Posts Tagged With: nature

Thin Places

Last night marked the [almost] end to staff training with worship, communion, and staff commissioning.  It was a great night for many reasons, one of which being the reminder of the thin places.

1-DSC_4368thin place: those rare locals where the distance between heaven and earth collapses

Moses received the ten commandments on the top of the mountain. Jesus frequently went to the top of the mountain to pray.  Ancient churches were frequently built as high a possible on a hill or mountain.  Thin places.

paigerailey-42-3There is something about being in nature, particularly on a mountain, that allows you to feel God’s presence.  Are you physically closer to heaven? Probably not.  But thin places require struggle.  Thin places mean giving up control.  Thin places mean surrendering ourselves so that we may more fully experience God.

1-DSC_3991 I believe Asbury Hills is one of those places.  One of those places where God seems just a little bit more available. personable. present.

paigerailey-46-3We are on pace for 1100 campers to gather at Asbury Hills this summer.  Welcome.  Be ready to meet God.

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Christian Birth, Growth, & Renewal

We are in full planning mode at Asbury Hills. The 2015 budget has been finalized. The site is humming each weekend with retreat groups worshiping, fellowshipping, and having a blast! Details for Summer Camp 2015 are coming together and on-line registration is being set up. Part of planning for us is refocusing on our mission. What is the purpose of Asbury Hills?

Our mission is to serve all people for Christian birth, growth, and renewal. But what exactly does this mean?

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Christian Birth:
Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. –Romans 10:9

We desire for people to know Jesus Christ. Admittedly, most of our summer campers and retreat guests come from a church background. They do know Jesus Christ. But many do not. We want anyone who steps onto the property of Asbury Hills – whether it be a retreat guest, summer camper, hiker, person making a delivery, or simply someone who got lost in the mountains – to be able to encounter the living God.

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Christian Growth:
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. –John 15:5

We desire for people to grow in a relationship with Jesus Christ. As mentioned before, most of our guests do know Jesus Christ. But we also believe that faith is a journey, and part of this journey is to become more and more like Jesus. The staff at Asbury Hills seeks to provide an atmosphere that enables people to abide in Jesus Christ. This may be intentionally through a summer camp worship service or staff led devotion. It may also be something as small as trail maintenance to allow guests to hike and experience God through nature. We are always seeking to remove barriers and distractions so that guests can be focused on what God wants to do in their lives while on site with us.

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Christian Renewal:
Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so you can figure out what God’s will is – what is good and pleasing and mature. –Romans 12:2

We desire for people to be renewed in Jesus Christ. The world is full of distractions. Maybe our guests and campers have hit a plateau in their faith. Maybe they have started to fall away from faith all together. Asbury Hills seeks to create an environment that reflects Christian fellowship and community. We want to create an environment where it is easier to be a Christian. Unfortunately, we understand that people cannot stay at Asbury Hills forever. Hikers, campers, and retreats guests will have to return to their normal lives – complete with all the distractions they left behind. But our goal is that by creating the atmosphere of Christian community and temporarily removing the distractions, we have allowed time for our guests to be renewed in Christ and ready to take on the world again.

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One Year of Blogging

It was almost one year ago today that Asbury Hills started this blog.  We wanted a better way to connect with you – to tell stories, share information, or even just share a quote and a picture.  We had no idea it would take off the way it has with 2,148 followers and thousands of monthly views.  The best part of blogging though is getting to hear from you!  We love seeing you share our stories around Facebook & Twitter and being able to read the emails you send us asking for more information or sharing your opinion.  So for the next year, we ask you to keep them coming!

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And if you’ve missed out, here are our top 5 viewed blog posts from the past year.

