Wednesday, December 30, 2009

OMA conference addresses seven foundations of Christian camping.

More than 40 people gathered at Woodland Altars in Southern Ohio District for the 2009 national conference of the Church of the Brethren’s Outdoor Ministries Association (OMA). The event, held every three years, took place Nov. 13-15 with the theme "Christ as Cornerstone."

The conference featured keynote speaker Rick Dawson of Camp Highroad, a United Methodist camp in northern Virginia. Dawson focused his presentation around his "Seven Foundations of Christian Camping," which he developed with a team working on a new vision for camp ministries in their church region.

Dawson outlined the dimensions of each of the seven foundations, which include providing an intentional place apart, teaching creation care and appreciation, developing Christian spiritual leaders, extending genuine Christian hospitality, nurturing Christian faith and discipleship, equipping guests to do love and service, and collaborating with churches and agencies.

"Try to make sure that everyone who comes to your camp has a mountaintop experience," Dawson said. "Offer them every tool you can."

An afternoon session led by Dawson encouraged "nuts and bolts" sharing in small groups on how the seven foundations might apply in practical ways to particular camp settings. He encouraged the development of a strategic plan at each camp to achieve those objectives, along with setting clear roles for staff and examining the camp’s church relationships.

The weekend also included a concert by John and Jan Long of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., who provided a mix of folk and peace tunes, including some sing-alongs, accompanied on banjo, dulcimer, and guitar. Breakout sessions between Dawson’s keynote addresses provided an opportunity to hike, do creative arts and crafts, or have further conversation with Dawson.

The annual OMA auction was held Saturday evening, and worship closed the gathering Sunday morning. Following the conference, camp directors, managers, and other staff remained at Woodland Altars for their annual networking retreat through Nov. 19.

-- Walt Wiltschek is editor of the Church of the Brethren’s "Messenger" magazine.

Source: 12/30/2009 Newsline

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