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.
Posts Tagged With: woods
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
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!
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.)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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….
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!
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:
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.
If you have ever been a counselor at Asbury Hills, you probably still have “flashlight, water bottle, poncho?” on repeat in your head. Why is this? Well, because it gets really dark at night in the woods so it is always good to have a flashlight on hand. Also, summer heat + hiking everywhere you go + lots of physical activities = the need for lots of water. And lastly, it is much better to be dry in the rain instead of wet.
Did you know that Asbury Hills is located in the Appalachian temperate rain forest? This means that it rains at camp. It rains a lot. One of the questions we get asked frequently is – what do you do when it rains? Honestly, the answer is pretty simply. We just have camp in the rain. Many of our activities are water based, and it really makes no difference if you creek hike in the rain or sunshine. You are getting wet regardless. Other times, campers can simply put on their rain jacket or poncho and continue doing the activities.
There are other times, like during a thunderstorm, that activities must stop. It is obviously not safe for campers to be in water or 50 feet in the air attached to metal cables during a storm. Thankfully, most thunderstorms are pretty short lived, and groups can wait them out. Other times, counselors pull out their rainy day games to keep their group safe, engaged, and having fun. These are games like party quirks, banana slugs, mind games, and signs. There are also times when the weather decides to grace us with rain during a scheduled outdoor worship time. This is also no problem as we just move locations to the Rec Shelter, dining hall, or other covered space and worship continues as scheduled.
We are in week 1 of summer camp, and it is Tuesday. This can only mean one thing – it is home in the woods night! Home in the woods is a long standing tradition at Asbury Hills because of its ability to get groups outside of their comfort zone, fully immerse in God’s creation, and come back to main camp as a much stronger group for the rest of the week. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Sam Bradley, a camper and staff alumnus, shares her story:
My first week as a counselor on staff at Asbury Hills was going well. I had a great group of campers that were all having a wonderful time together. Home in the woods, our night of camping out, started off just as well as the rest of the week. We arrived in plenty of time, gathered lots of firewood, and were eating dinner by 6:00. Because we were able to eat at a decent hour, we decided to play in the creek for a while before eating s’mores. It was dark by the time we settled around the fire for dessert, so we could not see the dark clouds forming over our heads. All of a sudden the bottom fell out. Everyone rushed around the campsite grabbing book bags, sleeping bags, and extra clothes and throwing them under the security of the tarp. My co-counselor and I ushered the girls under the tarp while we threw another tarp over the firewood and began to fix our now leaking shelter.
My heart was beginning to sink. We were having such a good time, and the rain came and ruined our camping experience. I knew the girls would forget the fun we had before, and would only remember how cold and wet the rain felt on their skin. When we finally got the tarp lowered to prevent any more rain from coming in, we entered the shelter, ready to comfort our disappointed campers. But to our surprise, we could not have been more wrong. The girls were all huddled together in the middle of the shelter, laughing about what had just happened. They had already decided how they would spread out their blankets to share with the girls who had wet sleeping bags. We all spent the next couple of hours sitting together talking about everything imaginable. When we finally went to sleep, the rain outside was long forgotten.
The next morning, they could not wait to get back to camp to tell everyone about our night out in the woods. I could not believe how excited they were about soggy s’mores and wet sleeping bags. But when I started to think about it, I knew exactly why they were so excited.
7 years ago, the first summer I was a camper at Asbury Hills, nearly the exact same thing happened to me. The rain poured down on us, we could not get a fire going, and finally ended up eating dinner well after nightfall. We too huddled together in the limited dry area of our shelter. The bond I formed that night over the shared “hardship” with my fellow campers was the reason I decided I wanted to come back to Asbury Hills the following summer.
Although a dry home in the woods experience is much easier and less stressful for everyone involved, a part of me always prays for rain on nights of a campout at Asbury Hills.
The first week of staff training begins this week with band rehearsals, leadership training, summer prep, ropes training, and lifeguard training. Next week, all of our staff will arrive to start two weeks of full staff training. This means that summer camp is only three weeks away! Many families are starting to gather together the essentials. Some campers are already packed and ready to come to camp. Others are just trying to make it through the end of the school year and haven’t even thought about what they will bring to camp. Regardless of where you are, here are some commonly asked questions with answers about what to bring to camp.
What kinds of clothes should I bring?
As a general rule, we recommend bringing any clothes that you don’t mind if they don’t make it home in the same condition they came in or don’t come home at all. We work hard to keep the cabins orderly, campers clean, and all belonging with their original owner. However, it is camp and sometimes stuff gets misplaced or really dirty.
What are water shoes?
We have many water activities at camp including canoeing, creek hiking, and the Cascades waterfall. All these activities require shoes, and these shoes will get wet. Water shoes are really just having an extra pair of shoes so campers have dry shoes to change into and prevent blisters. These can be an old pair of tennis shoes, Keens or something similar work great, or any other sturdy, closed toe shoes. (For reasons as to why closed toe shoes are important, click here.)
How should I bring medication?
If you child takes a medication on a regular basis, bring it to camp. We need for prescription medications to be in the prescribed bottle with the dosing instructions. If you bring meds in a plastic bag or pill sorter without the prescription information, we cannot give the medication. If it is over the counter, like a Zyrtec, bring it in its original bottle.
We don’t want you to bring over the counter medications that your camper may need. We have medications for all kind of camper aliments (for a full list please refer to the camper health form). It makes it much easier on our nurse to give medications from our supply should a camper need them instead of keeping up with bottles brought from home.
What can my camper not bring?
For the full list, please refer to the link below, but in general, we don’t want your camper to bring anything that distract from his/her experience at camp. Food and drinks invite bugs and other critters to make their home in your camper’s cabin. No one wants that. Cell phones, music players, and video games distract from the beautiful natural setting Asbury Hills is located in, but more importantly, hinder the formation of relationships. I’m sure all of you have seen a group of youth sitting together, but all looking down at their cell phone or video game. We want our campers to form real relationships with each other, and we have found removing technology greatly helps this process.
For the full list of what to bring and what not to bring, click on the camper information kit here.
Oh it is the bane of many a summer staffer’s existence. The closed-toe shoe rule. Summer is hot. The shoes generally take longer to dry when campers decide to jump in the puddle. In a cabin of 6-year-old boys, the counselor will end up tying approximately 43.6 shoes per day. Brand new Chacos are sitting unused in the bottom of a trunk. It all seems like a cruel joke. So why do we insist? Well, shoes that aren’t tied on can come flying off on this
But most importantly we have lots of these
and to get anywhere you have to walk here
And even though all of our staff are trained in first aid and we have a registered nurse on site, a week of camp is much more fun when your feet don’t look like this