Camping and retreat for small groups, families, cohorts and clergy circuits

August 13, 2020

The Conference Board of Camping and Retreat Ministries in following the protocols, precautions, preparedness and guidelines prepared by the Office of Disaster Response Ministry of the California-Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church, and resources from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Camp Association, is offering an alternative consideration for camping and retreat of small groups, families, cohorts and clergy circuits from our congregations and communities.

Disappointed that you can’t have your usual big children and youth ministry camp or retreat this summer? All of our conference scheduled summer camps have been cancelled. We have adapted into the COVID-19 pandemic with our “CAMP IN A BOX” virtual camping both for Toyon Camp and Camp Lodestar participants.

Creatively and resourcefully speaking, why not think of alternatives that could work for deepening relationships and faith development with small-er groups that are now allowed at several camp/retreat centers? Our three sites, Monte Toyon in Aptos (Santa Cruz area), Waller Center-San Francisco and the Lake Tahoe UMC-Retreat are available at

Here’s some ideas to get you thinking of possibilities:

1. Have an overnight retreat just for girls, and then another one just for boys.

2. Hold a retreat just for incoming middle schoolers.

3. Hold a retreat just for incoming high school seniors.

4. Confirmation class retreats are always a great component in your ministry. Have a small group of youth who would be eligible? This would be a great year to do something special just with them! Or, maybe gather your last confirmands and do something to re-connect.

5. Launch a new covenant group or have an overnight retreat to celebrate with a study group, Disciple group or other meaningful small group as their time together concludes.

6. Who will you be giving Bibles to this year? New readers, 3rd graders, new members? How about a small group “get to know your Bible” retreat?

7. Strengthen or jump start a new Sunday School class.

8. Why not gather 2 or 3 families for a family retreat? Maybe families that are attending your Messy Church gatherings or newer to your congregation or community.

9. Who are your colleagues in ministry? What churches do you cooperate with in your locale? Do one or more of these things together as a circuit or ecumenical gathering if you are each working with very small numbers of likely participants.

10. Leadership development is always important, as is planning for ministries in the coming year. Why not “come away and rest for a while” and do some dreaming and planning with a leadership team?

Lake Tahoe UMC-Retreat at Kings Beach has re-opened and is available for alternative small group or retreat events. Some ideas for your consideration are bike camps and plan to do road bike rides along or around the lake. Our camping staff can help design the program with your leadership teams. Kings Beach at North Lake Tahoe has beautiful trails that our staff could help design MTB trail rides with either camping or retreat.

Click here to see the video and let us know if you have any questions or need for assistance in planning your coming to LTUMC-Retreat.

Fel Cao, Jamie Rogers and the Team at LTUMC-Retreat

(Thanks to the Rev. Lisa Jean Hoefner for her wonderful ministry contribution, service and investment at LTUMC-Retreat)