey responses, the CPC has undertaken the task of calling all the registered families who are new to camp each summer. This entails calls to over one hundred families, but it is pleasant work, as families appreciate the contact even if they do not have questions.
We have united with Camping Property Management Committee to sponsor our Family Camp Weekends and make them exciting times for community-building as well as more physical building, painting, etc. Six times a year, these weekends are an opportunity for BYM families to enjoy our camp properties, engage in planned activities, and perform work projects. All ages of Friends are invited to join us for fun, fellowship, work and worship.
Membership on the Camping Program Committee itself has included an unusual number of people with long experience in the camping program, and simultaneously has added some 20-something members with fresh outlooks. The combination has made a very productive committee. Among the most important achievements of CPC this past year has been producing a finished Camp Staff Handbook – a project that was first tackled at least 13 years ago but that had never seen completion. The completed handbook is in use this summer, and we expect to consider feedback from our summer staff as part of our fall agenda. The committee has a vigorous work schedule, meeting monthly nine times a year, with three or four sub-committees, as well as sponsoring the Camp Diversity Working Group (now the STRIDE Program). Our committee membership sometimes struggles to fulfill all of the tasks and obligations that are on our agendas. Friends eager to be actively involved, with time to volunteer both from home and at our camps, are asked to contact the Yearly Meeting Nominating Committee to discern if they would be a good match for the work of our committee.
The ministry that is our camping program is both a responsibility and an honor, as we work to put our faith into practice in community each day.
Betsy Krome (Williamsburg) and Harry Scott (York), co-clerks
As we write this report, we received the following email:
To all people involved in TA: [Teen Adventure]
Thank you so much for organizing this wonderful program.
My son Jesse came back happy, inspired, filled with stories to tell.
He is singing, remembering, and missing kids and counselors.
He became noticeably stronger, has more endurance.
I believe trips like this make these kids to become better people.
Messages like this are what inspire our committee and staff to do the hard work it takes to maintain our camping program and properties.
The Camping Program Committee (CPC) met nine times this year. Four of our meetings were conference calls and five meetings were in- person. Two in person meetings included the camp directors.
We are happy to report that our camps remain healthy, happy places that foster personal and spiritual growth. While there are many challenges to running an outdoor religious education program, the committee has every confidence in our staff and volunteers to provide a safe, nurturing environment for our youth. The communities we create at our four camps are made up of youth 9-17 years old, counselors and directors 18-30+ years old, and adult volunteers and work grant participants. Our work grant program is particularly unique because it allows an adult to work at one of our camps and receive credit toward their camper’s fees. We also have work grant adults who contribute their “credit” to our scholarship program. It is not unusual to find retired folks working for a week just so they can be part of a vibrant Quaker community. BYM Camps are special places because we intentionally create them to be loving, diverse places. We are as diverse as the world around us: age, race, sexuality, nationality, gender identity, and cultural background, etc.
Much of the work of our committee is setting camp policy and supporting the operation of the camps. We set the budgets for the camps. We work with the Camp Property Management Committee to set priorities for the physical needs of our camps. We are also working on strengthening our camp alumni program. CPC exchanges liaisons with the Camp Property Management Committee, the Development Committee and Stewardship and Finance. The Working Group on Diversity also reports to us and joins our discussions when they can. Our clerks represent us on the Youth Safety Policy Working Group and the BYM Finance Group.
In February, we met with the Camp Property Management Committee. An update was given on camp properties and development plans. We also discussed budget issues and heard an update on the Capital Campaign from Ann Venable, BYM Development Director. The idea of the Family Camp Weekends was developed and acted on at this meeting. This spring David Hunter planned one weekend at each camp that included programing for all ages as well as service projects to help accomplish maintenance tasks. These were highly successful and will continue in the future.
Through the year, the Camping Program Committee has worked with Baltimore Yearly Meeting Trustees to develop a workable driving policy. The Camping Program Committee clerks and Camp Program Manager also participated in the conference calls of the Baltimore Yearly Youth Safety Policy Working Group. We continue to work together to create a workable policy that maintains youth safety. The operation of the camping program is different in a number of ways from the operation of other BYM programs, which creates challenges in creating and implementing policies in these areas.
Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator: In consultation with the CPC, the Working Group on Diversity applied for funding from the Shoemaker Fund for “Growing Diverse Leadership in BYM.” The receipt of this grant has led to the creation of The Outreach and Inclusion Coordinator, who will work with the BYM Camp Diversity Program. We hope this program will “increase diversity at camps, in local Meetings, and the Yearly Meeting,” The CPC worked with the Supervisory Committee, the Development Committee, the Development director and the BYM Clerks to create a job description for this position.
Surveys: Each fall (post camp), the CPC committee reviews family surveys. A subcommittee calls families that have expressed concerns or recommendations on the surveys. A theme that emerged was confusion and complaints about work grants, kitchen work, etc. Another theme this past fall was that new parents are sometimes confused by the equipment list, expectations on check-in day, and registration. Each of these items where discussed and the committee organized action steps. Each year, we also review possible changes to the survey language for next year to create more clarity. The committee considers these surveys important feedback, and sees them as helpful in improving our program.
Catoctin Quaker Camp Directorship: This spring one of our co-Directors, Kathryn Gilbert, resigned due to an employment opportunity. There was been a search through the spring for a new co-Director without success. Kathryn was able to continue to work through the pre-camp and first session of the summer, but has now had to leave for her full-time work. We are grateful for her years of work with the BYM Camping program and wish her well. Fortunately, through the work of our Camping Program Manager, Jane Megginson, and Director Dyresha Harris, camp staff and counselors, the summer has been successful.
Areas that the committee needs to work on: This year our camper recruitment was close to last year’s numbers but we had difficulty filling slots for different sessions at different camps. The Outreach subcommittee will focus on organizing more open houses and increase outreach to meetings. Counselor recruitment continues to be a concern because many young adults are having to find higher paid summer work or engage in summer internships for future careers. The committee will try to help directors with counselor retention and recruitment. Another area is engaging camp alumni, on which we are working with the Development Director to improve.
The Firecircle is (the Camping Program’s annual newsletter) goes out to approximately 7,500 camp families and all BYM families. It is by far our largest outreach mailing. Look for it this fall for highlights of this summer’s camping season, and encourage Friends, friends, and neighbors to check out our camping program. Our website provides a lot of pictures and information about each of our camps: www.bymcamps.org.
Camp Program Manager: This report would not be complete without mentioning the hard work and dedication of our Camp Program Manager Jane Megginson. Jane’s knowledge of best practices in contemporary camp programs, state laws in 4 states, and Quaker practice help us to run our program in a professional manner that is consistent with Quaker values. Along with Jane, the camping program is supported by the entire BYM office staff. From managing our budget to sending out publications and mass emails, to managing and raising the funds for camp properties and operation, these Friends are an integral part of our camp team. This program is successful because the entire BYM community embraces it on different levels. It takes all of us working together to make our camps wonderful growing places.
Baltimore Yearly Meeting has been running summer camps for almost a century. From the shores of the Chesapeake Bay to the Appalachian Mountains, we have provided young people and adults, alike, the opportunity to grow physically and spiritually in the natural beauties of this earth. In the Quaker tradition, BYM camps are simple places: rustic cabins nestled in the embracing arms of the forest around them. Relying on human ingenuity and interaction for enjoyment, these camps are a respite from the world whirling around us. In the warm glow of welcoming, nurturing Friends, we find strength and support. Fostering the Light within us all, our camp communities bring strength and comfort to us all, and help prepare us to go forth in the world.
Gary Gillespie (Homewood) and Harry “Scotty” Scott (York), Co-clerks
The Camping Program Committee (CPC) meets 9 times a year. Three meetings are conference calls and six meeting are in- person with 2 that include camp directors. In September and October we reviewed and responded to evaluations from 2013. In January, we met with the Development Committee, Property Committee and Trustees at Langley Hill Meeting. In March, we worked on our vision statement. Our meetings are well attended with an average of 9 members attending each meeting. The committee is knowledgeable, focused, hardworking and fun. The Camping Program Committee has 5 subcommittees that include: Budget, Outreach, Development, Alumni and Diversity. The Budget sub-committee wrote the 2015 budget that was approved by the Camping Program Committee.
