Nelvie Howard composes the posts on Instagram and Facebook. Daily Nelvie posts stories about Kingswood that appear on both platforms. These inspirational messages and memories exist for 24 hours. The posts to the feed are created three times per week and can be viewed at your convenience. Weekly the Friday post focuses on a volunteer. If you haven’t followed us, yet please do and enjoy the work Nelvie does. Nelvie is passionate about telling the Kingswood story through photos and text.
Nelvie and her husband, James, and children first came to Kingswood when their son, CJ, was invited to camp with Stephanie Millien and her boys. Not quite able to let him go that far away, they decided to tag along. They’ve been coming ever since, enjoying the peaceful sites in upper camp. It’s a dramatic change from their home on Long Island.
Nelvie, James, CJ and Alyssa camp with perks. Their beds are covered with mosquito nets, and there are mats on the floor.. Their tent and shelter are lit with battery operated string lights. The meals are gourmet. They enjoy movies projected from a phone onto a screen fashioned from a sheet hung from the shelter. The food is abundant. Games, food and fun last well into the night.
James and Alyssa have helped out as lifeguards. Nelvie completed the other part of the job, cleaning the Oasis. Nelvie found that job rewarding, especially when done late at night when the rest of the camp was asleep. CJ has brought along a group of friends to enjoy the camping life.
If you have any photos you think should be featured on social media, please forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org. They will be added to our folder of photos. You may also tag us.
This recipe makes four pizza pockets. Just increase ingredients for more pizzas! There are lots of ways you can vary the recipe to meet your tastes.
8 slices of bread
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
Start fire or charcoal.
Grease inside of both sides of the pie iron with butter, oil, or nonstick cooking spray.
Place slice of bread on one side of pie iron. Add 2 tablespoons of sauce, a sprinkle of shredded cheese, and four pepperonis. Cover with another slice of bread.
Close and latch the pie iron.
Place pie iron over hot coals or embers. Turn after 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Open iron and check for golden, crispy crust.
Once pizza is done, pop it out and enjoy!
June 27, 1927 – September 8, 2023
On Friday, September 8th, Carl Yettru, a beloved Kingswood volunteer and camper patriarch passed away peacefully surrounded by his cherished family and went Home where his life-long Faith had led him.
Born in 1927, Carl’s 96 years were well lived, full of grace, love and centered on faith, family and service. For over 50 years, Carl and his devoted wife Vivian of 68 years resided in Cornwall, NY where they raised sons Eric, Jon and Peter and attended Cornwall UMC. Carl was a pillar of the church and town raising his tenor voice in choir (and about community matters). For over 30 years, Carl taught English to junior high schoolers.
It was from Cornwall UMC where the Yettrus first learned of Kingswood. Carl and Viv came to camp with their three young sons in the family VW bus in the late 1960s. The story has been shared often that the bus never moved from where it was parked their first summer camping after they found that walking to the lake for swimming, boating and to the barn was possible and preferable.
After returning to camp for several summers, friends recommended the Yettrus become managers. Carl exemplified Kingswood’s volunteer service and ministry in so many ways. Years before there was a dedicated Program Director apart from the managers, Carl and Viv not only registered and welcomed campers, handled incoming reservations, managed store sales, and oversaw all site maintenance duties (including garbage runs!), but would also plan and lead nature hikes, campfires and worship services. They managed for 14 years and no doubt welcomed program directors and lifeguards who would take over some of the duties in later years. One task, though, tested the normally patient and unflappable Carl (as well as all managers, particularly pre-computers) – the dreaded “balancing of the books” report. The report was no small task and was complete with a tin lunchbox and numerous white envelopes for petty cash, ice, store money, ice cream money, registration fees, day visit fees, and more. Still, Carl always ended up smiling and grateful when the numbers equaled out.
When not at Kingswood to manage or work, Carl and Viv also returned as campers each summer, first with their sons and friends and then with their expanding family that eventually included five granddaughters. Camping at Kingswood, especially when the 3rd generation began, became a most treasured week for Carl; he delighted in spending this yearly tradition time with his family. Cassie Yettru shares, “My grandparents made it special every year and my cousins and I always looked forward to walking the Prayer Trail and Jungle Pass, swimming at the pond, playing in the barn, making crafts and so much more.” Of all her “countless wonderful memories,” Cassie’s favorite is playing Telephone around the campfire as everyone would be hysterically laughing in no time. “I’m so grateful to my grandparents for bringing our family to Kingswood every year and look forward to bringing my family there one day, too.”
Carl’s granddaughters Molly, Hayley, Cassie, Chloe and Abby have already discussed continuing their “Papa’s” legacy of family camp time next summer. From what they’ve shared, they’re eager to introduce Kingswood to the 4th generation, which already includes two great-grandsons and one great-granddaughter. Thanks to the guidance of Viv (their grandma!), they know that they must wait until after January 1st to make reservations for 2024!
Carl enjoyed making s’mores, singing songs around the campfire, worship services, and impromptu barn concerts singing tenor parts when he was there playing games or working on puzzles. And when Stone Ministry began, Carl loved making that program part of the family’s week’s activities.
In addition to managing, Carl and Vivian were members of the Kingswood Site Committee and regulars at the Set Up and Take Down weekends and inaugural Senior Weeks. Karen Taylor remembers Carl always being a calm presence during meetings with a dry sense of humor. “He would listen to what was being said and add a short sentence that was the essence of what was being said.” Jenn Taylor Paolella remembered Carl’s “love for people and nature was beautiful. He was a treasure to Kingswood and all the other volunteers there.” Indeed, Carl was known for his gentle nature, twinkling eyes and hearty laugh, witty remarks, grateful attitude and his warmth in welcoming all. People were always at ease around Carl. He’d welcome all new volunteers with his smile and conversation and have even the most nervous first timers feeling as though they had always belonged.
During his funeral service held on September 13th at New Paltz UMC, the minister, Carl’s sons and others shared stories of Carl’s legacy of love and how he put his love and faith into action and adventure: family trips across the country; family vacation weeks and volunteer times at Kingswood; and volunteering as an EMT and “aspiring carpenter” for Newburgh Habitat for Humanity and mission trips to Bolivia and Mississippi.
All who knew and saw Carl Yettru live his life knew him to be a Christian by his love. Carl Yettru’s legacy of love, faith, family, friends and service will be long remembered by all those he touched at Kingswood and everywhere else as he lived this verse from 2 Corinthians 5:6 “Walk by faith, not by sight.”
Thank you, Carl — you will be missed.
Written by Geri Mariano and Cassie Yettru
brother, friend, mentor, teacher, host, manager, volunteer, and so much more
“Don Kirby was a beloved member of St. Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist Church, his spiritual home. He was devoted to the community. But Don was equally committed to the New York Annual Conference, offering his many gifts and graces over the years in a myriad of ways. Don was a longtime champion of The City Society and no one loved the New York Annual Conference camps more than Don, especially Kingswood.
We will be celebrating Don’s life and remembering all the ways he loved God and loved us. We invite you to join us Saturday, September 30th at 3pm, either in the sanctuary at St. Paul & St. Andrew (263 W. 86th Street in Manhattan) or on the livestream of the service. For those who can join us in the sanctuary, a reception with light refreshments will immediately follow.”
