refreshedblog4The vision for Refreshed Family Camp is clear: Give every foster and adoptive family a “win” together.

Refreshed Family Camp is an experience where the love of Jesus is clear. Connect with God around the campfire or through a conversation with a friend. See God’s care in the epic sunsets overlooking Port Susan Bay. Learn about God’s heart through experiential-based teaching.

Play hard at camp. Swim, zip line, canoe, shoot arrows, compete in field games, or just take a hike on the miles of trails. There’s no shortage of activities to do. Bring your bike and ride to your heart’s content on the 278 acres of God’s creation at Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center.

Rest among friends. Every family at Refreshed Family Camp understands the uniqueness of foster and adoptive family dynamics. Find time to just kick back in a community of people who “get it.” We are all in this together! There is something incredibly encouraging by being with people who understand.

This summer’s theme is “Unshakeable Kingdom.” Allen Denver, Carrie Blaske, and I will be sharing from our own journey about the amazing things God is teaching us. We are all foster and adoptive parents who understand renewed hope under God, who is unshakable. We are excited to share with you!

If you are a foster or adoptive family, join us for Refreshed Family Camp, July 28-31, 2019.

As we pray and prepare, we are making the following promises to you:

  1. Jesus is being lifted up as Lord and Savior.
  2. Families will have opportunities to experience a “win” together.
  3. Recreation, rest, and renewal will be available to everyone.

We can’t wait to see you this year!

EdMcDowell Nov2018 80px webEd McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center

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child health benefits summer campResearch shows kids are healthier, learn better, and form lasting friendships when they spend an extended amount of time outside away from technology.

Study after study has shown when children are out in nature regularly they are more mentally and physically healthy1. The combination of physical activity and being outdoors is proven to be important to mental, physical, and environmental health. Nature is viewed by scientists and researchers as a fundamental health resource.

Being out in nature helps people recover from stress and anxiety much faster than suburban and urban settings2. Children are more stressed and anxious now than ever before. According to the CDC, the number of children diagnosed with anxiety, ages six to 17, has increased over the last decade3. Anxiety also increases with age4. The pre-teen years are especially vulnerable to this, as they are the years anxiety grows the most according to the CDC’s study.

There are many actions parents can take to counteract the massive influx of mental health issues which stem from a technology centered world. Perhaps the easiest and cheapest is simply allowing children to get out and into nature. Studies have indicated that a walk in the park can ease the mind and boost the concentration of a child with ADHD5.

Allowing children to go to summer camp is also a viable option to increase their mental health and unplug them from their electronic devices. Not only does summer camp provide physical exercise in a natural environment, but research has shown that summer camp can improve kids’ social and relational skills6. Summer camp connects children in person, not online, which helps them feel more comfortable with their identity.

The benefits of summer camp are supported by research and are applicable remedies to many of the mental and physical health issues of children today. Immersion in nature must continue after their week at camp. Children need continued exposure to the social, natural, and physical elements that the camp environment provides.

Kids thrive outside. The change to increased exposure to outdoor life can start safely at summer camp.

carl communication specialistCarl Kulper, Communications Specialist
Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center

________________________

1Pretty, J. (2004). How nature contributes to mental and physical health. Spirituality and Health International, 5(2), 68-78.
2Ulrich, R. S., Simons, R. F., Losito, B. D., Fiorito, E., Miles, M. A., & Zelson, M. (1991). Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments. Journal of environmental psychology, 11(3), 201-230.
3Data and Statistics on Children's Mental Health. (2019, April 19). Retrieved May 22, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html
4Ibid.
5Faber Taylor, A., & Kuo, F. E. (2009). Children with attention deficits concentrate better after walk in the park. Journal of attention disorders, 12(5), 402-409.
6Hanna, N. A., & Berndt, T. J. (1995). Relations between friendship, group acceptance, and evaluations of summer camp. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 15(4), 456-475.

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brad dad and meSome of the most important things in life cannot be bought, like time and love. If you want to measure the quality of life, measure the quality and depth of relationships. One of the most treasured relationships are between parents and kids. Both parents and kids desire transparent, loving relationships. In a world saturated with distractions, we are faced with bigger challenges than ever to maintain flourishing relationships. Somebody once said, “Love is spelled, time.”

Consider the following acronym for your parent kid relationships.

T–IME together on purpose!

