Beau and Melinda Graf with children Oliver and Adeline.

Beau Graf began his new job this week as executive director of Camp Living Waters in Luther, Mich. Beau has served many years in Christian camping and is very excited to lead the staff and ministry at CLW.

Beau and his wife, Melinda, have two children: Oliver (5) and Adeline (3).

The Grafs are looking forward to riding their mountain bikes over the many miles of trails that surround CLW and enjoying the legendary tranquility and big night skies that characterize Camp Living Waters. Also, they are very excited to be about the work of serving and loving others so that they may know and grow in Jesus Christ.

Camp Living Waters in Luther, Mich., is currently taking applications and beginning interviews for summer staff. This would include cabin leaders, plus workers for the kitchen, office, and maintenance. Preferred age is at least one year out of high school. For more detailed job description and applications, visit the Camp Living Waters website. You can also contact the camp by email or call 231-797-5107.

Bishop Phil Whipple at the UB National Office in Huntington with the camp directors. L-r: Bishop Whipple, Chad and Dana Toelke, Brad North, Scott Stephens, and Angela Monn. Scott Stephens.

Bishop Phil Whipple at the UB National Office in Huntington with the camp directors. L-r: Bishop Whipple, Chad and Dana Toelke, Brad North, Scott Stephens, and Angela Monn. Scott Stephens.

Phil Whipple, Bishop

On September 17, I met in Huntington with the directors of four camps.

  • Scott Stephens, fulltime director of Camp Cotubic (Bellefontaine, Ohio) since the beginning of 2014.
  • Angela Monn, fulltime director of Rhodes Grove Camp (Chambersburg, Pa.) since 2009.
  • Brad North, fulltime director of Camp Living Waters (Luther, Mich.). He’s been a camp director for 18 years, but is new to Living Waters this year.
  • Chad and Dana Toelke, from the Coleta UB church in Illinois, who direct the three summer camps at Camp Adeline (Adeline, Ill.). They raise some of their own support and live on the campground.

Until 2005, these camps were owned and operated by United Brethren regional conferences. However, in 2005 we disbanded those conferences and let the camps reorganize as independent entities, no longer under United Brethren ownership or sponsorship. The camps have continued doing well.

But I had some concerns—that perhaps we, as a denomination, could do more to help minimize some risks they might face.

These thoughts were actually prompted over a year ago when we were interviewing candidates for the presidency of Huntington University. I asked Dr. Sherilyn Emberton how she felt about the university being connected to a denomination. She said she wanted that connection. She felt that in the future, some government pressure might fall on independent schools that lack a definite denominational connection. They might be challenged, “You say you’re faith-based. Show us your connection.” She saw value in being connected to a denomination that’s been around for over 200 years.

That made me wonder, Had we put our camps at the same risk? Would it be helpful if they had some kind of formal connection to the denomination?

So I invited the camp directors to come to the National Office. There were three main areas I wanted us to address, and I was pleased with our discussions.

Connections with the Denomination
We no longer own the camps, and don’t want to be owners. When we disbanded the conferences in 2005, there was no intent to harm the camps. They just needed to reorganize themselves as independent camps, separate from the denomination.

However, this may have also put them at risk. The State of Ohio has told Camp Cotubic that they are not a faith-based organization. Rather, the state views them as a children’s camp. Scott Stephens told me they just settled for $26,000 in back taxes—an amount which originally exceeded $70,000. They struggled to show that they were a faith-based group.

Rhodes Grove Camp in Pennsylvania, on the other hand, entered into a covenant with United Brethren churches when Mid-Atlantic Conference disbanded in 2005. The covenant explains what the camp does, says a majority of the board members will be United Brethren members, and sets forth some agreements concerning what the camp and churches will do to maintain their relationship.

This covenant is signed every so many years. I just signed the covenant. Ron Ramsey signed the previous one.

We gave copies of the covenant to the other camp directors, as an example of a document that will show a clear connection to an ecclesiastical body of churches. They’ll take that document to their boards.

Connections with Huntington University
There has been a fairly big disconnect between the camps and our college. For instance, more could be done to recruit HU students as camp counselors and for other roles. Camp Cotubic sees 3500 students a year come through. If college students from your university interact with your church’s high school students, they’ll have an impact. There’s an openness to see that reconnection happen.

We spent about an hour with Dr. Emberton, talking through what can mutually benefit the camps. Lots of ideas were tossed around. Professor Lance Clark, in the Digital Media Arts department, talked to us about a videographer going to the camp. Some camps already produce a video for the week and give it to campers as a keepsake. We talked about PRIME experiences for ministry students that can happen at camps. There was talk about the soccer team doing a camp, and about a January Term class being hosted at a camp. So a lot of options are being considered.

Early in the second semester, the plan is to have the camp directors come back to share with students summer opportunities at the camps.

