Posts Tagged With: united methodist

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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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.

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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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Happy Staff Equals Happy Campers

We are partly through our last week of staff training before summer camp begins THIS SUNDAY! Asbury Hills is really blessed this summer with a fantastic staff, and training has flown by. We have had a great time training on the Wet Willy, zipline canopy tour, summer craft, and more. But we also realize that some important topics like child abuse and safe sanctuary are very necessary, but not fun topics to talk about. We also know that as the summer progresses, staff members will have a rough week or two and be tempted to lose energy.

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To combat this, Asbury Hills really pours into our staff. We firmly believe that happy staff equals happy campers. And if we don’t have happy staff, we will not have happy campers. No one wants this so we do the following to keep our staff happy:

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  1. Time off during the weekends. If this is impossible due to Family Camp or other groups, we will make it up during the week.
  2. Staff dinner offsite on Fridays.
  3. A rivalry softball game with a neighbor camp during staff training.
  4. Staff funs days like a Greenville Drive baseball game and a surprise trip in July.
  5. Staff sponsors to pour into our staff with prayers and cards during the summer. (To learn more about this, click here.)
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Asbury Hills Summer Camp FAQs

Asbury Hills staff members have been travelling around the state this winter and spring telling people all about Asbury Hills. Along the way, we have encountered some questions we get asked on a regular basis and thought we could clear some up for you.

What If My Camper Misses Home?
It is hard to tell who might miss home and who might not.  The younger the camper, usually the easier it is to engage them in activities, help them fit into a group, and forget they are missing home.  Older campers are far less prone to missing home, but their emotions tend to be more serious.  A general outline for how we handle the issue is: help them fit in, keep them incredibly engaged and having fun, listen to them, and treat them with respect.  If we see any concerns – we try to talk to you ahead of time, let you know what we are seeing, and see if you have any advice.

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Can My Camper Call Home?
Campers are not allowed to call home. Why?  Because if you take a perfectly happy summer camper and put them on the phone with the one they love the most – they will instantly miss you and home.  Yes, it is true even of those having the absolute time of their life.  If an emergency comes up, however, and it is important you speak with your child – we will make it happen.  Worried about your child? – give us a call or send us an e-mail and we’ll check in with them and get back to you.

Will my Camper Fit In? 
One of the greatest parts about summer camp at Asbury Hills is kids can recreate themselves into the positive person they want to be.  They are no longer stuck in the set of expectations their friends and school have for them, and they can reach out and grow in positive Christian fellowship.   Fitting in, making friends, and finding acceptance are some of our top priorities for our campers.

I see Asbury Hills is a Methodist camp.  What if my family isn’t Methodist?
Not a problem at all.  We certainly are a faithbased camp – but our Christian summer curriculum is open and welcoming to all.  Our summer camp is also so much fun that even if your child has yet to come to faith – they will have a blast.  We believe the personal exploration of faith is a vital part of our mission and in this area, you and your child can expect each session to have: energizing worship, daily themes that integrate into the day’s activities and messages, small group discussions, and evening devotions.  The rest of the week is filled with incredible camp activities and time to share fun times with friends.

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What If My Camper has Food Allergies or a Special Diet?
We can almost always accommodate special dietary needs. Our kitchen is peanut free during the summer, but if you have another concern, let us know! We typically have a few vegetarians/vegans each week and have several gluten-free needs throughout the summer. We work with all campers needing special food considerations to determine which foods we are serving during the week will already accommodate their need, which meals we can make adjustments to, and which meals the parent will need to bring food to supplement.

Are you ACA Accredited?
Yes we are accredited by the American Camp Association.  To learn more about what this means, please visit their website.

Can My Child and I Visit Camp Prior to the Summer?
If this will be your child’s first time at camp, please feel free to give us a call at 864.836.3711 to set up a tour. Let your child see the camp, explore the cabins they might stay in, and get excited about the experience. Take an imaginary hike from the campfire pit to the cabins, picture yourselves playing in the creek, and leave ready to come back soon! We are also having our Open House on Sunday, April 6 from 1-5 PM. Come check us out!

What Are the Cabins Like?
For many first time campers, it’s a comfort to have an idea of what to expect. All of our cabins are heated and air conditioned with bathrooms and showers attached. They can pick out their own bunk for the week and will share the cabin with a group of 14 boys or girls and 2 counselors. We want you to know that there will be times where everyone has to wake up and clean up the cabin, times when the whole cabin comes together for cabin devotions, and other times when it’s time for bed and everyone needs to settle in for quality rest time.

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Can I Visit My Camper During Camp?
Each session’s schedule is packed full of activities, and we’ve found that mid-session camp visits disrupt the flow of camp and each camper’s experience. You are welcome to call in at any time to check on your camper, but please do not show up unannounced.

Can My Camper Bring a Friend?
Part of coming to camp is making new friends. At the same time, if your child wants to bring a friend with them to camp, or if they would like to be re-united in a cabin with a friend from a previous year, we will do our very best to honor up to 2 cabinmate requests. Requests should be campers of similar ages and in the same session. If you would like your child to be separate from another camper – these requests must be made in writing and sent two weeks prior.