If we truly desire healthy, loving relationships with our kids then we must have some quality time together.

This time can have many forms but the function is to share experiences and create lasting memories!

It should be flexible and fun. Simply be together and listen to each other. The Bible tells us “to make the most of our time” and when we invest our time in our kids we can experience some of the greatest joy in life!

I-NVEST in the desires of their heart. To do this we must know our kids’ hearts. Drop by drop, let your child know you believe in them. This is one of the most powerful things a parent can do especially if it is genuine and consistent. When a kid is supported with genuine belief from the parent, deeper relationships and character development can grow. Jesus describes love in 1st Corinthians 13 first with the adjective patient! Good relationships take time and lots of love, so be patient!

M-AKE sure you enjoy the simplest things together like: laughing, playing, singing, watching the beauty of creation, being grateful, sitting down for iced tea, going on spontaneous trips, writing silly cards and notes to each other, etc.

E-NTER each other’s world with Grace because healthy relationships are not all about us. When your kid says, “come here and try this” go and try it.

Entering into each other’s worlds can help our relationships grow. It says, “I heard you, I respect you, I love you enough to do this even though it may not be my favorite thing.”

The Lord has brilliantly put different personalities (our kids) in our lives to help us grow and be more understanding and forgiving.

Ephesians 5:15-16
“Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”

Shalom

bradBrad Hering
Speaker for 2019 Dad & Me Weekend

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summerstaffIn order to talk about the benefits of working at a summer camp, we must start by debunking some myths people believe about the job.

Myth #1: It’s not a “real” job.

Truth: Working at a summer camp is mentally and physically demanding. Camp counselors are no longer only responsible for the well-being of themselves, but the well-being of students ranging from 6 years old - 18 years old. Many summer staff work 16 hour days, six days a week, not to mention the middle of the night responsibilities. If this isn’t a real job, I am not sure what is.

Myth #2: It doesn’t add anything valuable to my resume.

Truth: Working at camp is a resume builder. The following, can often be added to a resume after working at summer camp:

  • Hard-working
  • Adaptable
  • Creative
  • Independent
  • Works well with a diverse group of people
  • Able to lead and follow and know when each are appropriate
  • Positive in the face of difficulty
  • Holds the attention of an antsy audience
  • Ability to think and problem solve “outside-the-box”
  • Guide other people through tough situations
  • Able to manage personal needs and the needs of others simultaneously

This is just a start, there are so many more things that could be added. Any employer who looks at these kills will be impressed. More than ever before, employers are valuing “camp counselor” on resumes.

Myth #3: I have to do an internship for school and camp won’t fulfill that requirement.

Truth: There are a wide range of opportunities available at camp. Many internships requiring management of staff, interpersonal relationships, supervision of groups, and curriculum/program planning, can be accommodated at camp. All you have to do is ask for what you need, and many camps and educational institution will support and help you fulfill your requirements.

Myth #4: I won’t make enough money.

Truth: You’re right. You could be making more money, but because of the skills and certifications you can receive working at camp, this job is worthwhile. Many camps provide housing and meals so all the money you make in the summer can be saved.

Myth #5: I could be doing something worthwhile.

Truth: Being a positive influence in the lives of hundreds of kids for a summer is an incredibly purposeful and worthwhile job.

Camp is a beneficial place to grow personally and professionally as a future employee in the workplace whether you are going into the non-profit sector, education, or the corporate world. Take the risk! It is worth it and will continue to benefit you for the rest of your life.

SaraRodriguezSara Rodriguez
Youth Program Manager
Warm Beach Camp

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“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” - Proverbs 22:6 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/pro.22.6.NLT

the long viewParenting requires more vision and persistence than anything else I have ever been involved with in my life. As parents we respond to a series of short term moments, many of them immediate (potty training, sharing toys, riding a bike, etc.).

As children grow, parents find themselves in more complex situations involving relationships, life choices, and finances. The desire to have freedom is pitted against the ability of a teen or emerging adult to demonstrate responsibility and trust.

A frequent question among parents is, “Are my children going to turn out all right?” This is code for a wide variety of concerns ranging from being a responsible citizen, staying out of trouble, choosing good relationships, and being able to make a sustainable living.

For parents who follow Jesus, the most profound concern is our children’s faith, “Will they follow Jesus, too?” All my children are in various stages of adulthood. My wife, Bev, and I pray for them often. Many times we awaken in the middle of the night with a burden to pray for one or more of our children or grandchildren.

