Can't find something?

We're here to help.

Send us an email at:

contact@michiganumc.org

and we'll get back with you as soon as possible.

Bay Shore expands camp experiences

Bay Shore Day Camp

Bay Shore Camp & Family Ministries now hosts off-site Traveling Day Camps as well as activities for all ages at two sites, one in Sebewaing and the other in Gagetown.

CINDY GIBBS
Bay Shore Camp & Family Ministries

Games. Arts and crafts. Bible lessons taught in children’s terms. Interactive worship. And the shrieks of laughter that tell you kids are having fun. It’s church camp at its best.

But this is not your typical camp. Instead of spending the night in dorm-style bunks, these kids will sleep in their own beds each night and come back in the morning. This is day camp … in fact, it’s Traveling Day Camp, a program that puts a great opportunity right in kids’ backyards.

Traveling Day Camp, also known as Day Camp on the Road, or “OTR,” is a ministry of Bay Shore Camp and Family Ministries in Sebewaing. The program began in 2019 as an alternative camp experience for children (and their parents) who are not ready to spend a week away from home.

“The benefits of ‘Day Camp on the Road’ are the same as attending an onsite camp at Bay Shore,” says Jeff Parsons, Bay Shore’s Executive Director. “Camp promotes independence and resilience and confidence, it’s a place for kids to belong, it cultivates relationships and improves social skills and provides a place of affirmation. It’s a place for them to encounter God. And, it’s fun!”  

Host churches provide outdoor and indoor spaces for camp activities. Bay Shore provides energetic leaders who haul camp equipment with a pickup truck and trailer. Day Camp includes several of the high-adventure activities offered at Bay Shore’s base camp in Sebewaing.

“High adventure activities like a climbing wall and archery are some of the ways kids develop and strengthen their self-confidence and experience encouragement and affirmation,” Parsons says.

In addition to the benefits children receive, host churches and their communities also experience a positive impact. Rev. Ryan Wenburg says the program has “brought a lot of energy” to Frankenmuth United Methodist Church.

“Bay Shore comes in with their group of leaders with a well-thought-out program,” Wenburg says. “The camp is well-organized, and it frees the church up to come alongside instead of having to bear the burden.”

“Coming alongside” includes providing volunteer assistants and kitchen staff. Wenburg says church members are eager to help.

The program also benefits the Frankenmuth community. “Our goal is to reach those who are not churched in general,” Wenburg says.

Day Camp OTR began with two sites the first year and soon grew to six. This year Bay Shore has equipped a second team with all that is needed to accommodate requests for additional sites. Day Camp locations include churches in Kalamazoo, Portage, Hale, Frankenmuth, Saline, Chesaning, Howell, Lapeer, Lansing, and Sterling Heights.

Day Camp Also On-Site

For families within Michigan’s Thumb, Day Camp has also been offered on-site in Sebewaing. This year, on-site Day Camp is moving to a second campus called Faith Quest, near Gagetown. Formerly known as Noah’s Ark Family Fun Center, Faith Quest offers features not available at Bay Shore’s main campus, including a private lake for paddleboats, canoes, and kayaks. A former chapel has been renovated into a kid-friendly worship space featuring bright colors and chalkboard walls.

Weekly Camps Still Going Strong

Bay Shore continues to conduct week-long overnight camps for soccer, volleyball, baseball, softball, fishing, and worship and theatrical arts, as well as more traditional camps for specific age groups. In addition to focused learning in both the weekly theme and the Christian life, campers also enjoy playing Ga-Ga Ball, Nine Square, and Carpet Ball. There are opportunities for canoeing, swimming in the camp pool, and crafts. For those with a taste for adventure, the camp boasts a climbing wall, paintball, laser tag, and a zipline. Each day closes with worship in the tabernacle or at an outdoor worship site.

“Camper registrations have been coming in strong, which is an indication that families are ready to resume normal summer activities for their kids and recognize the value of camp in their child’s development,” Parsons says.

Register Now!

Information for all Bay Shore programs can be found at its website, bayshorecamp.org. Click on the tab for “Summer Camps.” Registration for Day Camp OTR is at bayshorecamp.org/daycampotr/. For Faith Quest, go to bayshorefaithquest.org/.

Family and Group Opportunities

Bay Shore also hosts several family events during the summer. In late July, a week-long Family Camp provides fun and Christian enrichment for everyone ─ parents, grandparents, youth, and children. Some activities involve everyone together, while others focus on age-based groups.

“This Family Camp event, in its 111th year, welcomes new families every year,” Parsons says. “We love seeing families playing and worshipping together in a faith-filled environment.”

Also on the schedule are a couple of family camping weekends, a camping experience for you and your dog, as well as Family Fun Days in June and October. Bring your RV and prepare to relax. The “off-season” schedule features craft and quilting retreats, a family catfish tournament, and more.

111 Years of Camp Ministry

Bay Shore started in 1911 as an outreach of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, which later joined the Methodist Church to become United Methodist. Today Bay Shore is an independent camp, still affiliated with The United Methodist Church but operating from a non-denominational model. The camp’s mission statement is “to provide an invitation for all people to experience Jesus Christ and to nurture them in their relationship with Him.”

“If you’re looking for a life-changing experience for your child or youth, we’re waiting for you!” Parsons says. “Register today, while spots are still available.

|