Peace and blessings, Pastors K Karpen and Lea Matthews
“If an obituary were to list the members of his literal, official family it would be a very short list. But the truth is he had and has a very large family – a family of friendship, a family of love, a family of faith, a family of shared work…” -Rev. Jim Moore
Refrain from “Lord, You have Come to the Lakeshore” (Don’s Favorite Hymn)
O Lord, with your eyes you have searched me, and while smiling have spoken my name.
Now my boat’s left on the shoreline behind me. By your side I will seek other seas.
Video of Most of the Kingswood Service
Putting Kingswood “to Bed” for the Season
A small, but mighty group started the process by taking the chuck boxes during Post Camp Work and Fellowship Week.
Followed by the Take Down Crew on the Weekend
Photos from Paving Hathaway Pond Road 2023
Camper Spotlight: Jon Furlong
by Lynn Grainger
As Jon Furlong prepared his contribution for a potluck Saturday night dinner with friends and his exhausted daughters napped in the tent at Maples Left, Jon and I chatted about his connection to Kingswood: present, past and future. I watch Jon carefully craft the little aluminum pans from foil for his vegetable just as “Mr. Food” had in Woodsmoke days. Jon explained that Don Kirby taught him most of what he knows about cooking over the fire.
Jon returned to Kingswood this summer with his wife, Susanna, and two adorable daughters, Adira and Amara. They came for a reunion of fellow Woodsmoke counselors Anthony and Kevin and their families. Most of the upper camp was filled with people who were friends or family of brothers, Kevin Cox Matteson and Chris Cox. The groups of friends swapped around campsites so Anthony Cogswell and his wife and their two young daughters occupied Maples Right. That strategy allows the parents to visit in the area between the tents after the kids are asleep and the kids to have playmates nearby.
Jon is glad to share this beautiful place with his family, though the girls probably won’t remember this particular trip. It seems to be the beginning of a family camping tradition. Their visit to Kingswood was all about adventure and community. It takes a great deal of planning and preparation to get here with two children under 4 for a long weekend. However, it was all worth it to spend time with friends in this lovely place.
Jon’s connection with Kingswood began when he was recruited by Kevin Cox Matteson to be a Woodsmoke counselor. He is grateful to Keving for that invitation that led to many happy memories and to relationships that have endured time. For instance, when he lost his position during the economic downturn in 2009, Don Kirby extended friendship by taking him out for dinner to talk. The friendship with Jon, Kevin and Anthony picks up right where it left off the last time they were together.
Jon plans to get more involved with Kingswood. What that looks like, he’s not yet sure. Plans to camp with Anthony and his children next summer are in the works. But it’s important to him to preserve this place for the future.
Former Woodsmoke Counselors, Current Campers and Forever Friends: Jon Furlong, Kevin Cox Matteson and Anthony Cogswell
Remembering Don Kirby
On Monday, July 10th Don Kirby, our beloved friend and one of our longest Kingswood volunteers, passed away after a short illness. Don’s work in the New York Annual Conference Camps was long and varied. Along the way he accumulated many of us as friends through his gift of hospitality and his genuine love and care for people. His smile, his humor, his dedication to all the camps: Quinipet, Epworth, Olmsted, Sessions Woods and Kingswood are fondly remembered as well as his culinary delights at Woodsmoke and volunteer events.
The amazing thing about Don is that he reinvented himself to serve the camps and others to the best of his skills and abilities for over 60 years. He was here at Kingswood, from the very beginning, preparing and greeting the first campers. Don did so much that no one person knew all that he did so we have compiled reflections of Don and his contributions to Kingswood and NYAC camping program.
“Don was part of the UM Young Adult groups that were in many churches. We were asked in the late 1960’s to sponsor work weekends to help set up Sessions Woods and a few years later Kingswood. We had other big retreats with a planned theme. Don was involved in all those. He was involved in publishing a monthly newsletter to all the different young adults. So that’s how all the Memorial Day Work weekends at Kingswood started. Don was always involved with the planning and doing. He lent his voice to the many campfires and was the one we called on to offer prayers for meals, etc. He counseled kids at camp and brought his church’s high school groups up on retreats. Dave Taylor figured out a way for churches to hold auctions and part of their profits would go to the camps. Don was one of the auctioneers and spent many Saturdays at churches all over the conference. The fund provided buildings at Quinipet and tractors and site equipment at Kingswood. Don was always the financial person, keeping the books and watching the spending. He always encouraged the raising of camper rates because he could see that financial problems were looming. Don was a representative to the Annual Conference, and Don and a few others were known as the ‘camp people’. He was always thinking about camp and how to improve the experience for all.” -Karen Taylor
“I met Don in the early 1960’s at the Young Adult Fellowship in New Hyde Park. Bud met Don in 1965, and we worked together at Sessions Woods in Connecticut. We then started volunteering at Kingswood, raising our children Paul, Kristen and Keith who grew up calling him “Uncle Donald”. Don will be truly missed by our whole family which now includes grandchildren.” -Judy Swanson
“The Hansen have known Don Kirby since June 1967. We met him at Sessions Woods when my father was Program Director and he was a member of the conference young adults, along with the Swansons and Taylors.
Most memories with Don were at KIngswood. Putting up and taking down tents, and of course the teepees which had to go up each year. As recently as last April he was cooking for the Stone Ministry work weekend.
I have nothing but the fondest memories of all my times with him. I was always amazed at all the activities he was involved in outside of KIngswood. And of course a discussion never ended without talking about our beloved Mets.
KIngswood will not be the same without him.” -KL Hansen
“Don, a friend, leader, gracious always, was a vital member of the Conference Camping Committee from the 1970’s on. Of the many commitments Don made, he and I represented our Committee in developing shared summer camp events with the Presbyterians. His devotion to the camping ministry will be remembered always in the hearts and minds of all who walked the path of faith with him. Carol and I praise God for his wonderful life.” -Doug and Carol Osgood
“Don was our volunteer accountant for Kingswood forever. The ever present teepee was Don’s love. He knew how to set it up and bought new supplies as they were needed. Don was so generous to Kingswood. He bought tarps for the fireplaces, gave substantial donations to the construction of Oasis, the dam and Stone Ministry. His camera was always in his hand, making sure there were pictures of everything, so we had plenty to choose from for publicity. He helped by always having his eye on the budget.” -Cheryl Winship
“So much has been said and can be said about Don. I would like to simply remember the hospitality he extended to me and others who found themselves at Kingswood during the last week of the summer. He also went on the mission trip to Bolivia several times. I was able to be part of that adventure with him, Ginny, Bob, and others, twice. Such a faithful and dedicated servant who will be deeply missed… Well done…” -David Lounsbury
“Don Kirby will be a beacon for me for the remaining years God allows me to inhabit this earth. His quiet, thoughtful commitment to what he believed in has always been inspirational.
I first met Don 20 years ago when I arrived as a Kingswood outsider with a radical vision for the Stone Ministry. He was able to see that maybe the program would not be disruptive, but rather another way for campers to appreciate Kingswood’s sacred space. Don was there the misty morning at set up weekend 2005, when a small group placed the first stone in honor of their friend who was losing her struggle with cancer.