Connections with Other Camp Directors
Finally, I wanted these camp directors to get acquainted. None of them already knew each other. They may have heard of the other camps, but hadn’t met. They now plan to meet once a year, probably rotating among the different camps so they can see what the other camps are like and what they are doing.

Although these camps are no longer owned by the United Brethren church, UB churches are still their strongest supporters. That hasn’t changed. We believe in what camps can do in making an impact on a student’s life.

At Rhodes Grove Camp.

The equestrian program at Rhodes Grove Camp.

At Rhodes Grove Camp.

At Rhodes Grove Camp.

Angela Monn

Angela Monn

Steve Dennie, Director of Communications

All of the year-round United Brethren camps became independent entities after 2005, when we went through a denominational reorganization and discontinued the regional conferences. Rhodes Grove Camp in Chambersburg, Pa., has probably done the best job of maintaining close relationships with United Brethren churches. Partly, that’s because so many UB churches are located nearby—about 15 UB churches within 15-20 miles. None of the other camps share that advantage.

“We are centrally located among them,” says Angela Monn, director of Rhodes Grove Camp. “A lot of history for them is located on these grounds.”

Angela began working for Rhodes Grove in 2006 as Conference Ministry Director. That involved managing all of the guest services and helping guest groups plan their experience at the camp. In 2009, she was named executive director.

Angela is very intentional in keeping United Brethren churches in the loop about what is happening at Rhodes Grove and, of course, inviting them to be part of the camp’s ministry. She estimates that 70-80% of the summer youth campers come from United Brethren churches. Ministry from the summer of 2014 yielded 112 first-time decisions for Christ, 215 rededications, and 50 baptisms.

In 2017, Rhodes Grove will celebrate its 100th anniversary. As a lead-up to that milestone, the camp launched a major capital campaign.

The campaign uses the theme of “advancing tabernacle faith.” The focal point of the camp for 90 years was the big white tabernacle. This historic building became structurally unsound and had to be torn down in 2005. But its memory lingers.

“The tabernacle was a very important structure to many folks,” Angela says. “So many spiritual decisions happened within that building–commitments to Christ, commitments to advancing the kingdom, commitments to pastoral ministry and missionary service. Spiritual commitments too numerous to count.

“It was necessary for that building to come down, because it was unsafe and not cost-effective to repair. But it caused a lot of pain for a lot of people to see the tabernacle go away.

“We want to share that the tabernacle wasn’t a destination. Tabernacle faith is a journey. When the Israelites moved around in the Wilderness, the tabernacle went with them.

“Here at Rhodes Grove, the presence of the Lord is still here. We recognize the many great things that happened under that tabernacle roof, but the ministry of Rhodes Grove Camp continues. Lives are still being changed. The Kingdom is still being advanced. All of the same things are happening, just not in that building.”

The capital campaign will position the camp for future ministry. There are several parts.

The first part is debt elimination. The camp carries a debt of $684,000 on the Miller Lodge, which was built in 2001. Erasing that debt will free up $44,000 a year for other ministries.

They also want to become a spiritual life center, which can take in a number of ideas and ministries. One of them involves providing pastoral mentoring and a getaway for ministers and spouses.

Finally, they plan to expand the popular equestrian program. They currently provide four weeks of equestrian camp (four one-week camps) during the summer. This year’s camps were maxed out by April 1. They want to improve the facilities to serve more youth and provide year-round equestrian opportunities. They’ll initially expand the ministry for able-bodied riders. But on down the road, Angela envisions adding therapeutic options for persons with mental or physical disabilities.

The 2014 camp season began Memorial Day weekend with family camp. Rhodes Grove has 38 RV sites, plus hotel rooms and cabins. Training for the summer staff began after family camp, and the first camp began June 15. They held 12 camps during a five-week period.

They also do day camps and high adventure camps during which they take kids to the Pittsburgh area for white-water rafting. In 2013 they launched a paintball camp, which had a tremendous response.

Angela came to the Chambersburg, Pa., area to attend Wilson College. She and her husband, Bill, met there. They now have two teenage sons.

Angela’s background is in accounting and business management. She describes herself as a “spiritual mutt.” She attended a Christian school through fourth grade. “I learned to love the Lord very early as a youngster based on the influence of the teachers and mentors at that school.”

Over the years she has attended Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, and other churches—“a myriad of foundational teachings,” she says. Her family currently attends the nearby Antrim Brethren in Christ church.

“For me, it’s more about my relationship with Christ,” she says. “I love the Lord.”

Camp Cotubic will hold its annual winter banquet on Saturday, January 19, at New Horizon’s UB church in Rockford, Ohio. Time: 6 pm. You can make reservations here. You can make reservations by calling the camp office at: 937-4698-2519.

The 2013 summer camps are:

June 9-14: Teen Challenge camp (grades 7-12).
June 23-28: Discovery Camp (grades 5-6).
June 14-18: Voyager camp (grades 2-4).

People can register for camps here.

Chad Sexton, Executive Director, Camp Living Waters (Luther, Mich.)

