Annual Retreat

The 2022 retreat will be November 13-17 at Camp Brethren Woods in Keezletown, Virginia

Check below for information on the Tuesday workshops

Workshops for Tuesday, November 15th.

These workshops will be offered in blocks of 2, so participants have a choice

with William Canter

How do we communicate adventure to parents, churches, staff, and others? Whether you are working on marketing/recruiting material, crisis/emergency plans, or updating staff communication, this workshop will provide information on the fundamentals of communication.

We will discuss how to identify your different target publics to create consistent messaging that connects with each group. We will come together to reflect, share, and create communication plans that will allow us to effectively communicate our mission to our different publics.  

William Canter spent his summers working and volunteering at Brethren Woods. He finished his Ph.D. in Public Communication at Georgia State University this year and is currently an Instructional Designer at the University of Virginia.

with Melinda Norris Mdluli

What does the Bible say about peace? Furthermore, it sounds nice in our mission statements but what does peacebuilding look like in reality? This session will look at the theological justification for peace and nonviolence. It will also give practical tools and resources for engaging people of all ages on the topic. Building peace is the adventure of a lifetime!

Melinda is a former Camp Counselor, Nature Director and outdoor school volunteer at Brethren Woods Camp. She holds a B.A. in Peacebuilding and Development from Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) and currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa with her family.

Diversity and Equity in the Camp Setting: Making the Case for Instructional Training 
with Abigail Parker

This session focuses on our calling to create safe learning environments for children to explore, share, and learn. We will discuss types of diversity represented in our camp settings, as well as what research has shown in regards to potential benefits of providing a variety of experiences. Resources on developmental stages and instructional “tips” will be included. 

Abigail Parker spent several summers during high school and college working at Camp Bethel and continues to volunteer her time at Brethren Woods. She received a Masters of Arts in Education from EMU in 2015 and continues to enjoy learning how to be a better educator.

Leave No Trace Awareness Workshop for Camp Staff and Outdoor Educators
with Daniel Hippe

America’s parks and public lands have often been referred to “America’s Best Idea”. The Leave No Trace Principles have come together as an approach to explore the outdoors while assuring that they will inspire awe, enjoyment and positive memories for users far into the future. We’ll explore the 7 principles and thought provoking and fun ways to develop an outdoor ethic with youth, including scouts, campers and students.

Dan Hippe has enjoyed a rich career in public service, scouting and enjoyment of the outdoors. Recently retired, Dan is an ‘all in’ volunteer with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC), maintaining trails, engaging the Appalachian Trail hiker community and sharing his enjoyment of the outdoors with youth of all ages.

Some Leadership Refreshers: shared purpose, building trust, and toxic combos
with Lester Zook

Come to be refreshed in some leadership basics; then converse and brainstorm with colleagues about how these dynamics have been operative, or might take on renewed meaning in your particular setting.  

Lester has been leading wilderness adventures and training camping leaders for over 30 years. He served as director of the Outdoor Ministry program at Eastern Mennonite University, and he loves to take people outdoors!

Exploring Nature
with Tom Holland

Join Tom on a nature walk through the Virginia forests of Brethren Woods and learn from his experience of working for the Forest Service for multiple decades

Tom worked for the Forest Service for many years and has worked at Brethren Woods as Nature Director and Maintenance Assistant in previous summers.

Silly Songs
with Barry (LeNoir)

With 21 years of experience under his belt and a guitar in his hands, there’s few camp songs Barry doesn’t know. He’s preparing to share his wealth of knowledge (his words) about camps songs with you. However, you might want to come prepared with a song or two of your own, he might just pull you on stage and have you lead your song.

Barry LeNoir served as the Camp Director at Camp Bethel in Fincastle, VA (Virlina District) from August 2002 through July 2023. Barry served on the OMA Steering Committee from 2004-2010, and he received the OMA Camp Staff Award in 2011.

Emergency Preparedness
with Maile Armstrong

How will your staff respond to emergencies large or small? This session reviews basics on creating & rehearsing emergency procedures. Bring your camp’s emergency procedures and be prepared to discuss responses-what goes right and what goes wrong and learn how you can plan for the next time.

Maile S. Armstrong has worked in a variety of camp and business positions including director of youth camps since 1975. She has been responsible for planning and providing training sessions for camp, church, program centers staff, and volunteers.

Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences with Sharon Urum and Megan Gordon

Early Childhood Adversity can result in lifelong behavioral, social and physical outcomes for an individual. If children/youth are able to form strong healthy connections with caring adults, this can result in creating a level of protection against these outcomes. During this training, we will look at 1) the impact of childhood trauma and toxic stress on brain development, 2) The Adverse Childhood Experiences study that links childhood trauma to a wide variety of health outcomes and 3) what we can begin doing to help build more resilient communities.

Shannon Urum graduated with her Bachelor of Social Work Degree in 2001. She has over 12 years of experience in Prevention and Wellness, with a focus on preventing substance misuse, problem gambling/gaming and suicide as well as promoting mental health/wellness. She is the current Prevention and Wellness Services Coordinator at Northwestern Community Services Board and is a Certified Mental Health First Aid Trainer, REVIVE trainer and ACES interface trainer.

Megan Gordon graduated from Bridgewater College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science in 1999.  She has worked as the Program Director of Page Alliance for Community Action (PACA) for the past seven years.  She works with parents, youth, school, and community partners to improve the social-emotional health of the youth in Page County and works to keep them substance free.  She is a certified ACES interface trainer.  Megan and her husband Buck live in Page County with their three children: Kate, Tristan, and Maddie.