Camp enrollment had another good year. At this moment, we are meeting the record breaking year we achieved last year and continue to work to keep enrollment levels high. The Outreach sub-committee organized 2 events. There was an Open House in Silver Spring on a March 8 and the Committee organized an Open House at Bend Yoga on the downtown mall in Charlottesville. The yoga studio offered a free yoga class to youngsters attending and did not charge us for the use of the space. A new camp promotional brochure was completed. This brochure included all the residential camps together in one brochure for the first time. A new idea from the Camp Program Manager was the creation of promotional items with the logo Quaker Camp Changed My Life; a campaign with current and former campers to get them to “Like” us on Facebook, with promo items as the reward – fridge magnets, hats, and water bottles. This campaign emphasized our one-program theme as the new brochure does. The Committee liked this idea and observed that the items could be sold at Annual Session as well.
The CPC approved a new job description and recommended an increase in salary for the Camp Program Manager, Jane Megginson. The process of creating the new job description included input from the Committee Clerks, General Secretary and Supervisory Committee. The new job description better reflects what the Camp Program Manager does as well as describes the responsibilities more systematically. Some additions include emergency support for camp directors and website responsibilities. Committee members expressed special appreciation for Jane’s risk management and response to emergency situations.
The Camping Program Committee supported the search and hiring of a new Co-Director for Opequon. Elaine Brigham, Director of Opequon, requested the support of a co-director since she is taking on a full time job. The Committee supported Elaine’s requested and approved hiring a co-Director. Following BYM’s hiring process, the hiring committee consists of a representative from Supervisory, the General Secretary, the Camping Program Manager, and a representative from Camping Program Committee. Sara Brigham was selected as the new Co-Director of Opeguon Quaker Camp. Sara was a camper and has been on the staff at Opequon for many years.
Diversity Subcommittee works to diversify BYM Camps. They raise funds and recruit campers. This year, Bama Works awarded more funding support campers at Shiloh. Alison Duncan, of the Diversity sub-committee, also worked on a large grant application that would fund a dream of a part or full-time position to help with outreach, work weekend, recruitment, preparation of campers, and alumni development. A working draft was created and a job description was sent to the Supervisory Committee. Additional funds were raised for the kids sponsored from Philadelphia, both from grants and fundraising events.
The Alumni Sub-committee is planning a new event for camp alumni at Shiloh this fall, in addition to the Catoctin event that has been happening for several years now.
The Camping Program Committee has met nearly every month this year either in person or by telephone conference call. We began our committee work with an all-day meeting at Annual Session, during which we were able to deeply listen to the camp directors’ reports of the camping season thus far. The Committee, in conjunction with the Development Committee, made a personal appeal during Annual Session for camp scholarship contributions. We raised over $3,000! It was important for all of us to be reminded that the majority of our camp directors were past recipients of camp scholarship funds; clearly those funds played a significant role in our current camp operations!
The Committee maintains three subcommittees – Outreach, Alumni and Budget. The Budget Subcommittee provided assistance to the Camp Program Manager, Jane Megginson, to review and make recommendations, but Jane plays the most active role in putting an extremely complex budget together.
The Development Subcommittee met with the Development Director to discuss the Camping Program Committee’s priorities for fund raising. Out of this meeting, the Development Director requested assistance in reviewing potential grants, which a committee member was able to provide.
The Outreach Subcommittee remained active in marketing our camps. Our print advertising materials were reviewed and adjustments were made. We ran minimal, targeted advertising in several paid as well as no-cost sources. The Subcommittee also successfully arranged three in-person outreach events! Members of the committee and camp staff went to Frederick, Takoma Park, and Baltimore to meet potential campers and their families. Each event had a host family who provided light refreshments and issued invitations to individuals in the community. Our experience last year and this suggests that these face-to-face outreach events are our most effective recruiting tool.
Committee agenda topics included feedback to Camp Property Committee for improvements to the facilities, reviewing adequate staff compensation, increasing enrollment, surveying past campers and their families, and following up with survey responses.
