By Tiffany Vail
The Rev. David Camphouse, a Methodist pastor with 30 years of camp leadership experience, has been hired as the new Director of Outdoor Ministries of the Silver Like Camp & Retreat Center. He will begin Jan. 1st.
“Silver Lake is in incredibly capable hands with Rev. David Camphouse, who brings a loving spirit of non-anxious presence, clear commitment to camping professionalism and desire to be part of our community. I am looking forward to working with him more closely to build a future for the youth, young adults, and volunteers at Silver Lake Camp and Retreat Center,” said the Rev. Chris Davies, Executive Minister for Programs and Initiatives.
“I also offer so much gratitude to the search committee and all those who contributed via the Listening Sessions to help make this choice. Rev. David's hire is truly representative of so many of our collective hopes for Silver Lake, and we are thrilled to actualize them alongside him. Look for an opportunity to digitally ‘meet’ him come 2023, and be sure to introduce yourself to him at the Lake this summer!” she said.
Rev. Camphouse sums up his feelings about outdoor ministry this way: “Safe. Friends. Faith. Self-determination. Love. Leadership. Listening. Accountability. God. Hope. Adventure. Reflection. Compassion. Home. Through 40 years of participating in camp, and 30 years of camp leadership these words represent what camp means to me.”
“I went to camp for the first time as a camper at about 6 months old and just kept going. When I was 6, I heard my call to camp and retreat ministry. As that sense of where God was leading developed, I began life in ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church, where I have served as a pastor for the last 25 years, in churches in Alabama, California, and Georgia,” he said.
“Camping has been an integral part of my life. I have led camp as a counselor in leadership training (CILT), counselor, day camp director, regional director, board member, volunteer, and more. Through the years my tenure in camp took me to 5 states, and service in more than a dozen camps of varying offerings,” he said. “I am an experienced leader of day camps, service camps, age level camps, and church retreats. I received certification in camp and retreat ministry at Drew University in 2002, adding certifications and education as a Professional in Human Resources and Business Administration and Management. These certifications were in addition to my undergraduate and seminary work, better equipping me for the work of Camp Director. And camp keeps calling.”
Rev. Camphouse stood out as the right candidate to the search committee, which included multiple generations of Silver Lake campers and which had early input from a representative of the Silver Lake advisory board. The committee members were: Chelsea Kordiak, Rev. Chris Mereschuk, Valerie Tutson, Rev. Lynne Dolan (representing the SNEUCC Board of Directors) and staff members Rev. Chris Davies and Kate Ostertag.
“I was impressed by David's clear calling to outdoor ministry, and his understanding and experience of all the parts it takes to manage a camp,” said Tutson, a long-time Silver Laker. “I got the sense that his faithful core guides him in his work and his ability to work with people and challenges that will undoubtably arise. He asked good questions, handled a technical glitch with creativity, humor and grace. He truly seems ready to take on this role. I am excited to welcome him and his family to our Silver Lake community.”
Ostertag, Director of Outdoor Ministries for Edwards House and Irons Homestead, said Rev. Camphouse “clearly articulated his experience and qualifications for the role of Director of Outdoor Ministries for Silver Lake. His calm and pastoral presence coupled with his inquisitive engagement with staff, alumni and leadership really highlighted what a great fit he will be serving in this role. We are blessed!”
And Rev. Dolan added: “We are thrilled to welcome David to lead this pivotal ministry. He demonstrates a deep love and affection for camping ministry. He brings an ecumenical perspective and a wealth of both knowledge and experience having shepherded camping opportunities in his role as a local pastor. He has served for many years in all facets of camp life and it is this deep reserve of passion and experience that will serve him well as he becomes the director. From our interactions with David, I anticipate this deep appreciation to infuse both his leadership and interactions with staff, campers, their families and the folks in the local church who also share this love for Silver Lake Conference and Retreat Center.”
In a message to the Silver Lake community, Rev. Camphouse writes: “My dream job since I was 6 was to be able to live and work on camp year-round. Silver Lake Camp and Retreat Center is that dream come to life. Those words hold true. I am especially looking forward to the work of camp expressed through Silver Lake where we are living into a country, world and society in which all persons, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, and other matters of identity are no longer causes for division, but celebrated for the richness of experience each person brings to community."
“Now that I have shared a little about myself, I want to know about you. Camp is to be lived and experienced in community. I am blessed that you all have invited me to be part of your community in this way at this time.
“I come with some communities of my own, most especially my family. My wife, Anna, our kids Sophia, our twins Paul and John, and our German Shepherd Tessa will be living with me at the camp. I hope that they too will be welcomed with the love and compassion the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ, Silver Lake Camp and Retreat Center, and the many staff and supporters of these communities.
“My story is only one expression of the power of the camp experience. I look forward to sharing together what camp is and can be for many years to come.”
Tiffany Vail is the Director of Media & Communications for the Southern New England Conference.