This simple verse in Proverbs provides us with the “long view” parenting requirement: “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

When children are younger, directing them is easier to do. (Don’t get me wrong, it is still a lot of loving, and tireless effort.) As they grow older and become more independent, our role gradually becomes more about supportive guidance.

Perhaps the most vulnerable time as a parent is after having directed them onto the right path. My children are now making independent choices about the ways in which they live their lives. Sometimes, they step off, maybe for years. As parents, our hearts ache when this happens. It’s not what we want. It hurts. In contrast, we celebrate when they walk the path of faith in Jesus.

Proverbs reminds us to keep vision. The lessons taught and modeled over those early years of child development are in the lives of our children. Take the long view. God is working beyond what you and I see or know. Intercede in prayer. Be available for conversation. Help where appropriate. Live with vision. As children age, they will move towards the faith and values diligently modeled by us, as parents.

Keep the long view.

To this day, Bev and I pray Scripture over our children and grandchildren:

Dear Jesus,
Please help our children to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Please help them to love the people in the world with the love You love us with. In Your name Jesus, Amen

EdMcDowell Nov2018 80px webEd McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center

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WarmBeachCampYouthSummerCampIn the life of an adolescent, views of the world and God are highly dependent on that of their parent or guardian. Growing up, the influence of who they are and who God is, comes from what they are told by mom and dad. Eventually, they are surrounded by peers whose influence slowly adds to their worldview of what they believe about God and themselves.

Emotionally, adolescents are overwhelmed by hormones and confusion of different feelings. They feel strong emotion but cannot pinpoint where it is coming from. These children begin to feel a distance and separation from their parents and draw closer to their peers who are experiencing similar things.

As this emotional rollercoaster is pushing youth from their parents, it is also pushing them further from God. The emotional development of an adolescent is not the only contribution to a lacking faith in children during this time. The church has a particularly hard time communicating what faith in God really means at this stage of life. Leaving youth confused and uninformed of God’s love and their significant role in God’s heart.

Kenda Dean hits the nail on the head in her book, Almost Christian. She talks about the rising number of teens today who practice Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD). “It offers comfort, bolsters self-esteem, helps solve problems, and lubricates interpersonal relationships by encouraging people to do good, feel good, and keep God at arm’s length.”[1] This practice is not bad in a moral sense, but God is not at an arm’s length. God is all around and in every situation. He is as close as one's breath.

In this time where youth are clinging to this theology and feeling as if God is somehow uninterested in their life, Christian camp ministry is telling them the opposite. Coming to camp removes youth from their regular routines and places them in a safe environment where they can no longer rely on their friends or parents’ faith.

At camp, kids learn to make decisions about who God is based on the Gospel truth being presented to them in a space where they have time to reflect. Does this completely fix the issue of MTD? Not a chance, but it is a space of time where this idea is disassembled and pieced back together in truth.

College students who have devoted their summer to teaching youth the truth of God and His love have the opportunity to speak into areas where the camper normally has built up emotional walls. Youth find out the distance they think they are from God is merely a deeply rooted lie that they have believed. Camp helps youth reverse those lies and exchange them for truth.

[1] Dean, Kenda Creasy. Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2010.

SaraRodriguezSara Rodriguez
Youth Program Manager
Warm Beach Camp

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teambuildingwarmbeachcampThere is nothing like standing on a platform thirty feet off the forest floor while the rest of your team is telling you to jump! I remember the first time I experienced this. I felt my harness to make sure it was snug, tugged on the rope to make myself feel better, and hollered back at my team asking, “Are you ready?”

Once I was assured that the rest of my group was going to make sure I stayed air born, I jumped. As soon as my feet left the platform my heart sank. My hands grabbed onto the trapeze bar with no intention of letting go. Then it happened. The group leader told me to do the one thing I had no intentions of doing. Let go. So I did, and I was suspended off of the forest floor. After being slowly lowered to the ground, I was ready for round two!

Little did I realize, this was the beginning of a lifelong bond not easily broken. Do you have friends who will go through hell and high water for you? I know I do. Those friendships started with a day of team building.

It’s been a little over ten years since my first team building experience. Just the other day, one of the gentlemen from my group randomly showed up at my house to say, “hi.” I haven’t seen him in five years. But we have a connection that is not easily broken. We talked, laughed, and ate together. I can tell you with certainty that I trust him far more than many others I see daily.

