Camp Tanako provides a time and place for children and youth to retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, reconnect with old friends, make new friends, open themselves to God in new ways through community with nature and others, and have the time of their lives. We emphasize extending Christian hospitality to each other and practice living in accordance with the Fruits of the Spirit. This year, Peace Works is the theme for each week. We worship and discuss in small groups around this topic, but we also look for teachable moments throughout the day to incorporate lessons learned from stories in the theme.
Peace Works is about welcoming campers in the hospitable spirit of aloha and invites them to find their place at the table of the parable of the Great Banquet. Then we celebrate our covenant community by exploring ubuntu and what it means to be part of the Body of Christ.
As the community grows closer, they will name the reality of conflict, as stories of Jacob and Esau remind us of our ability to contribute both to conflict and peacemaking. Shalom calls us out of conflict, to find peace with God and each other. Jesus shows us what God’s agape love looks like and how it reconciles us to God, even when we are unaware or do not fully understand. We try to model the vulnerable love and humble service of Jesus, demonstrated in washing the disciples’ feet, as we seek peace with others.
The Japanese concept of heiwa invites us to also look within as we work for peace, putting harmony over competition to find peace within our own hearts. Balancing our love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self is not easy, but it is at the core of Christian living. As we prepare to leave camp, we revisit the concept of aloha, and receive Jesus’ benediction and promise of peace that will remain with us always. We remember that the same Spirit that welcomed us, has dwelt with us, and now sends and accompanies us in our peace works at home.
Mini camp is a perfect chance for young elementary campers to try their first overnight experience. This 2-night / 3-day camp is designed for rising 1st-3rd graders. From the time they arrive until they are picked up, there is a whirlwind of camp activities, fun, and new things to try that help them develop and build self-confidence. And most importantly, camp gives children time to experience God through nature, worship together, and practice living in Christian community.
Arkansas is an amazingly beautiful place. Adventure camp serves to showcase some spectacular chapters of creation while giving campers an opportunity to be adventurous and try something new and challenging.
This year, we will be going on a Wild Cave tour at Blanchard Springs Cavern near Mountain View. The cave tour lasts about 3-4 hours and is fairly strenuous, but amazing cave formations and other wonders make it worthwhile. When we’re above ground, we’ll camp in the park, hike some of the trails, and fish for trout in Mirror Lake. This camp is for 7th-9th graders.
Discovery camp is a 3 day/4 night camp designed for campers going into 1st-4th grades. It’s perfect for younger campers who are ready to spend an extra night at camp, but also for campers old enough for elementary camp who may not be ready to spend a week away from home. Each day campers will participate in worship, games, family group activities like daily Bible studies, archery, kayaking, nature hikes, and more.
Jr. High camp is a 6 day/5 night camp for raising 7th-9th graders. Jr. High camp is structured similarly to Elementary, but with a few different challenging, age-appropriate activities. Jr. High also has the option for Outpost and horseback riding.
Hammett Evans from Monticello is writing the curriculum for Sr. High camp themed around Stranger Things.
This is a camp designed for campers interested in music, theater, and the arts. Campers will work all week putting together an original production, building sets, and performing for parents and staff at the end of the camp session.
We fish most weeks during the summer, but this weekend camp is all about fishing. The Arkansas Game and Fish stocks hundreds of catchable catfish into an enclosed area on our part of Lake Catherine. Campers will need to bring a quality fishing pole and reel, tackle and bait will be provided. After fishing camp, the catfish are released into Lake Catherine.
Elementary Camp is a 6 day/5 night camp for raising 3rd – 6th graders. Campers spend the week in family groups worshiping, doing daily Bible studies, and participating in all the favorite games and activities. Elementary campers also have the options to cook dinner over a campfire and sleep in a hammock for one night at Outpost and/or go horseback riding one afternoon. The emphasis remains on experiencing God through nature and community while practicing faithful living.
Confirmation is an important step in the spiritual journey of United Methodists, and Camp Tanako is hoping to give more young adults the opportunity to go through confirmation thanks to their Confirmation Camp weekends.
“Confirmation Camp began as a response to conversations that I was having with pastors throughout the Arkansas Conference who were having trouble doing confirmation at their churches,” said Kim Carter, Director of Camp Tanako.
The weekend camp came about in 2016 as a resource for small membership churches who didn’t have the time, resources or enough people to undergo confirmations at their churches.
The three-day experience will take place twice in early 2019. The first camp is Feb. 8 – 10 and the second camp is April 5 – 7.
The age in which a young adult goes through confirmation varies from congregation to congregation, but typically kids will go through the process somewhere between the 5th and 7th grade.
Confirmation classes focus on understanding the Trinity and what it means to be a United Methodist. The process of confirmation is closely linked to baptism in the church, and although confirmation is not a sacrament in the United Methodist Church, it is an essential step in a church members’ spiritual journey after baptism.
During the Confirmation Camp weekend, campers will experience a variety of sessions that cover every aspect of confirmation in the United Methodist Church. Topics covered include: “What is Confirmation,” God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit/Trinity, John Wesley, sacraments, and vows.
Various Arkansas Conference employees will lead sessions. So far, that list of leaders includes Youth and Young Adult Ministries Coordinator Michelle Moore, Lead Equipper for the Center for Vitality Michelle Morris, Children’s Ministry Coordinator Melinda Shunk, Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Connectional Ministry Jim Polk, and Conway First UMC Pastor Zack Schrick.
“As an extension of the Conference, the Camping/Retreat Ministries goal is to help local churches meet the trajectory set forth by the Conference, and confirmation is a vital part of what it means to be a United Methodist,” Carter said.
After the weekend is over, confirmands will be sent home with lessons to discuss with parents and local pastors. The take-home lessons cover topics beyond confirmation, such as creeds, the Bible, prayer, service/mission outreach, and heritage and history of the church.
Campers will also get a chance to worship together each evening before heading back to their cabins.
Rod Hocott – director of the MIDphyouth ministry at Pulaski Heights UMC and developer of the confirmation camp curriculum – sees the lasting value of confirmation camp for every United Methodist youth.
“To prepare our young people to become United Methodist Christians is one of the most daunting, yet highly rewarding responsibilities we undertake in the area of youth ministry,” Hocott said. “When asked to help develop curriculum for a conference-wide confirmation camp, along with Dee Ann Daniel and Laura Stinnett, I thought what a wonderful idea to make confirmation training available to churches of any size, regardless of the number of confirmands available in any given local church.”
For Carter, there’s nothing else quite like Confirmation Camp.
“The United Methodist Church, at its heart, is connectional, and through camp, we’re able to bring young people and their mentors together from across the state. Confirmation is a coming of age experience that occurs at the right time to instruct young adults before they join the church. It’s a vital part of the life of a local United Methodist Church.”
For more information on Confirmation Camp, visit Camp Tanako’s website. You’ll also find links to register for the April 2019 Confirmation Camp.