UMC Outdoor Ministry
The mission of United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministry is to create environments of Christian hospitality and learning designed to help people affirm and expand their faith in God, learn spiritual practices of Christian discipleship, grow in wisdom and in healthy self-esteem, establish lifestyles of loving interdependence with one another and all God's creation, and develop as spiritual leaders who serve to enhance the common good. In addition to serving United Methodists, many camps and retreat centers serve other religious groups, educational groups, and nonprofit organizations. More than 250 camps and retreats centers worldwide offer faith development experiences, service opportunities, and educational programs. They also offer a ministry of Christian hospitality for nonprofit retreat groups. The mission of Occohannock On The Bay is to provide programs and facilities which make use of the natural setting of waterfront, woodland, and open spaces to help people of all ages grow in their knowledge of and love for God.
Occohannock on the Bay's Camp Philosophy
Every aspect of the summer program at OOTB follows a common function. Our working philosophy centers on what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12). Our function is to help each camper gain a better understanding of his/her part in Christ’s Body and his/her role in God’s creation. Form follows function. Aspects of our form are as follows:
Small Group Emphasis: 12-14 campers and 2-4 counselors combine to make a unit (small group); low camper to counselor ratio; strong emphasis on safety; there is NO unsupervised time.
Sanctity of the Small Group: Each unit (group) plans their own week on with the Program Board; every camper’s location is known at all times by the counselors/program director
Experiential Christian Education: More time is spent living and doing things together as Christians; relationships and activities are foundations of the campers’ learning; nightly worship in both large and small groups; counselors constantly seek the “teachable moment
Emphasis on Stewardship of God’s Creation: OOTB provides low-impact site camping. Activities involve active participation and interaction with God’s creation on 50 acres, a creek and the beautiful Chesapeake Bay
The Small Group’s Dynamics: Each group experiences: Forming: Individuals become a group following registration. Norming: Group interactions take on patterns and “norms”. Storming: Any group difficulties eventually surface. Performing: Group realizes potential as the Body of Christ. Reforming: Debriefing and preparing for re-entry into the world
Progression of Programs: Each age level offers new and more challenging programming. Adventure and skillbuilding camps support this progression
Family Style Meals and Cookouts: Meals are a major part of the experiential Christian education each camper receives—family style expectations and table fellowship
Camping (to camp) implies ACTION: OOTB believes there should be effort required at camp to provide for our daily needs (food, shelter, clean bathrooms, set tables, etc.). When entering into this type of setting, a deeper sense of our own creativity emerges. Campers experience the closeness of living and caring for self and others, analogous to the community of early Christians as described in 1 Corinthians 12.