So, why? Why put your youth or community group through a team building experience? Here is what I can tell you: team building invests in friendships. I have found, through my 10 years experience in team building and 12 years in youth ministry, that relationships are often developed and strengthened through team building experiences, and these friendship can last a lifetime!

I can’t tell you the number of times a team building friend has stopped by my home or asked me to catch up over a cup of coffee. Little did I know those friendships started with a silly high five and funny handshake during team building activities.

Spencer McDowell 400pxSpencer McDowell
Challenge Course & Recreational Activities Manager
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center

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employeeburnout“I feel tired, sort of thin inside, like butter spread over too much toast,” Bilbo confesses to Gandalf. Kind of feels familiar for far too many of us. Burnout is one of the top, if not the top reason people leave camp ministry.

Early on, burnout may feel like over-anxiousness, irritability (anger or other extreme emotions) far in excess of the immediate cause, constant weariness, spiritual dryness, or detachment. You may feel trapped, like the Bono song describes, “On an island in the middle of a busy intersection, I can’t go forward and I can’t turn back…” Later on, the symptoms may manifest themselves in physical ways, such as sleeplessness, mysterious pain, or extreme weight gain or loss.

Our burnout doesn’t just affect us. Our relationships suffer. Often those closest to us suffer the most as we are often physically absent trying to get one more thing done or pouring ourselves into one more demanding “people situation.”

Working in camp ministry is exhilarating and dangerous to the soul. Here, you are helping others, sharing Christ, doing good, meeting needs, fixing, maintaining, and answering a blizzard of emails, texts, and voice mails every day. Pressures to perform with inadequate budgets and staff can drive us unreasonably. The dangers of burnout are all around. Here are five ways to avoid burnout I’ve learned over my 34 years of experience in camp ministry:

  1. Know yourself: Know what brings energy and what takes energy. Learn how to recognize signs of being over-extended before they reach a critical point. Don’t be the proverbial frog in the kettle who boils to death in the slow increase of heat.
  2. Learn to say “no” as the surest route to your truest “yes.” Learn to recognize the difference between distractions and opportunities. Choose your priorities carefully and keep them before you and your team.
  3. Schedule down time for spiritual, personal, and relationship renewal. Spend time in prayer and God’s Word daily. Have meaningful conversation or touch-points with your immediate family and/or close friends. Take walks and just soak in the beauty of your natural surroundings.
  4. Schedule days off and vacations where you actually leave the property and disengage for a period of time. Have coworkers who can cover for you when needed. Discipline yourself to not answer emails, voice mails, or calls while on vacation.
  5. Get a life! Literally. Don’t forget other avenues of life outside of camp ministry. Find a hobby, sport, circle of friends, or avenue of community service where you engage in something not directly tied to the camp. This is harder for those living in remote locations. Keep expanding your world.

There are no easy answers. Many good books, seminars, PhD studies, and more have contributed to a wide range of resources available on this topic.

Choose to be where you are and what you want to engage in. If you get in over your head, stop and reassess. If someone who knows you intervenes, listen. Choose wisely the ways in which you respond to situations, expectations and demands. Build in disciplines, accountability markers, and boundaries that keep you refreshed and engaged in sustainability to your calling.

PatPatterson 2018 100pxPatrick Patterson, General Manager/C.O.O.
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center

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breadoflife“Jesus replied, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” - John 6:35 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/jhn.6.35.NLT

They came out to the countryside to hear Jesus speak. Thousands of people gathered. People were hungry. There were not any caterers or food trucks standing by. Jesus took a small amount of food, and fed everyone to the full with leftovers!

The day ended. Jesus traveled to another town across the lake. The next day, people crossed the lake in boats to catch up with Jesus. People had lots of questions: Who is Jesus? What else can He do? Can He show us how to do the same thing? What do we have to do for all of this to continue and be possible in our own lives?

Pause the story for a moment.

You and I are very familiar with the next amazing solution for our lives. From diets to gadgets, we are marketed “miracles” that will change our lives forever (individual results may vary). There is something about us that seeks ultimate solution. We want the best and we want it all. As a result, our culture is up to its eyeballs in debt, straining for the next best thing to solve issues in our lives.

Back to the story.

