United Methodist camps build friendships, faith


By Becky Lasoski
Advocate Staff Writer 

Summer camp is one of the best tools outside of the home for building values, character and self esteem. 

For campers, it is a place of adventure and thrills, a place to build friendships and a place to discover the joys of youth. Mississippi residents have the opportunity to send their children to several United Methodist summer programs. Children of all ages can join in the fun ranging from an traditional camping experience to study seminars and college tours. 

Camp Lake Stephens, near Oxford, and Camp Wesley Pines, near Gallman, both offer weeklong residential camping experiences. “Our camps are not only a week of fun, but offer Christian education through worship, singing, and Bible study,” said Polly Phillips, office manager at Camp Wesley Pines. 

Many of the camp’s directors are United Methodist ministers and have worked at the camp for many years. “They are very giving of their time and energy to see that each camper has a week of fun and learning,” Phillips said. 

A new camp store, waterslide and four new paddle boats are some of the new additions waiting for Lake Stephens campers. Sessions are available for younger elementary, older elementary, junior high, senior high and family camps. 

Celebrating its 61st anniversary, Camp Lake Stephens also has long history of providing fun and spiritual growth for all of its campers. The camp offers amenities including a lake, hiking trails, tennis court and Olympic-size swimming pool. 

Looking for an alternative to camping that is both educational and fun? Gulfside Assembly will hold its 12th Annual Mission Education Travel Studies Seminar and College Tour for grades 8-12 during late June. “The theme is ‘Making Disciples’ using Matthew 28:19, ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ Through the Travel Studies Seminar, College Tour and Harambee Event, Gulfside continues its commitment to nurturing our youth and developing leaders,” explained Wilma Dunbar, business manager of Gulfside Assembly. 

The college tour will visit Alabama and South Carolina stopping at Alabama State University, LaGrange College, Spartanburg Methodist College, Morris College, Allan College, Benedict College, Columbia College and Claflin College. While in South Carolina, participants will take part in the Southeastern Jurisdiction Black Methodists for Church Renewal Youth Harambee Conference in Orangeburg. 

“This event is designed to promote unity and develop church leaders. There will be time to work, pray, sing, fellowship and build meaningful relationships with God and each other,” says Dunbar.

Seashore Assembly in Biloxi, through Camp SUMA, offers a variety of camping opportunities beginning on July 8. 

For more information about registration and fees call Dunbar at 228-467-4909 for Gulfside Assembly’s Mission and College Tour, or 228-436-6767 for Seashore Assembly.