1. 10 Questions with Asbury Hills Director David Rouse

2. Because I Went to Camp: Sarah’s Story

3. Happy Staff Equals Happy Campers

4. But Why? The Closed-Toe Shoe Rule

5. Asbury Hills – More Fun Than Disney World

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Climb the Alpine Tower

The staff here at Asbury Hills are having a blast planning for Summer Camp 2015 and getting to serve tons of retreat groups.  One of our favorite activities for both campers and retreat guests is the Alpine Tower.  Now, we understand that some of you reading this are too far away to travel to Asbury Hills for our annual Fall Festival on November 1st to try it for yourself.  We also understand that some of you are terrified of heights and simply putting on the harness is pushing you outside your comfort zone.  So whether you have already climbed the Alpine Tower, wish to climb, or can’t imagine climbing it – here is your opportunity to virtually climb the tower.

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Get Hooked on Nature

At Asbury Hills, we believe in the importance of kids spending time outdoors.

“As kids now spend more time with entertainment media, they’re getting less and less time outdoors, despite the mental and physical health benefits. Ben Klasky, CEO of IslandWood, a 255-acre outdoor learning center, proposes a free and natural remedy to the physical problems kids face: the Great Outdoors. ” -from TEDxRainier

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Survey Says….

At the conclusion of each week of summer camp, Asbury Hills sends out camper and parent surveys.  Here’s what you had to say:

 
Asbury Hills Infographic

 

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Platforms Coming to Home in the Woods

Home in the woods is a long-standing tradition at Asbury Hills. But it is also one of the activities on parent and camper reviews that people seem to either love or hate. We get it! It is designed to be an activity to challenge groups to work together and push campers out of their comfort zones. We understand that family camping, especially primitive camping, is not as common as it once was. Because of this, for many of our campers, home in the woods is their first experience camping out ever!

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Many of you know, our staff spends many meetings each fall and spring reviewing the results of summer evaluations and planning to make the next summer even better than the last. Because feedback is typically split on home in the woods, it is something that we discuss each year. The answer we come up with is always a resounding YES. Home in the woods is still worth it for our campers because it offers individual skills and aids in group formation in ways we cannot replicate with a different activity. (For a former staff’s perspective on home in the woods, click here.)

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However, we are sensitive to our campers’ experiences and expectations. We expect home in the woods to be a challenging activity for some, but we want it to be a great one by the end! This is why we are excited to announce, for the summer of 2015, there will be platforms built at the home in the woods sites. These platforms will allow our groups to have the same opportunity to experience nature first hand and for campers to learn camping and cooking skills while providing a little more comfortable of an experience. Campers will still be sleeping in nature without having to sleep directly on the group. This will also limit the amount of tarp flooding that can happen when rain moves in on home in the woods nights.

Eagle scouts and other volunteer groups will be working various weekends this fall and spring to outfit our campsites with platforms. We are excited to be able to offer them to campers this summer!

Examples of a platform type:

platform 1

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Throwback Thursday: Dreams Becoming Reality On Methodist Mountain Camp-Site

Below is an article originally published in the February 21, 1963 edition of the Advocate. Today, we are thankful that 50+ years ago many worked towards and dreamed of the place that would become Asbury Hills Camp & Retreat Center.

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Next Sunday is Camp Development Day in the Methodist Churches of South Carolina.

Behind it are the hopes, dreams, and mountain-top visions, on the part of many people through long years of youth-work in the Methodist churches of South Carolina, which are now becoming a reality.

In the mountains, between Travelers’ Rest and Caesar’s Head, Cleveland, SC, the Methodist Camp is taking physical form.

Ten cabins have been finished, of which seven are for Juniors, and three for Senior Youth.

Being built are the Health Center, Staff Lodge, and Dining Hall. Just completed is the Bath House. Previous to this, a water system was install, roads built, a dam built and water impounded for the lake, and a home constructed for Camp Superintendent Wesley Voigt and his family.

There are 565 acres in the site.

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Camping has been an important part of the program of Christian Education conducted by the Boards of Education of the form Upper South Carolina and the South Carolina conference. With the merging of the two conferences in 1949, the program has been statewide in nature.