Jesus makes a simple statement to everyone: I am the bread of life. He goes on to respond to their questions by telling them that only one thing is asked of them: Believe in Jesus as God’s Son. Jesus continues by saying, contrary to other food that does not last, He provides food that lasts forever through His very life. Jesus makes a challenge: Focus on what lasts. Physical food spoils. It has to constantly be replenished. Believing in Jesus as the source of eternal food (life forever) that never spoils.

The story continues to a point of conflict. Jesus literally uses the image of His own flesh and blood as that which needs to be fed upon to participate in this life that lasts forever. This was hard for people to understand then as it is now. There was a time, as described in the Old Testament of the Bible, where the flesh and blood of animals were used as a sacrifice for our sins. It was the sacrificing of animals that kept us in relationship with God. This had to be repeated according to the details of God’s law.

Jesus comes along and talks about an eternal sacrifice that does not have to be repeated. It literally involves His own flesh and blood, once and for all. In effect, for everyone to feed on.

There is an ancient meal known as the Passover where the provision of God providing life in the midst of death literally happened. Wine and unleavened bread are taken to remember the day God provided life when death came knocking.

Jesus ties into this history. He knew the people would understand the connection. The way of animal sacrifice was a lot of work and effort. Jesus is taking the entire work of the sacrifice onto Himself, forever. His body. His blood.

In the Church today, we symbolize eating and drinking of Jesus through the sharing of Communion. This sacrament is a repurposing of the Passover. It literally means that Jesus gave us life when death came calling. This meal represents the sacrifice of Jesus to bring us into right standing before God, forever. The entire meal symbolically represents his flesh and blood.

At this point in the story, many people left Jesus. This teaching seemed bizarre and difficult.

Jesus points out that we cannot pull this off in our own effort. It is not enough to simply say, “I am going to do this through my own interest and effort.” It requires the pursuit and invitation of God the Father, Jesus’ Father. The Father draws us to His Son. He invites us and draws us close. With His help and pursuit of us, we are able to respond to Jesus.

The 12 disciples stay with Jesus because of this truth.

Faith in Jesus is not a fad or a trend. Contrary to our “self-help” culture, we cannot pull this off by ourselves. God brings us to Jesus and invites us to the bread of life that lasts forever.

Dear Jesus,

Thank You for being the bread of my life. Father God, thanks for drawing me to Jesus. I love You. Today I give fresh focus to believing and dwelling with You. I long to pursue You and Your kingdom forever.

In Your name Jesus I pray,
Amen

EdMcDowell Nov2018 80px webEd McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center

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"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest'"
Matthew 11:28 NLT https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.11.28.NLT

rest sounds goodI am weary and carry burdens that are heavy. Do you?

It seems that the most common response I receive in regards to how people are doing today involves being fatigued or under a heavy load in one way or another.

Do you identify with any of the following categories? Which ones apply to your life right now?
  • Relationships under stress
  • Too much debt
  • Vocational challenges
  • Over commitment
  • Not enough food
  • No insurance
  • Lack of opportunity
  • Religion
  • Culture and politics
  • Sleep
  • Health
  • Overweight
  • The need to change
  • Bitterness and resentment
  • Insecurity and anxiety

I am sure each of us can add specifics to this list that includes names of people and organizations we love and care about.

Along comes Jesus. He lays out a way of living in relationship to Him that is profound:

  • Forgiveness
  • A new beginning
  • Transformation over time
  • Peace that is beyond our own understanding
  • Joy that surprises
  • A constant advocate on our behalf
  • Provides wisdom in real time
  • He never leaves us
  • Love that is stronger than fear
  • Community

If you are already a follower of Jesus, you too can fill out this list of God’s incredible faithfulness in your life.

Jesus makes a simple offer: Come to Him.
Jesus promises: I will give you rest.

I am going to Jesus right now, right here, because rest sounds good right about now.

Dear Jesus,

Thank You for the invitation. Even this morning, I was tempted to bypass coming to You for rest. There is so much to be done, and taking time to rest with You seems counterproductive to the endless lists and needs of people and organizations in my life.

Thank You for pursuing me this morning and bringing me into Your rest. Thank You for letting me give to you my weariness and burdens. Please lead, guide and provide in each of these areas.

Thank You for Your generous peace.

With gratitude in Your name Jesus I pray.
Amen

EdMcDowell Nov2018 80px webEd McDowell, Executive Director
Warm Beach Camp & Conference Center

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