By Roxanne Strike
Camping season will be here before you know it and for camp goers, it’s going to be the Best Week Ever, said Bryan Johnson, Leadership Development Minister for Camping and Christian Formation.
“No matter which camp you up for it’s the best week ever,” said Johnson. “There is literally something for everybody.”
Click here for information about the Iowa Conference camps
The Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church supports three campgrounds: Camp Wesley Woods in Indianola, Camp Okoboji in Spirit Lake and Camp Pictured Rocks in Monticello. Each camp is unique and exciting in its own way.
Camp Wesley Woods has an excellent horse program, said Johnson. Wesley Woods is also the most well known of the Iowa camps.
“For a lot of folks when they think of camps, it’s Wesley Woods,” said Johnson. “There’s a reason for that because it has so many programs.”
Okoboji has many unique adventure programs for campers to try. Campers can go canoeing and swimming in West Lake Okoboji. It also boasts a 1.2 mile go-kart track on its south campus through the prairie grass. It also has a brand new aerial course. According to Johnson, it’s one of the only commercial aerial courses in Northwest Iowa.
Camp Pictured Rocks is a beautiful campground with trails, caves, and hiking.
“If I were to spend one day in just any of our campsites, it’d absolutely be Camp Pictured Rocks,” said Johnson. “You come over the hill to see the beautiful scenic valley with cabins and the dining hall.”
While each camp site is different, Johnson said safety is their number one priority. Each campsite hires full-time season summer staff who are usually college students. Volunteers and staff go through background checks are through an intense training program.
“We take very seriously the supervision of children while they’re on our grounds,” said Johnson.
All three campsites are part of the American Camp Association, a standards-setting body that one in four campgrounds partner with. The American Camp Association help identify best practices for staff screening, safety measures, hospitality, cleanliness and all other aspects of the camping experience.
“We are so proud to say that all three Iowa United Methodist camps are associated, accredited and in good standing with the American Camp Association,” said Johnson.
Camping for all ages
Iowa United Methodist Camps are for children for as young as 4 up to adults. Parents don’t need to worry. Younger children won’t go to camp for an entire week.
“For 4-year-olds, they usually do a day camp or an overnight with mom and dad,” he said.
As the children get older, they can start staying two nights or more. Usually starting at the age of 9 is when children really get the camp experience.
“Folks will come and have that best week ever experience,” Johnson said.
Summer camp will begin in early June at Wesley Woods. Pictured Rocks and Okoboji will start a week later as college students start to arrive as summer staff. Johnson said it’s not too late to sign up yourself or a child for the best week ever as applications are accepted all summer.
“Come have the best week ever,” he said.