The Committee was also invited to a presentation from Pieter Bohen, the Executive Director of Farm and Wilderness Camps, The presentation was arranged by the ad hoc Vision Implementation Committee. Interesting discussions were sparked by the presentation and the Committee looks forward to working more with Vision Implementation in the near future.
During our last in-person meeting before the beginning of the camp season, we dedicated some time to beginning a strategic planning process for the camps. The intention of the Committee is to continue this work in the upcoming year.
Our camp community is vibrant. The Committee recently shared its joy at our current record enrollment. Currently we have 600 campers enrolled in our program, our highest number ever! In addition, we saw record low turnover among the staff at Shiloh and we speculate that this is due, at least in part, to the quality-of-life improvement facilitated by the pond. Our committee is functioning well and we remain excited to engage in the visioning process. Clearly the bright future of the camps is cause for joy.
The Camping Program Committee began its year with a day-long meeting at Catoctin Quaker Camp in conjunction with the annual camp alumni gathering, which has been held there for several years. This first meeting offered the opportunity for members to see the camp, get acquainted and re-acquainted, form subcommittees, and to set priorities and identify tasks for the year. What follows are highlights of some of the work this year:
Open Houses: The outreach subcommittee, in conjunction with local camp families, held two open houses to spread the word about Shiloh and Opequon and to attract/enroll new campers. Committee members and current camp families, acting as hosts, coordinated space and food for the events, which were held in Baltimore and Takoma Park. Camping program committee members, along with current parents, campers, camp staff, and directors attended the events. Slide shows of photographs depicting the camp experience were playing on laptop computers, and immediate online registration was available as well. Both open houses were well attended and favorably received. The events yielded several new campers. We believe this open house model to be an ideal outreach approach and we intend to hold them in other locations in the coming year. Several aspects of these events were noteworthy: 1. Open houses were held at “neutral” (non Quaker/non-religious) locations (hair salon and community center), which seemed to attract different/new families outside our established networks. 2. Camp families who hosted spread the word through their own personal and professional networks. In the case of the Baltimore event, the host was a local salon owner who invited her client contacts to come learn more about camp. 3. Having a variety of perspectives represented (camp staff, current campers, camp director, CPC members) was extremely helpful.
Pond at Shiloh/20th Anniversary: In June we celebrated the official completion and opening of the new pond at Shiloh. This event coincided with the 20th anniversary of Shiloh’s opening. Many former campers, staff, and other supporters—both financial and spiritual—attended the event, which was a great success. The event included a pot-luck lunch, brief words from staff, committee members and others, a tree planting, and lots and lots of swimming! The day concluded with singing and a firecircle. Later in the evening some new residents—frogs living around the pond—added their voices to the celebration. Throughout the summer, we heard from the camp director, parents, campers and others about how positively the new pond has impacted the programming and comfort at Shiloh. We continue to be grateful for the efforts of so many for making this critical addition to the camp property and program a reality.
Director Transitions: This year we bid farewell to Linda Garrettson who retired from her directorship at Catoctin after 22 years of working in the camping program. A surprise party at Catoctin, with many in attendance, and a minute of appreciation were two highlights from a year filled with gratitude for Linda’s incredible commitment and contribution to the program.
Minute of Appreciation for Linda Garrettson on the occasion of her retirement as Director of Catoctin Quaker Camp – 3 August 2011
If Linda Garretson had done nothing else in her life (and she's done plenty), her 22 years of service at Catoctin Quaker Camp would be a remarkable and worthy accomplishment to celebrate. It's not an exaggeration; it's a fact: an entire generation of campers and staff at Catoctin has been mentored and nurtured through her vast experience, her centered leadership, her joyful energy and enthusiasm, and her grounded spiritual direction.
Today we celebrate Linda's honesty, her wisdom, her sense of humor, her infectious love of singing, and her unwavering commitment to making camp a life-changing and life-giving experience.