Don remain an avid supporter of Stone Ministry, joining our “ Stone Ministry enthusiasts” who have work weekends spring and fall, now that we are using our forest to build above the stone, columns and arches.” -Peter Seirup
“Don was very active. Not only was he devoted to Kingswood and his local church, St. Paul and St. Andrew in NYC, and some of its programs, he was a board member of the United Methodist City Society and a trustee of the John Street Methodist Episcopal Trust Fund Society (which supports the John Street United Methodist Church, the oldest Methodist congregation in North America) and probably other groups, too.
Don enjoyed the performing arts. I remember him looking forward to his first visit to The Shed, a relatively new performing arts venue in Manhattan. He was also happy to attend dance performances I invited him to at the LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts.
I remember Don being excited to audit a class on Psalms a couple of years ago at The General Theological Seminary that was taught by Dr. Rev. Julie Faith Parker, an old testament scholar who is a member of SPSA.
Until very recently, Don would always pitch his own tent when he stayed at Kingswood.
Don eagerly participated in volunteer work events at Kingswood, both for the camp generally and for Stone Ministry. But he always drove home on Saturday so he could be in church on Sunday morning.
Don was a remarkable man who gave much of himself to groups he cared about. I’m sad he is no longer with us and I’ll miss him. “ -Pat Schlegel
“Your rock solid faith, humility and deep love of God and all creation
Your dedication to your churches – Middle Village and the last 14 years or so at SPSA.
You inspire us all! What an exemplary life!” -Julie Wityk
“I will always remember Don’s passion for the teepee at Kingswood. We always depended on Don to layout the teepee and poles precisely so that we could raise it up together. Ironically, the teepee had to be retired this spring because its fabric became so fragile and unsafe.” -Phyllis and Dave Moore
“One of Benjamin’s favorite memories that showed Don’s heart for others is when Don found a mug with Benjamin’s name on it while at a yard sale and purchased it so he would have one in the Farmhouse. Don was always thinking of others.
Don touched me in so many ways. He was the perfect example of how when you focus on Jesus and serving others, it doesn’t matter what side of the political aisle you are on, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. I will miss him dearly.” -Valerie Lee Minton
“Don was one of the kindest persons ever. I can hear his voice so clearly and imagine his smile and that twinkle he would get in his eyes. And always finding ways to serve. Camp will not be the same without him. Safely and surely in God’s presence now!” -Tracy Moore
“I loved and admired Don for his kindness, his irascibility, and his unflinching ability to dissect a budget in the wink of an eye. He sent me numerous newspaper clippings and notes over the years, all of which were helpful. I appreciate how Don embraced diversity, fully supporting the addition of a welcoming statement for BIPOC folk on our camp websites. He was a mentor, a friend, and an inspiration for a life well lived. I will miss him.” -Brooke Bradley
“In so many ways Don Kirby is the heart and soul of Kingswood. A model of service for us all, a man of profound commitment, a camper to the end, and a man who sought to bring justice to this world. And let us not forget the coffee ice cream!” -Sandi Stratton
A celebration of life will be held at Kingswood on Monday, September 4th (Labor Day) at 11:00am at Stone Ministry. Please email Holly Moore at email@example.com you plan to attend, so we can have an idea of the number of people attending.
Tick Bite Prevention
Across the northeast there has been an increased number of ticks. Kingswood is no exception. Rising global temperatures have resulted in longer summers and shorter winters. The ticks thrive in warm, humid climates. Also the deer population has increased, giving ticks more opportunities to feed and reproduce. These factors are out of our control.
What we can do is prevent tick borne illnesses by being diligent and careful.
Learn about the ticks that live at Kingswood, including what they look like, their preferred habitat and when they’re most active. Deer Tick, American Dog Tick and Llone Star Tick are the most prevalent in our area. The waterfront, roadways and barn area will likely have less ticks than your campsite or the trails.
Perform diligent tick checks. Thoroughly check your body and clothes for ticks. That includes your underarms, belly button, ears, hair and other good hiding places. The lighting in the Oasis may not be adequate. Use a flashlight.
Use EPA-registered repellants when exploring outdoors. These products will help keep ticks off you. This link provides a search engine to find the best product for your activities.
If you’re hiking, stick to the trails. Ticks hang out in brush, grass and other foliage, so don’t venture off the trail when you’re hiking. And, if you can, stick to the center of the trail.
After collecting tinder and kindling from the area around your campsite, check for ticks.
Wear long sleeves and pants when hiking. It might be uncomfortable in the heat of summer, but the less exposed skin, the better. Tuck your pants into your socks.
Wear lighter colors. This will make it easier to spot ticks if they’re crawling on your clothes.
Check your pets and provide them with collars or medication.
by Cheryl Winship, director
Diversity equals stability. This is something I learned in my college ecology classes. The lesson was repeated in a graduate level community planning course. Diversity of species results in stability in ecosystems. Diversity of occupations results in stability of communities. Diversity of ideas, backgrounds, perspectives and, yes, politics results in stability of humanity. The diversity at Kingswood is something I am proud of.
We – the campers and volunteers – are a diverse group of people ranging from urban dwellers to rural inhabitants, independents to socialists, from far right politics to far left, children to folks in their 80’s. Yet, we work together, tolerate others’ opinions, and with that attitude build relationships and understanding. Based on what we see in the media you would think this was not possible. You would think that there was no middle, but we find it – we live it.
We find strength in conversation with others who differ from us. How is our country going to find compromise if we cannot visit with and listen to those with differing views, looks, and perspectives? Kingswood is intentional in its encouragement of each person being valued, and we welcome the unique contributions that you bring in terms of education, opinions, culture, age, race, spiritual belief, ability, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. Last summer we welcomed campers who were Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Christian, as well as atheist. They came from Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Germany. The campers ranged in age from a few months to 93 years of age. Gay and trans campers that have told their story have found acceptance. Some campers needed a stroller, others a walker or cane. Black, brown, and white families and friends camp together. This summer for the first time we look forward to welcoming a camper in a wheelchair. We look forward to welcoming you!
Beauty All Around Us
by Maria Pia Seirup , Kingswood’s Chaplain
For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies . . . for the beauty of each hour, of the day and of the night, hill and vale, and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light. … Lord of all to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.
Beauty all around us … choose any spot on the grounds of Kingswood Campsite and you will find beauty – if you have eyes to see.
Most of us spend so much time indoors that we might miss the beauty of God’s creation all around us. It is hard to miss at Kingswood: the sound of the chirping of birds, the breeze rustling through the leaves and pines, the pitter patter of the rain . . . the sunlight dancing on the water at the pond, the wildflowers in the meadows, the blue sky with puffy clouds, and twinkling stars at night. Natural beauty abounds at Kingswood.
Did you know that acknowledging the beauty of nature can have a significantly positive impact on our well-being?
