Quick Links

Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Main Navigation



Home > breadcrumbs: About Us > breadcrumbs: Blog >


Ajax Loading Image


Camp can be life-changing by Jenna Liechty Martin

May 09, 2024

Summer camps are almost here with only a short month before the staff shows up for orientation.  Jenna Liechty Martin, executive director at Camp Friedenswald, shared these thoughts about how a camp experience can be life-changing.  Have a quick read for a reminder of how God is at work at camp.  See you in a few weeks!  (Not registered?  Click here.)

Original Article: https://www.mennoniteusa.org/menno-snapshots/camp-can-be-life-changing/ 

Camp can be life-changing

Jenna Liechty Martin identifies what makes camp such a special place for faith formation.

This post is part of Mennonite Church USA’ Follow Jesus series, which highlights how individuals, congregations, conferences and organizations are living into discipleship today.

Jenna Liechty Martin lives and works at Camp Friedenswald, in Cassopolis, Michigan, where she has served as the executive director for ten years. She is a member of Eighth Street Mennonite Church, in Goshen, Indiana.


At a recent MC USA Constituency Leaders Council meeting, I had the privilege of reflecting on the ways that Camp Friedenswald, in Cassopolis, Michigan, tends to faith formation. With over 80% of our summer campers coming from Mennonite congregations, we recognize that camp is but one place where faith formation occurs. Camp is part of the ecology of faith formation that involves congregations and families  — and often other spaces and people.

Faith is formed within the context of camp in a variety of ways. It’s a place that is unplugged and disconnected from screens, including social media and the constant pull toward artificial connection. At camp, our daily routines are punctuated by moments of faith practices. From morning watch, to mealtime graces to evening campfire, our days together are held by rituals that point us toward faith. A week at camp holds honest, and enfleshed, face-to-face encounters with others in community. Camp is a place where many people experience a true sense of welcome and belonging.

And, finally, camp is a place where our connection to and interconnectedness with all creation can be experienced and felt through time spent in nature.

The impact of these formative experiences is reflected in an email I received from a long-time supporter, former board member and former staff member, Kevin Nickel. At the beginning of last summer, Kevin reached out with these words that so poignantly and accurately sum up the life-changing and transformative experiences that happen at camp. I share it here as a reflection on the ways that God is at work in and through Camp Friedenswald.

I know I mentioned this, probably several times, but I feel it is worth repeating again

Yesterday, 10 youths were baptized at First Mennonite Church in Bluffton, Ohio. Nine of the 10 are regular attendees at Camp Friedenswald, and the other has strong family connections to camp, and I think just about all of them mentioned the importance of Camp Friedenswald in their faith journey statements and their decision to be baptized. For some, it was an experience in nature. Others recalled a conversation with a counselor. For some, it was friendships and conversations with other campers, and others mentioned the space to be alone, without distractions, to calm their minds and think.

I think of this as the camp magic — the ability of staff and the environment to meet campers where they are and to provide what is needed in that moment. In reality, it is God at work, through the staff, facilities and creation, that creates such important, special experiences that have such a significant impact in the lives of campers that they identify them as such a meaningful portion of their faith development and their decision to be baptized.

Thank you to you, and all the permanent and summer staff, who give so much time and energy, so that these types of life-giving experiences continue to happen for each generation of campers.

Kevin Nickel

The Mennonite Camping Association is a network of camping ministries from across the Mennonite/Anabaptist faith tradition. To find a camp near you, visit https://www.mennonitecamping.org/.

Related Sites

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window. External pages are not endorsed by Camp Mennoscah.

Back To Top