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Mountain Top Experiences

In the Christian calendar, this is the week where we move from Transfiguration Sunday into Lent.  This is the week where we come down from the mountain.  Amazing things happen on the mountain.  God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on the top of the mountain.  God spoke to Elijah on the mountain.  Jesus regularly retreated to the mountains and was transfigured on a mountain.  Lives are changed every week on retreats and at summer camp on a mountain at Asbury Hills.

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Mountain top experiences are named that for a reason.  We feel incredibly close to God and ready to take on anything – and many times these experiences happen on a mountain.  We want to stay there.  Even Peter in Matthew 17:4 had this desire to stay. “Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’”  But Peter had to come down from the mountain, and so do we.  By Sunday afternoon, retreat groups have packed up and left for home.  Friday afternoons in the summer are left for staff debriefings because campers are headed down the mountain.  We cannot stay forever, but there are five things we can do to stay as high on the mountain as possible as we journey back into the world.

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  1. Start every morning with praise and worship.
  2. End everyday with devotion and reflection.
  3. Look for God in the small, everyday moments.
  4. Surround yourself with a Christian community.
  5. Find a Christian mentor who can help guide you in your journey.

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How Did Francis Asbury Do It?

Guest post by Ryan Culby, Asbury Hills Director

Friday, October 28, 1803
“We found a new road, lately cut, which brought us in at the lead of a little river, at the old fording-place, and within hearing of the falls, a few miles off of the head of Matthews Creek, a branch of the Saluda: the waters foaming down the rocks with a descent of half a mile, making themselves heard at a great distance” – Francis Asbury

Could Francis Asbury be describing Raven Cliff Falls?  I’d like to think so.  His next journal entry wasn’t until the 31st, and I’d like to think he spent some time here at Asbury Hills on his way to Greenville.  After riding 1270 miles from Philadelphia through “filth, fleas, rattlesnakes, hills, mountains, rocks, and rivers…” he must have needed a rest.  A place to rejuvenate.  A place of renewal.

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A quick study of Francis Asbury reveals some interesting ideas.  He likely traveled 300,000 miles by horse and delivered around 16,500 sermons.  He created a system of districts with circuit riding ministers serving local, rural populations.  He grew the church from 1200 to 214,000 members and added 4,000 preachers.  Then, under the structures he helped create, the church grew to 1.5 million by the Civil War.

Wow. How could a church grow at rates like that?  From a camping perspective – we think it had a lot to do with the nature of church back then.  We think that under Wesley’s and Asbury’s leadership, church wasn’t necessarily an indoor affair.  It could be under a tree, by a creek, in a field – wherever people came together in Christ’s name.

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Research today reveals some interesting ideas about camp.  Four in ten church members and the majority of pastors reported having had a significant spiritual experience at camp.  How?  Maybe it’s immersion in God’s creation.  Maybe it’s taking the time to retreat and renew.  Maybe it’s just getting a chance to know each other in a different setting outside the walls of a church while still being within the church.

Please get out.  Retreat.  Renew.  Be reborn.

And consider returning to Asbury Hills to do it.

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Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!  At Asbury Hills, we have so much to be thankful for.  We could blog about it for the rest of the year, but we settled on sharing our top 5.

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  1. God
    If you step onto the grounds of Asbury Hills chances are you will feel God moving.  God moves through the worship of campers and retreat guests, moves through fellowship over the ropes course and s’mores, and powerfully moves through the quiet sounds of nature.  It is incredible to see God work through people and circumstances to make possible what we could not even imagine.
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  2. History
    Asbury Hills is heading into the 53rd year of ministry.  That’s incredible.  It is humbling to think about the tens of thousands of people who have stepped in the same creek that still flows strongly through today. We are excited to see what the next 50 years have in store.
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  3. Families
    Whether you are a first time camper, have been coming for years, send your child or grandchild to camp, come on a retreat, or even just come for a day of hiking—you become part of the Asbury Hills family.  We are so blessed to be able to share life together with you.
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  4. Staff, Board Members, and Volunteers
    We have a large group of people dedicated to making Asbury Hills a better place.  Our year-round staff, summer staff, board members, and volunteers regularly give of themselves. Because of this Asbury Hills is the place that is today and has a very bright future looking forward.  Thank you.
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  5. Our United Methodist Church Family
    We are so thankful for the support from United Methodist churches and the South Carolina conference.  We are so grateful that you allow us to come into your church to share our ministry, you entrust us with your congregations, and share your resources with us through apportionment giving.  Thank you.  We could honestly not do what we do without your support.
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The Saints of Asbury Hills

This past Sunday, the United Methodist Church celebrated All Saints Day.  This “is a time to remember Christians of every time and place, honoring those who lived faithfully and shared their faith with us.”[1] In my time of reflection on those who have helped shape my life of faith, it occurred to me the same could be said for Asbury Hills.

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In over 50 years of ministry, there have been thousands of campers, thousands of retreat guests, hundreds of summer staff, several directors, and numerous board members.  All are the saints of Asbury Hills who have helped shape this place into what it is today.  We pause today to give thanks for you.

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