Research shows that appreciating beauty can help reduce anxiety and depression as well as reducing inflammation and the risk of many diseases. Not only that, studies have shown that spending time in nature can help reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance overall well-being. Furthermore, being in nature has been shown to lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and even improve sleep. The experience of awe and wonder can be deeply therapeutic because nature has a way of capturing our attention and drawing us into the present moment. This can help us feel more grounded and centered. Simply by reflecting on the beauty of the natural world, we can find solace and hope in the midst of life’s challenges.
The natural world is a reflection of God’s divine wisdom and love. God knows we need help navigating the challenges of life. It is God’s plan for us to have abundant life here on earth, not just in heaven.
Linda Purcell, a spiritual director, sees embracing beauty as a spiritual discipline. She encourages us to assume that beauty is everywhere just waiting for us to notice it. Allow yourself to feel its effect upon your soul. Then make your actions reflections of the beauty all around you. Beauty is startling, stimulating, and soothing. Try this practice when you need to be pulled out of your habitual way of seeing and being. Its cultivation produces pleasure:
Take a pause in your day, and then breathe in the beauty of the moment, breathe out any tension you may be holding.
The regular, intentional inclusion of beauty into one’s life has the power to transform our way of “seeing” the world. We may begin to see ourselves, each other, and the world as God sees. It follows that we become more compassionate.
Spending time at Kingswood clears the clutter of our everyday routines and provides openings for splendor and refreshment. Kingswood is also rich in opportunities to explore and nurture more intentional spirituality such as Friday evening Vespers, Sunday Morning Worship, and the Labyrinth. Friday morning sewing and Stone Ministry can be intentional spiritual practices as well.
I am looking forward to serving as Kingswood’s Spiritual Director this summer. I’ve chosen Wonder to be our spiritual theme for Friday night vespers and Sunday morning worship. We’ll be exploring the wonder-filled beauty in and around us through music, scripture, readings, art and prayer.
If you would like an introduction to the Labyrinth as a spiritual practice, please contact me. I am also available to share time with campers who may be seeking spiritual guidance. You may find me in the Barn on Friday mornings or try texting me at 203-470-1337 (no guarantees the text will go through though).
Blessings to you,
Maria-Pia Seirup Spiritual Director
Rev. Maria-Pia M. Seirup graduated from Yale Divinity School in 2015 and was ordained as a United Methodist Deacon in 2021. Over the past 16 years, Pastor Maria-Pia served at Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church in Ridgefield, Connecticut in various positions, including Children’s Ministry Director, Associate Pastor, and Director of Pastoral Care. She also served several summers as Chaplain to the youth campers at Woodsmoke. In the spring of 2020, Rev. Maria Pia founded PeaceWork, Inc., a fledgling ministry seeking to stitch together peace through compassionate service grounded in contemplative prayer. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. my name often confuses people. Maria-Pia is my first name. I prefer to be called Maria-Pia or “MP” rather than Maria. — My husband Peter, the Stone Ministry creator, and I share the same last name, Seirup, pronounced “sigh-rup”]
The Key to Kingswood’s Future Viability: Friends
An Important Message from Cheryl Winship
– Kingswood Director
Finances are not a topic that brings about fun images of summer on Hathaway Pond but, without solid finances, the fun melts away like a snowball on a summer day. Kingswood is subsidized by our parent organization, the New York Annual Conference (NYAC) of the United Methodist Church. This year that amount will be $13,000. This money is used to pay for salaries, particularly our Administrator position. The Administrator plays a central role in communicating with all of you, with our sister camp, Quinipet, located on Shelter Island, and with the NYAC headquarters located in White Plains. Financial strains across the NYAC have put this subsidy on shaky ground. While the NYAC Camping and Retreat Ministry has committed to keep Kingswood’s subsidy at the $13,000 level for 2023, both Kingswood and Quinipet are targeting to raise funds outside of the Conference subsidy to ensure our collective future in serving our communities. We are asking for your help.
Kingswood’s capital expenses are covered using funds raised from logging. The last logging was in 2011 and we have been frugal with this money. It continues to fund our larger projects. Our campsite income and donations cover our operating expenses, including ever increasing insurance. If you have any ideas for ways to increase revenue please reach out to Lynn, myself or any of the volunteers that you may know…
We promote Kingswood on social media, advertise our sites using various listing companies, but word of mouth is by far the best advertising. Please pass along your endorsement of the Kingswood camping experience, share our posts on social media, pass the link to our website to friends via e-mail and consider a donation, if you have not done so already. With your help this is attainable.
Two more seasonal RV rentals, 4 new full-week reservations, and 10 new weekend reservations would get us well on our way toward our goal for 2024. Once campers experience the difference of camping at Kingswood they return year after year. So, bring friends, book an additional site and let’s see if we can get a 10% increase in our occupancy!
A Word from Lynn
Kingswood’s Year Round Administrator and Summer Program Director
The countdown to camp has begun now that reservations are pouring in. 30% of the available full-week equipped sites have been booked in the first 3 weeks of reservations being open. Orchard Over the Wall is the most popular site so far. Overlook Far and Overlook Near are not far behind. March 15th is the date when we open for stays shorter than a week.
As administrator and the program director with a season under my belt, I’m looking at this summer from a different perspective. So many of the names have faces attached to them. I know the rhythm of a week at camp. I’m excited to get back to that little piece of heaven on Earth with so many people I know and care about. I love listening to your families’ stories, and I can’t wait to hear more. People at Kingswood are extraordinary. Mitra, my dog, misses the summer nights, and he loves to meet all of you and your canine friends, too!
Set Up Weekend will be here before you know it. Volunteers will begin arriving on Friday night of Memorial Day weekend.. By breakfast time on Saturday the place will be alive with chatter about the past year and what needs to get done by Monday afternoon. The coffee pots will be filled and refilled throughout the day, and the crew in the farmhouse will delight us with delicious meals, including gluten-free options and vegetarian dishes, right through Monday lunch. There is some free time built in to enjoy your favorite spots around camp. All ages are welcome. There are small but important jobs that young children can do with some assistance. You get this year’s Kingswood T-shirt for volunteering.
Please consider joining us! Where else can you enjoy great fellowship, have fun, give to the Kingswood community and renew and make new friendships – all for the price of your gas to get to Kingswood? If you need to know more, text me at 607-301-0640. Registration will be sent out in late April or early May.
One of the camp’s greatest assets is the trail system. Cheryl has a weekend set aside in June for clearing limbs and making sure our trails are ready for the season. Teens and adults who are interested should contact me at email@example.com for more details.
We are looking forward to welcoming Harvest Toman back as our lifeguard for the upcoming season.
There are some weeks of program directing available. The program materials and activities will all be clearly defined. The job runs from Friday morning though Wednesday afternoon. If you or someone you know would like to do a week or two, let me know. I’m happy to support you in this role.
Enjoy the winter; join me in the countdown.
Stone Ministry Update
by Peter Seirup
In the late 1990s I was picking up one of my three kids from Eagle 1 after his two weeks at the Woodsmoke kids’ camp when I had a vision. I was looking at a stone wall that farmers had built years ago, and I imagined a program where campers could cement stones into an evolving structure.
Like an earworm this vision did not go away. After about five years of percolation, I felt I should put the vision on paper and propose it to the Kingswood Site Committee.