It's easy to picture Linda in the middle of the dining hall, all eyes on her, or leading a rowdy song, all voices lifted up, but in the quieter times, she has also made difficult decisions with integrity and supported her sister camp directors whole-heartedly. She has worked hard to balance the work of camp, teaching, and family. She has stood in the center of the fire circle, grounding a worship sharing, and she has mentored innumerable young people who trusted her judgment and her leadership. Linda's practical and radically simple example of a Spirit-led life has inspired more people than she will ever know.
Thank you for the Light you let shine and for truly living with the fire at the center. We love you, Linda, and with overflowing hearts and deep gratitude we wish you a future filled with every blessing of the Spirit.
After a search process in the fall and winter, Dyresha Harris and Kathrin Gilbert, both long-time campers and staff members at Catoctin, were hired to direct the camp. They had a successful first summer and we look forward to nurturing their continued leadership. Also this year we said farewell and thank you to Riley Lark, co-director of Shiloh. In 2012 Hope Swank, co-director in 2011, will continue as director of Shiloh.
TA Bike: TA Bike, the newest programmatic addition for teenagers aged 15-18, completed its second successful summer. The program was slightly smaller this year. Feedback from those who attended has been overwhelmingly positive again this year and we look forward to continuing to offer the program, both to expand capacity for this age group and to offer a different kind of camp experience.
Evaluations: Each year we solicit feedback from parents, campers, work grantees, and staff, about their experience at camp. We received 238 responses after the summer of 2011 and spent the year processing and integrating this feedback. Two noteworthy changes based on this feedback were continued improvements to the bathhouses at Opequon and Catoctin in an attempt to brighten and dry them, and a new approach to communicating goings-on at camp to parents and families during the camp session. These evaluations are so valuable for helping raise important issues and identify trends. We will continue this practice again this year.
Other Items: We held a joint meeting in January with the Camp Property Management Committee to discuss shared concerns and plan together. We appreciate their work and our positive working relationship. Ongoing coordination with the Development Committee this year included assisting with drafting a new grant application to the Bama Works Fund (who previously awarded BYM a grant to help support the pond construction) and other written materials. We are grateful to the development committee for their work supporting the pond project. We look forward to continuing to strengthen this relationship.
We continue to benefit from the Camp Program Secretary’s training, expertise, and experience as manager and chief nurturer of our large, complicated, and life-changing program.
Respectfully Submitted, Josh Riley and Betsy Krome,
Co-Clerks of the CPC, September 2012
The Camping Program Committee met six times and held two additional meetings by conference call. We continued our work on behalf of the Yearly Meeting to promote our camping program and support our staff and directors guided by our co-clerks and the Camp Program Secretary.
In September we met at Opequon Quaker Camp, as it has become our practice to hold one of our meetings at a different camp each year. At Opequon, Frannie Taylor, representing BYM Trustees and our General Secretary joined us for a preliminary financial discussion on the 2011 program surplus, Shiloh Pond proposal, camp staff salaries and camp staff sabbaticals. We met in Richmond at Interim Meeting in October, in a joint meeting with the Camp Property Management Committee at Langley Hill Monthly Meeting in February, at Sandy Spring in March with Camp Directors and again in Sandy Spring in April.
In addition to our face to face meetings and phone calls, CPC committee members are encouraged to attend Family Service Weekends at the camps. The co-clerks, the Camp Program Secretary and our General Secretary have monthly conference calls and one of our members met with the Camp Finances Working Group and the Development Committee. We have also worked with the Nominating Committee; this past year we added four new members. The subcommittees for 2010-11 are Marketing, Teen Adventure (TA) Bike Trip 2011, Budget and Cookbook.
CPC has liaison assignments to the Camp Property Management Committee and the Development Committee. In 2011 we incorporated the Catoctin alumni organized Diversity Working Group into CPC and subsequently, we applied for a legacy grant from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting for diversity initiatives.
Shiloh Quaker Camp’s director Riley Lark, a former counselor and staff member, completed his second summer successfully. We hired Hope Swank, a former counselor at Shiloh, to be Riley’s co-director.
Camp Program Secretary, Jane Megginson, took a sabbatical in the fall of 2010. Wayne Finegar and other BYM staff members assisted the co-directors in holding down the fort until Jane returned from her time away.