Working under the direction of the conference executive secretary of the Board of Education in this program have been Directors of Youth Work, who have borne a major part of the responsibility through the years.

With state-wide responsibility, and coming into contact with hundreds of young people from the nearly 800 Methodist churches throughout the state, the post is a vital one in the life of the church. At times served by volunteer leaders of the Conferences, and at other times by full-time persons, all have found camping a valued part of the church’s work.

Each summer, for many years past, the camping program has been carried on at State Parks, rented for limited periods of time in the summer, and in such other facilities as have been available.

Under such circumstances, limitations of time and facilities have limited the number of youth who could be accommodated in the summer camping program. It has also meant that no opportunity was available for junior-age children to camp. Yet, year-by-year it was demonstrated again and again that the camping experience under church sponsorship opened the way to joy and happiness and increased spiritual growth…

Now the work is under way.

cabin

With the earlier contributions, and the memorial cabins already built and the work that has already been done, the present construction will make it possible to use the Camp in the summer of 1963.

Beginning the third week in June, there will be four weeks of camping for Junior girls and boys.

Senior youth, age 15 and above, will have a two-weeks Work Camp, beginning the first week in July. At that time they will help to develop some phase of camp life. Last year, 20 young people in such a camp built two bridges over streams in the camp.

The Work Camp this year will be limited to 22 persons. Applications should be made to the Youth Director….

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Summer Camp 2015!

It may be the end of August 2014, but the Asbury Hills staff is already hard at work planning for the summer of 2015!  There are many things that are in the works that we are excited to tell you about in the coming weeks and months.  We have gone through parent, staff, and camper surveys to compile lists of what you said you wanted.  One of these wants we’ve been hearing for the past couple years is holding a two-week camp, and Asbury Hills is excited to announce it is happening for 2015!  Our Junior and Senior High campers will have the opportunity to worship, fellowship, and have fun for two weeks next summer at our Expedition sessions.  If your camper is not quite ready for a two-week camp yet, that is alright!  Here is the full schedule for summer 2015.  Hope to see you there!

2015 Summer Calendar Web

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What’s in a Game?

In case you haven’t heard, the World Cup game of Germany vs. USA starts in less than an hour. This has us thinking about what makes for a good game. We do play the traditional kickball, soccer, basketball, etc. occasionally, but the best camp games tend to be the ones campers don’t get to play everyday. So, what makes a good game? The best ones engage all campers. We never want someone to feel like they are left out, so a good game keeps campers playing, still engaged if they are “out,” or have a fast turnover rate so a new game is quick to start. A good camp game also has the element of teamwork. Campers have to work together or interact with each other during the game. Games get bonus points if these interactions encourage campers to mingle and mix with the entire group. And most of all – games have to be fun. No one wants to play a boring game. The game that has quickly become a favorite at Asbury Hills is Ships and Sailors. Here’s how you play:

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Ships and Sailors

This game is a cross between Simon Says and Mingle. The facilitator is the captain and gives these commands:

  • Ships- run to the left
  • Sailors – run to the right
  • Captain on Deck – stand and salute. The captain will try to make you laugh.
  • At ease – Stand normally
  • Man overboard – Everyone pairs up in twos with one person on their tummy and the other with their leg on 
their back and hand over their eyebrows as if they are looking out to sea.
  • Chicken in the henhouse – 2 people. One person goes on all fours. The other puts their knee on the 1st 
person’s back and clucks like a chicken.
  • Walk the plank – 4 people line up single file
  • Three men in rowboat – get in groups of three and pretend to row
  • North Star – get in groups of 5 and walk in a circle with right (or left) hands in the center
  • Hit the Deck – Everyone drops to the ground
  • Beluga Whale – Everyone lies on their stomach grabs their ankles and sticks their tongue out
  • Life Preserver – Everyone runs and hugs a buddy
  • Cockroach – Lie on your back and wave your hands and feet around

Kids who do the action incorrectly or get left out of the groups are considered “out.” The last person remaining wins.

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