In 2003 the Site Committee approved the Stone Ministry program of helping campers befriend stones, clean them, mark them with a special message and cement them into our timeless evolving structure. Even though the camp is only open about ten weeks each summer, Stone Ministry soon became my year-round passion. Off season I would listen to nudgings from the Holy Spirit and have fun making plans.
By 2017 thousands of stones had been placed by campers which created stone columns and arches surrounding a grand Rumford-style fireplace and its tall stone chimney. Every stone was unique. Every stone was inscribed with a special message. And every stone was a “keystone” because without it, there would be nothing for the stones surrounding it to lean on.
Fortunately, what started as a handful of Stone Ministry Masons helping campers cement stones, gradually became a group of about a dozen and a half Stone Ministry enthusiasts. This was timely, because chapels have roofs and creating a roof structure was beyond our Stone Ministry campers program. So for the last five years or so, our enthusiasts have met about twice each year and milled hemlock from our forest into heavy timber, assembled about half of the eventual, magnificent roof structure and covered part of it with slate imported about 150 miles away from Vermont.
Since we have known from the beginning that building this chapel would take at least 30 years, people occasionally asked me whether or not I expected to see it finished. I would smile and say that I would like that very much, but I guess we will just have to wait and see.
One of my favorite gifts from God is that the future is unknown. This is what allows us to have hope. Last summer was the first summer I was going to put my paid job aside completely to spend more time at Kingswood. As the randomness of life would have it, I had a cerebral hemorrhage driving up to camp at the end of June. As a result, I was paralyzed completely on the left side and spent the next seven weeks in hospitals from ICU to rehab.
Our Stone Ministry enthusiasts immediately jumped into action. They led the Friday and Saturday Stone cementing sessions all summer and also helped with the more recent Friday night Vespers prayer service. Summer activities at Stone Ministry included a memorial service for Peter Swords that was attended by around 50 people.
I was encouraged, honored and excited to be visited in the hospital by Stone Ministry friends every week. When I got out in August, I went straight to Kingswood. I may have been physically diminished, but I was able to help campers cement in permanent personal anchors into our chapel of diversity.
To be continued…
Camper Spotlight: The PINTO Beans
An Interview with the Pinto Family, July, 2022, written by Terri Hein
“I’m losing my mind, one child at a time, but I still bring them to KINGSWOOD !!! “ James Pinto.
The Pinto Family learned about Kingswood by google searching family campsites. They had camped at some state campgrounds, but when they found out about Kingswood, they knew this was it! The “boys” started coming to Kingswood five years ago. Dad, Luke, Elijah and David rented Hogan for the first time in 2017. Since then Dad brings a chicken dish to EVERY Tuesday Pot-luck that they’re in camp.
I invited the family down to the barn to talk with them about their experience at Kingswood. We sat and chatted about what each of them enjoyed most about their time camping. This year, July, 2022, was the first time that the ENTIRE Pinto family was able to come to Kingswood. James was happy to have his wife and all eight children together. James says he really enjoys how safe the campground is. The layout is familiar and all the kids love being able to walk/run to all activities and events. They enjoy all of the programs that are available each day, especially the crafts and the food program with Miss Lynn. The family enjoys playing badminton and swimming every day at the pond. Hiking some of the trails is a favorite thing for Dad to enjoy.
Luke has caught three fish. Mia has caught a turtle. Ella loves the pond and swimming. The lake is “magical” when it is raining. They are all very excited every year to spend an entire week together at Kingswood. Luke likes to barricade the tent. Mia and Lily like hanging at the barn, playing games and doing puzzles. Kate loves the barn and running around with NO shoes on. They all like the trails and going on hikes sometimes. The fitness trail is cool, too. David really likes meeting new people each time they come to Kingswood. Luke likes the history of Kingswood and what Mr. Pete tells them on the hikes. They enjoy the POT-LUCK every Tuesday. They are very happy and thankful for the OASIS. All the staff are super friendly and. nice. Mia mentioned that Stone Ministry is a special place to be. All the kids like sitting with. Erin on the beach and talking. The campsites are very organized and clean.
-an interview with Cynthia Haughery with Lynn Grainger
Bill, Cynthia and their boys have been coming to Kingswood since 1988. Cynthia had been praying for a way for their young family with 5 boys to vacation. Shortly thereafter Elaine Price handed her a Kingswood brochure, so she and Bill decided to give it a try.
On that first trip to Kingswood they stayed at Eagle 1 during the last weekend of the summer. Coming from a heatwave in Lancaster, PA, they were unprepared for the cold. It dropped to 44 degrees that night. Bill and Cynthia didn’t sleep that night, but they kept the fire burning to ensure their 3 month old baby was warm. Cynthia put the boys to bed with underwear on their heads to trap body heat. The next morning Ginny came up in her Subaru to check on the family and told them about the wool blankets in the barn. That’s when they knew they were connected to a trusted community of campers. Kingswood is “boy heaven” according to Cynthia.. The diversity of the community exposed their family to new ideas, and they expanded their palates at potlucks. There is a great balance between family time and interaction with the rest of camp.
The Haughery clan has returned every year with three exceptions, and they regretted missing those summers. Matthew, James, John, Christopher and William have families of their own now that join for at least part of their parents’ stay at Kingswood each summer. Several of them have also camped with an infant in tow,, and they all find joy in spending time with their sons and daughters at Kingswood. Some of their grandchildren’s friends have also now discovered Kingswood.
The talks by the fire late into the evening began as a time when Bill and Cynthia became closer and then one by one the boys joined. Many significant conversations took place around a Kingswood fire. Now the campfire is an intergenerational family custom.
It’s a sweet place for the extended family to reconnect. Cynthia is grateful to her daughter-in-laws who put in the time and effort to make it happen year after year.
Candles, Birds, Campfires, Collage and Relationships
2022 was the first year I planned the activities for Kingswood’s programs. It is a challenge to come up with economical options that appeal to everyone from age 4 to 94.
One Saturday morning craft I had more adults than children making candles using 5 or 6 different methods. I was a bit overwhelmed melting wax over the fire and pouring wax upon request. But I looked at the joy in each face, and I knew that this is what success looks like at a Kingswood program. The same is true when adults asked for gloves and an owl pellet to dissect alongside their children. One morning two adult campers who knew lots about birds came to the program just to dissect an owl pellet, an experience they had not had before. Our conversation went well past noon.
As fun and as engaging as the programs are, I have come to realize that the most important part of the Program Director’s job is building relationships. Campers routinely ask about Ginny and Holly. They share their stories about these women. They don’t remember what they cooked, what they made at the craft area or where the hike went. They do remember how Ginny and Holly valued them and made the time at Kingswood special. That’s my goal for my team and me.
Two young boys at different points in the summer were struggling with their big emotions about leaving Kingswood this summer. We all feel the sadness when it comes to leaving Kingswood, but these kids couldn’t put into words what they were feeling. Everything was ugly and stupid. Fortunately, I sat down to talk with the child while playing with the kinetic sand. Once I realized what was going on, I was able to offer a bit of Kingswood to each boy to take home for show and tell. I gave them part of a skeleton of a fox that had been found earlier in the summer near Overlook by some older boys. They left with a token that changed their mood and will carry them through to next summer.