This has been an amazing year at Camp Living Waters. We have served over 2,450 people year-to-date. This summer, 48 campers made commitments to Jesus Christ, and many other lives were changed through our retreat season. Ministry is happening at camp almost every weekend. Thanksgiving was the first weekend in 31 weeks that we did not have a group here at some point during the weekend. Praise God that He is bringing people to Camp Living Waters.

We continue to serve with minimal staff and many volunteers. We currently have 2 fulltime staff and 2 interns in our Camp Ministry Apprentice Program. We have been blessed with thousands of hours of volunteer help. Many groups are coming to camp to complete projects that need to be done, and are helping provide the needed funds to complete the project.

  • We moved and improved the Camp Store.
  • Renovation to cabin row has been started.
  • The Health office has been given a face lift with new paint and flooring.
  • The prayer garden has been moved along the shoreline of Stewart Lake with great views and serene settings for spending time with God.
  • The barn has a petting farm, a new riding arena, and a tack room that is insulated and protected from the elements.
  • Volunteers have been working on the framing, the fire suppression system, and the heating for Colston Lodge, with many more people wanting to get involved as their skills are needed.

Volunteers are very encouraging and uplifting to us. We know we can’t do it without you.

As we grow and serve more people, our expenses have grown as well. Giving has been down this year, and we are looking at about a $30,000 shortfall. The last few years we have been blessed with a surplus at the end of the year that helped us bridge the gap over the next few months when heating costs are higher and we have less people to serve. We are working hard to bring more people to camp in January and February.

We know that God has a plan and will meet the needs of Camp Living Waters. People’s lives are being changed for eternity and others are finding spiritual renewal here.

Camp Director Dave Stephens (left) and Program Director Scott Stephens.

Dave Stephens, director of Camp Cotubic (Bellefontaine, Ohio), wrote on November 22:

“Just yesterday we sent the kids home from the last of our retreats and camps for 2011. It was an amazing year. As the kids stood in a circle with their arms around each other, we prayed for their continued growth and God’s blessings on them. It was a very precious moment.

“It also reminded Scott and me of what we do here at Cotubic and why we do it. We were blessed once again this past year with a “bumper crop” of kids. So at Thanksgiving time, when our founding fathers designated this day to give thanks to God for their crops, we are giving thanks for our crops, the kids.

“This is also the time of the year then that we begin to focus our attention on the coming camping season. There is much to do this winter to prepare the facility, program, staff, etc. for the thousands of kids that will come in 2012.”

A few items he mentioned:

  • Saturday, January 21, 2012: A fundraising banquet will be held at Praise Point UB church in Willshire, Ohio. Time: 6 pm. The event includes a meal and a program by the kids, camp staff, and board. Reservations are needed.
  • Remodeling is now completed the interiors of two of the six cabins. They hope to begin working on another cabin soon. “Hopefully by next summer the cabins will have an entire new metal look on the outside.”
  • The water slide that served our kids for well over 25 years has been removed to make room for the new slides donated by the Zanesville UB Church. There is much site work to be done this winter. Several more trees and lots of brush need to be removed. Many loads of sand will be hauled in before we begin to install the new slides. This is going to be a major improvement for the kids.

2012 Summer Camp Dates

June 10-16: Teen Challenge Camp (grades 7-12 completed)
June 24-29: Discovery Campo (grades 5-6 completed)
July 15-19: Voyager Camp (grades 2-4 completed)

Registration will be available on the camp’s website.

The 6th Annual Tom Ponsot Memorial Classic Golf Tournament will be held on September 11, 2010, at the Clear Creak Golf Course near Huntington, Ind. The proceed go to support Camp Cotubic in Bellefontaine, Ohio.

Many of us have fond memories of attending summer camp while we were growing up. Friendships were formed, knees were skinned, challenges were conquered, life-long lessons were learned, and most of all, many were introduced to Jesus. Now that we are older, we are glad such places still exist for our kids and grandkids.

Camp Cotubic is one such place, and it held a special place in the heart of Tom Ponsot, a member of our Zanesville, Ind., church who passed away in 2005. Tom saw the great potential of Camp Cotubic and volunteered his time and financial resources to preserve it as a place where his own grandkids and many other children could continue to have summer camp experiences. Tom served as the Chairman of the Board for several years and was passionate about the camp’s ministry.

You can help in two ways:

* Enter a Team. Find three other friends and enter a team. The cost is $50/person and includes greens fees, cart, and lunch. You can register by sending your name to
* Be a Sponsor. Your business, church, affinity group or you can sponsor a hole for $100.

To enter, or for more information, Ponsot-Golf-2011.

We previously mentioned that the former UB camp in Hillsdale, Mich., the Michindoh Camp and Conference Center, has been gifted to Spring Arbor University in Michigan. It is dated June 1, so it’s somewhat old news at this point, but you may be interested.
Follow the link below for the text of the press release.