DaySpring Brings Camp to the Community

By John Langenstein

Summer is starting to wind down, and with it, camp season is coming to an end. The West Virginia Conference hosts some incredible camping opportunities for children and youth through Spring Heights Camp and Retreat Center. DaySpring Mobile Camp brings the camp experience to children across the conference. Powered by passionate volunteers and staff, this ministry has allowed the life-changing experience of Spring Heights camps to reach across potential barriers of access and find kids and families where they are. On top of all that, it is just plain fun.

DaySpring is a multi-day day camp. Campers are fed breakfast, led through devotions and activities, free time, games, and so much more. The activities they participate in and their lessons help them relate their faith to daily life. Children also develop valuable life skills and nurture new friendships. DaySpring is not just a gift to the campers, but a gift to the entire community the camp visits. The campers, the volunteers, and the host church are all part of the local community, and hosting DaySpring helps strengthen bonds across their neighborhoods. DaySpring connects communities to churches, churches to camp, and campers to Christ!

DaySpring camps found a new life during the COVID-19 pandemic, where community interaction became one of the most pressing needs in the lives of adults and children. St. John United Methodist Church in Scott Depot became involved during this time. “We were looking for something that would reach out beyond our own congregation,” says Reverend Teresa Markins, Pastor. “DaySpring shows children beyond our congregation, and their families, the love of Christ in action.” St. John has hosted camps for three years, reaching over one hundred children and their families in the process.

Camp ministry makes a difference in the lives of children. Transformation is the goal of every action through Spring Heights Camps. Most fundamentally, this is done through a simple reorientation of perspective. “Where did you see God today?” is a constant refrain between campers and leaders – ensuring that God’s work is always at the center of camp activities. This summer, DaySpring Mobile Camp reached over 350 campers and volunteers!

DaySpring staff provide curriculum, supplies, experience, and first aid knowledge to the event. The host Church provides space, volunteers screened and trained to meet Conference Safe Sanctuaries standards, and considerations such as lodging for staff and food each day. This collaboration brings the Church out of its doors and into the community to produce amazing results.

Bill and Lynda Eades, members of the Raliegh Parish, recently volunteered with a DaySpring camp in their area. The camp, offered at the Hope Center in Sophia was a cooperative act of all the United Methodist churches in the community. “I worked with the kids,” Lynda said. “A lot of them had never jumped rope before, so we taught them all about it.”

“Even the talents of the adult volunteers shone out,” Bill added. “The kids got to do some activities that were based on the particular skills of the volunteers. One woman knew origami, so the kids learned how to do it!” This camp brought in children from around the Hope Center. Most were not affiliated with any of the congregations present but were brought by families that heard about the camp and wanted their kids to be part of it. Bill and Lynda, as well as Rev. Markins, all shared one singular response to what a church should do if they are considering hosting DaySpring: “Do it!”

So how about it? Are you willing to jump into the opportunities that DaySpring offers? Churches interested in hosting should read DaySpring’s host guide. Those hoping to send some campers or to volunteer with Spring Heights can find updates and general contact information through the Spring Heights Facebook Page and Website. There is more than just camp work to be done at Spring Heights, so if you have a gift and a call, do not be afraid to reach out and see what you can do! Any further questions on Dayspring can be directed to Louisa Copenhaver, the Director of Spring Heights Camp and Retreat Center. You can reach her through email (click here to email her).

John Langenstein is the Provisional Elder at North View United Methodist Church and United Methodist Temple in Clarksburg, and a member of the Conference Communication Team.