I look forward to seeing you in 2023!
Message from Our Director: Cheryl Winship
Summer 2022 Shout Outs
2022 was a wonderful camping season. There are many things for which I am thankful. The weather cooperated and provided all of us with many warm, dry, sunny days. A big shout-out to all of you campers who returned despite the very rainy summer of 2021. This summer, early campers enjoyed successful bass fishing; later season campers enjoyed the high bush blueberries and monarch butterflies. Everyone was able to enjoy swimming in Hathaway Pond. That reminds me to say thanks to our volunteers who stepped in and took a week or two as the beach attendant. A big shout out to the Minton family for filling in all of August!
Speaking of shout outs and wonderful summer happenings. I would like to shout out to all of our Stone Ministry volunteers who pitched in to keep Stone Ministry going after Peter Seirup’s medical condition left him with minimal movement on one side. A big shout out to Peter for fighting through rehabilitation and simultaneously coordinating the efforts at Stone Ministry, though he did get reprimanded by his doctor for doing too much. The most wonderful part is that Peter’s efforts and God’s hand combined and resulted in Peter being present at camp for Labor Day weekend, and he was back to running a Fall Stone Ministry volunteer weekend that saw him recovered and feeling victorious after the harrowing start to his summer.
Another shout out goes to a person you likely encountered this summer or during the reservation process – Lynn Grainger. She is our Administrator and the Program Director. She coordinated the programs and was behind the scenes even if she was not the PD the week you were in camp. Maria Pia, Peter’s wife and our camp chaplain, was home helping Peter. So, Lynn stepped in and coordinated coverage for most of the programs Maria-Pia had planned. If you enjoyed a vespers service or a Sunday worship, you can thank Lynn for arranging the coverage for these programs to happen.
So, with Fall comes many thankful thoughts, and anticipation for seeing everyone in 2023!
by Lynn Grainger
As I write this, there are just 60 days until camp opens on June 24th. I’m so excited to get back to Kingswood.
The program directorship this summer will be shared between Valerie Minton, Amanda Snook-Barnes and me.
For crafts we will be recycling plastic and glass bottles into instruments or decorative glassware using collage with tissue paper on Tuesdays. On Saturday mornings we will make candles. There are so many different kinds of candles that can be made, including turning the glass project from Tuesday into a candle. The cupcake candle and sand candles will be our main projects.
The nature study on Tuesdays will be birds and their adaptations. We will look specifically at owls’ adaptations, habitats and food web.
Metal coffee cans 28 oz or larger and #10 commercial cans for candle making
Interesting shaped plastic and glass bottles. Please remove the labels.
Glass ice cream or sundae dishes you might find at a flea market or yard sale
Toilet paper tubes
Smooth rocks for Kingswood Rocks
Changes for 2022
This summer we will have a sign up for the Monday morning program On Site Insight. We want to be sure we have enough food ready for the group. Since many families are coming in on Sunday night and that first night can be a little rough, we’re moving that program to 10:30. If you’re running a little late, please still come to learn some interesting cooking strategies and recipes. The program director will be there until 11:00 as long as someone has signed up. You’ll be done by 1:00 to be ready to go swimming.
We will be adding pre-cut parchment paper squares for the pie irons and liners for the Dutch Oven to the camp store. A couple of recipes will be included in your purchase. You can try out what you learn in On Site Insight right away.
On Friday night we are having just one program, Vespers. People are welcome to gather in the barn before the wagon ride up to Stone Ministry. The store will be open for 45 minutes before the ride leaves for Vespers. The program director will be available in the barn to answer your questions and to loan equipment.
Rocks to Paint
Kingswood Rocks continues on as a favorite, but sadly people are using the rocks from the foundation of the craft area. We are seeking volunteers to gather rocks for this independent art project that so many campers enjoy. If you have a source for river rocks or other smooth rocks, consider collecting some and bringing them to camp. A table will be set aside under the craft area pavilion specifically for rock painting. A kit will be in the cupboard that will have all you need to create inspirational rocks throughout your stay
Camper Spotlight: Sollin Family
The Sollin family has been coming to Kingswood for the past 7 years. Charles started camping at Kingswood in the 90’s as a third grader. He loved it as a kid, and he wanted his children to have the same experiences as he and his siblings Chris, Kelli, and Cynthia had. Charles wished he had started younger, so he brought his family to Kingswood when his kids were preschoolers.
Their first trip was challenging with two-year-old Emilie and four-year-old Charles and the rain. The kids got dirty so quickly, and Carrie kept changing them into clean dry clothes. Before the first day was done, the kids had worn all the clothes they brought for the weekend. Carrie was in tears. The van was stuck in the mud. They called AAA to have someone pull them out when the Kingswood tractor couldn’t. The weekend went by quickly once the rain stopped.
Charles was quite surprised that after that experience Carrie agreed to a weeklong stay at Kingswood the following summer. It has been part of their summer plans since. Carrie loves pulling into the site and breathing the fresh air. It’s so different from their Long Island home. The scene at Kingswood is breathtaking. Charlie loves watching his family have so much fun.
Emilie, now 10, loves fishing, swimming, catching newts, hiking and cooking. Charles, 12, also loves the fishing and swimming. Family bonfires and boating also rate high for him. Both children love Stone Ministry and homemade ice cream on Tuesday nights. Gunner, the puppy, loved having space to zoom around last summer and will probably like swimming this summer as much as their other dog did. The family’s favorite program is Onsite Insight on Monday mornings.
Charles and Charlie are both interested in the Trail Blazing weekend this June. As a family they are willing to mentor a family just beginning to camp at Kingswood this summer through our new mentoring program.
The Milky Way and beyond …
…a message from Kingswood’s chaplain, Maria Pia Seirup
Have you ever seen the Milky Way? No, not the Milky Way candy bar, but that huge collection of stars, dust and gas that sometimes decorates the night sky?
A quick search on Google reveals that the best places to see the Milky Way in the U.S. are in the National Parks in Utah, Arizona, Texas, Nevada and Hawaii. But guess what!?! You don’t have to go so far away to see the Milky Way. On clear nights, you will find the Milky Way showing up at right above our beloved Camp Kingswood!
July and August are perfect viewing months when the Milky Way will be high in the night sky. At Kingswood, Eagle field, the Farmhouse front yard, the beach, and the Stone Ministry are excellent places to go star gazing in addition to your own campsite if there aren’t trees in the way.
I find the sight of the Milky Way softly glowing behind the bright stars to be humbling, awe-inspiring, and deeply spiritual. The beauty of our galaxy reminds me of the love God showers upon us from on high.
Last summer I created a Vespers service at the Stone Ministry to encourage campers to gather together to experience God’s presence among us after dark. Often the stars and the moon, and sometimes even the Milky Way, join us.
Vespers is an ancient tradition of gathering for prayer at sunset. At Kingswood, we gather just after the sun has set at the Stone Ministry. A hush falls over the participants as the fireplace glows with dancing flames and candles illuminate the stones that have been lovingly placed in the structure by the campers over many years. The 20 minute Vespers service opens with soft music, prayer, a scripture reading, and then we sit in silence for a time following God’s command to “Be still and know that I am God.” God knows we all need time to power down and rest. The Vespers service closes with a few favorite songs and then we quietly walk away filled with awe and wonder.