We hired Tasha Walsh, from Maury River MM, a former CPC member, Shiloh cook and all around “camp person” as the TA Bike Trip director in the summer of 2011. We are excited about this new opportunity for our teens and appreciate all the hard work that has gone into creating this new teen adventure program.
The new Catoctin caretaker is Don Frame. His partner Annetta will live there also. He has camp experience in NJ, and is not a Quaker.
The camp directors hire seasonal program staff, often from the ranks of our own Teen Adventure Leadership Program (TALT). All three camps and the TA?TALT program experienced a higher than usual counselor and staff turn over in 2010.
Support for one week sessions continues with a modest increase in camp enrollment during those weeks. Our overall enrollment at Shiloh and Opequon are both lower than last year at this time. There is a shortage of boys enrolled at Opequon and fewer girls enrolled at Shiloh. Our Program Secretary recently identified 70 families whose children were assigned to under enrolled units and our committee and several of the Directors made recruitment calls. These calls were met with enthusiasm and hopefully a few more campers will sign up because of this outreach.
*Marketing and Outreach*
Getting TA Bike off to a good start and increasing enrollment at Opequon and Shiloh have been high priorities for the Marketing and Outreach subcommittee. We continue to use National Public Radio ads and Monthly Meeting contact by CPC members and camp alumni in our outreach. We display our information is displayed at Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Annual Session each year. Word of mouth advertising is the most successful part of our outreach. We also send out our brochures and have continued to host house parties.
The Camp Cookbook has been completed after more than two years and with the input of many. Copies will be printed for camp distribution and for Camp events and at Annual Session. First year distribution profits are designated for the Shiloh Pond fund and future profits will be used for camp scholarships.
A former co-clerk of CPC made a decorative quilt with our camp logo in the center for sale to benefit the Shiloh Pond fund.
Experimentally, we used a simplified online survey with open ended questions to give the Committee feedback about the operation of the camps. Comments about the performance of the Directors and counselors were positive, with few exceptions. The food served at camp and on the trail is rated from good to excellent, but some of the facilities at the camps continue to frustrate and repairs are appreciated. In 2011 we will probably create an evaluation took that is a hybrid of the past two years.
Kitchen managers and “pack out” trail food staff continue to provide wholesome foods below our budget amount. An effort is made to purchase food from local sources. Herbs and small amounts of produce are harvested from small kitchen gardens and herb beds at several of the camps. Our volunteer cooks prepare and serve meals family style in camp and the counselors and campers arrange for the often rowdy and joyous clean up of the dishes, kitchen and dining hall. Camp made bread, granola and wild berry desserts are the norm.
At Catoctin, the summer of 2010 went really smoothly despite having nine new counselors. New low flow toilets were a big hit. There were no medical heat related issues.
Shiloh experienced a moderate to high turn over of counselors and staff. Enrollment was at its highest since 2005. Spiritual groundedness is growing. The excessive heat and limited swimming options was more of an issue in 2010. The incidence of Lyme disease exposure was higher and thought to be due to increased presence in Shenandoah National Park.
Opequon Quaker Camp found that even with a lot of counselor/staff turnover, the summer was solid with incredible fire circles. Opequon had a gigantic graduation of 18 long time campers. Opequon would like to make a change in their program. Two two-week sessions will have only one longer trip, with a short trip in each of the one-week sessions, reducing the number of trips from 6 to 4. It would be a trial year. This change is reflective of the ongoing and productive evaluation that our Directors embrace.
The Teen adventure Programs also experienced a huge staff turn over. One 28 year old counselor new to our TA Camping Program said that his TA experience was transforming. Throughout the summer, there was a good feeling of Quaker community and spiritual engagement.
The Camp Program Secretary creates a multi year budget and with the Budget sub committee refines it, using conservative discernment and fiscal discipline, before presenting it to the entire committee for approval.
The committee agreed to adjust budget for modest camp staff raises.
A representative of the committee joined the Camp Finances Working Group to rationalize the financial/budgeting of our camps and create the report: Major Findings of the Camp Finance Working Group.