All ages are welcome at the Vespers service. (Esther, my snowy owl puppet, often makes an appearance to help wiggly little ones settle in.) For those with limited mobility, there is an all-wheel drive car shuttle right into the Stone Ministry site. For those seeking an added delightful, but bumpy, adventure, the Hey! Wagon, decked out with twinkling lights, provides shuttle service with stops at the Barn and the Oasis. The starting time for the Vespers service shifts according to the time of sunset. Start times are posted in the Barn.
Gathering with others to experience the grandness of God’s creation can be a profound experience that brings us into closer relationship with family members as well as with new and old friends and creates bonds that can last a lifetime. Camp Kingswood is an outstanding venue where these opportunities abound.
I hope you will come be a part of the Kingswood cosmic experience this summer!
Peace be with you,
P.S. my name often confuses people. Maria-Pia is my first name. I prefer to be called Maria-Pia or “MP.” — [No, my husband, Peter, the Stone Ministry creator, is not Mr. Pia – we share the same last name, Seirup, pronounced “sigh-rup”]
Rev. Maria-Pia M. Seirup is an ordained United Methodist Deacon. She graduated from Yale Divinity School in 2015. Over the past 20years, Pastor Maria-Pia served at Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church in Ridgefield, Connecticut, in various positions, including Children’s Ministry Director, Associate Pastor, and Director of Pastoral Care. She also served several summers as Chaplain to the youth campers at Woodsmoke. In the spring of 2020, Rev. Maria Pia founded PeaceWork, inc., a ministry seeking to stitch together peace through compassionate service grounded in contemplative prayer.
Stone Ministry became part of the programming at Kingswood in the summer of 2005. The vision was to provide campers a tangible way to permanently connect with our sacred space.
Since then thousands of stones lovingly cemented into our evolving structure have become permanent anchors for countless campers and their friends. Each stone was inscribed with a special dedication, prayer or message before it became part of the community of stones.
Every stone is a keystone because of its individuality, its special meaning and because without it the stone above it would not transfer weight to the stone below it.
In a sense the building itself is a side effect of the program. Indeed there was a vision in the beginning of what the building might look like. But that was subject to change as the Holy Spirit nudged with kernels of inspiration.
From the beginning we built little alcoves and protruding shelves into the structure both for the purpose of someday supporting candles for candlelight worship. That day has finally come.
Last summer Kingswood’s Chaplin, pastor Maria Pia Seirup, instituted Friday night vespers at the Stone Ministry. This simple prayer service included a Bible verse, contemplative prayer, silence and some singing by the light of candles in the stone alcoves, and on the stone shelves, as campers sat in front of the fire in the Stone Ministry fireplace.
Last year’s Friday night Vespers were well attended and we look forward to continuing this as a Kingswood program in the future.
Besides campers adding hundreds of stones last summer to Stone Ministry’s evolving structure, the core group of Stone Ministry enthusiasts assembled another 9 feet of roof structure in October and then created another 1700 ft.² of sheathing lumber from six nearby hemlock trees in February.
We look forward to another great summer season of campers adding to the community of stones one stone at a time. But not all visits by campers are for cementing stones. Some just keep returning to gaze and taking the magic of what has happened, and is happening, in that corner of Kingswood’s sacred space.
How cool is that?
Kingswood RV Update
by Peter Seirup
This summer will mark 12 years since the first two RV sites at the top of the cornfield became occupied by Jack and Dotty Seirup and their son Andrew.
The camp originally sought approval from the NYS department of health for 10 sites. The two sites that we built were a pilot program. They were site numbers six and seven in the master plan.
But in order to get certificates of occupancy from the NYSDOH for those two sites we had to build a dumping station down at the bottom of the hill which, of course, we did at that time
Over the years we built sites numbers three and four and later number five as the interest in RV camping at Kingswood began to slowly catch on. Last year was the first year we actually had to turn someone down because there wasn’t an open site for the particular weekend in question.
And so that is why we intend to finish up site number one, at the bottom of the hill, for availability this summer.
RV sites are rented at the same price as equipped tent sites but are also available for $1600 for the entire season. The sites are beautifully situated and laid out. They come with 30 amp 120 V electrical hook ups and water hook ups. The dumping station is available for the RVs, and, of course all the wonderful programs and facilities at our camp are also available to RV campers.
The investments into the RV campground have been paid off over the years by the rental fees and RV camping remains a significant contributor to camp revenues.
We are actively planning sites 8, 9, and 10 up on the hill further north overlooking the cornfield and the valley. Those will be prime sites which are already being eyed by certain Kingswood people for seasonal use.
Volunteer Spotlight: Interview with Rachel Bortin
Rachel Bortin has been coming to Kingswood with her family since she can remember. The everyday activities of cooking, hanging out at the lake, walking in nature and connecting with friends and family, has sparked a lifelong interest in camping and in environmental stewardship. Growing up at Kingswood influenced Rachel’s decision to get an MA in Environmental and Outdoor Education, and she now works as Summer Camp Director at Primitive Pursuits in Ithaca, NY. There, she oversees summer programming.
After coming to camp with her family for several years, Rachel fell in love with Kingswood as a 10-year-old Woodsmoke Camper. There, she learned the art of camp craft and collaborated on sustainable work projects. She didn’t think of the experience as ‘rustic’ or as ‘work,’ rather enjoyed the opportunity to engage with her peers and building community. In high school, Rachel worked with the crew that designed and created the playground. She is grateful to Project Manager Mike Weinlein, whose building skills are matched by his big heart and ability to mentor children and teens. At the end of the day, Rachel remembers feeling tired and proud, enjoying the experience of bonding with others by accomplishing something big together.
Rachel first volunteered at Kingswood with her family when she was 12 or 13, participating in Set Up Weekend. A highlight was putting up the signs for the trails, campsites and amenities. She had never seen Kingswood ‘bare’ before and relished the feeling of welcoming in the summer season. A big perk was driving the golf cart, a coming-of-age ritual for many Kingswood kids! Rachel remembers getting stuck when they defied the rules and tried off-roading with the cart.
In 9th grade Rachel was asked to complete a project: interview folks about a meaningful experience. She chose Kingswood regular Dustan Winship, then age 9, along with a couple of adult volunteers. Presenting her essay in class, Rachel felt that her school life and ‘real life’ had been connected.
Rachel became Kingswood’s youngest Program Director in 2019 and thoroughly enjoyed learning about how much goes on ‘behind the scenes,’ observing that “what seems simple to outsiders is built from a lot of work and thought.” She enjoyed staying in the Manger’s cabin, observing both the natural environment and Kingswood’s people grow and change over the summer season. Being Program Manager at Kingswood prepared Rachel for her next steps, enrolling in the Environment Education Masters Program at SUNY Cortland, which led to her current position with Primitive Pursuits in Ithaca.
Rachel remains involved with her Kingswood family. While the Woodsmoke program was phased out before Covid, Rachel is now spearheading young people’s retreats at Kingswood, reaching out to a new generation of kids and families. The goal of this program is to help teens connect to the natural world and to each other. A Summer 2022 retreat is being planned now with youth activities that focus on skills: outdoor cooking, naturalist knowledge, leadership, and confidence.
Rachel is excited to share and expand all that Kingswood has to offer.
As a young adult, Rachel is still in touch with Kingswood friends of all generations. As she explains, “when you see people at Kingswood, even if you have not spoken to them in years, you reconnect as if no time has passed.”
About 50% of the nights available in equipped sites throughout the season are booked. July is the most popular time to book this season. Two weekends in July are completely booked for the equipped sites, though you can have an RV site or a Tent & Trailer site those weekends. The beginning of our season has many sites open. The Labor Day weekend has a few spots yet. For some of our most popular sites, there is availability in August. Tent & Trailer and RV have sites available throughout the summer.
Remember, when you’re booking, our equipped sites are listed as rental units on the booking program.
This is our cancellation policy:
For reservations cancelled 8 days or more before a reservation arrival date, the camper will receive a full refund less a $25 administrative fee. Reservations cancelled within 7 days of arrival will forfeit 50% of the payment.
Cancellation requests must be made by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone or text to Lynn Grainger at 607-301-0640.
Message from the Director
by Cheryl Winship
Kingswood – A beautiful natural setting that is an ideal place for new campers to try camping.
Advertising experts say that word of mouth from happy customers is the best form of advertising. Kingswood campers have been doing this for years. You tell friends and acquaintances, church members and neighbors about this place that you love to camp called Kingswood. You invite friends to camp with you and show them how to cook over an open fire, take them to your favorite programs, lead them on hikes and show them places to see the stars or pick berries. They return to camp with you again or even graduate to camping on their own. This legacy of campers mentoring “newbie” campers has been going on since the camp opened.
Summer 2022 will see this happen as a formal program offered to all “newbies.” We want to make camping accessible to all. All including those who do not view themselves as campers, those who have never been camping, those who know no one who camps but for some reason it interests them. These folks will likely have fears, reservations and lots of questions. Our experienced campers are being asked to offer to mentor a “newbie.” If you are interested in sharing your enthusiasm for camping and love of Kingswood, please sign up to answer questions and help a new camper feel comfortable before ever arriving at Kingswood. Or sign-up to mentor a ‘newbie” while you are camping. You can show them how to light a campfire, how to use the kitchen efficiently, give them a tour of camp, and make them feel welcome into the community.
When I said our vision is that all who want to camp will be able to have the camping experience, I mean even those who cannot afford to buy equipment or pay for an equipped site. We are offering financial assistance to encourage families to get the R&R, fresh air, and adventure that they need, especially after the last two years of isolation and limited experiences. If you know someone who you think would enjoy a stay at Kingswood, please talk to them and encourage them to apply for financial assistance. The Kingswood volunteers look forward to welcoming back all of our loyal campers, as well as the “newbies” who bravely try camping for the first time, and those who have camped elsewhere but are interested in trying this new place called Kingswood.
Want to help Kingswood welcome new campers? Here’s how you can help.
Ask Lynn Grainger, the administrator, to send you our new rack card so you can hand it to co-workers & friends.
Invite a family to camp with you.
Recommend a family for financial assistance.
Sign-up to mentor.
Kingswood is Home
Top 10 Reasons to Go to Kingswood
Three affordable options – equippped site, rv site and tent site
You get away from technology.
Your food tastes better outdoors when you cook over the fire.
You realize how little you can live with.
When you look up at the sky at night you can ponder the magnitude of God’s creation
You can be alone… or not.
You can meet new people at the barn, at programs and at the beach.
You can take a closer look at nature and the interconnectedness of the systems.
You can deepen the relationships with the people you are camping with and have lots of fun.
You can draw closer to God in whatever way you choose.
Pete & Terri Share their Love for Kingswood
Diana Loves Hathaway Pond
Kingswood 2023 Camping Sunday
Start Planning Your Family Summer Getaway
Thank you for visiting our Camping Sunday Page. The orange hyperlinks below will take you to the essentials about Kingswood on our website. If you have any questions, reach out to Lynn Grainger at email@example.com or you can text or call (607) 301-0640.
You can come with just your food, clothing, and sleeping bags, or you can bring your own equipment.
Activities at Kingswood and the Surrounding Area
Programming, boat usage, and equipment loans are included in your site rental. To learn more about what we have for programming click here. To learn more about activities in and around Hancock in the southern Catskills along the Delaware River, click here.
Kingswood Campsite is offering limited financial assistance to campers for the 2023 camping season. If you would like to camp at Kingswood this summer, but need financial assistance to be able to do so, please complete the financial assistance application below and submit it by May 24, 2023. We will respond to your request by June 15, 2023. Applications submitted after the May 24, 2023 deadline will be considered only if funds remain available. As part of our evaluation of your application, we will reach out to your reference. Application here.
Camping for the first time can be challenging. We have people ready to help you prepare for the trip and to support you while you’re at Kingswood. Let us know you’re interested by filling out this form.
Kingswood is an affordable option for a camping vacation because it is primarily run by volunteers. Click here to learn more about the volunteer opportunities.
Click herefor many different reasons to choose Kingswood for a trip this summer.
Make a Reservation
Reservations for a week or more are open now. Beginning March 15th reservations can be made for less than a week.Click hereto start your adventure.
There are still dates available to rent the Farmhouse this winter and throughout the spring. Read more here. Contact Lynn Grainger for availability via phone or text at (607) 301-0640. You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer Spotlight: Interview with Stephanie and Justin
December 26, 2021
Written by Sandi Stratton-Gonzalez
If you want to get in touch with your spirit, and the Spirit, Kingswood is the place to go.” Stephanie Millien
Stephanie Millien and her sons Justin and Max have been camping in Kingswood (KW) for over 12 years. Max, who just turned 13, has literally been coming his entire life. Justin, now in his early 20’s, was in 3rd grade when he and his mother Stephanie were introduced to the camp by Justin’s friend Mike Cavanaugh. Starting with their first visit to Cove, they have now stayed at every equipped site except Pines.
Stephanie says that the family treats their annual Kingswood trip as a true vacation. They come up right after school ends, and Kingswood kicks off the summer season. Friendships have deepened at camp, and new friendships have been made. Now, they share the same camping week with an extended network of friends. The experience of the natural world combined with the deepening connection to others keeps the Millien’s coming back!
Stephanie and Justin have many special memories of camp. Justin recalls the years of playing with Michael Cavanaugh and CJ Howard: three boys finding sticks on the ground and putting them in the fire, turning the sticks into magic wands as they became wizards. They channeled various movies and TV shows, and the Harry Potter books as a jumping off point to creating their own universe and adventures.
Stephanie recalls all the drives up to camp from Long Island. “I have a whole car full of kids. It’s a good time to catch up.” The family would look at the houses on the way up and create stories: the zombie apocalypse or paranormal narratives inspired by the homes.
Like many KW campers the family loves to go to the Penquin for the create-your-own-flavor ice cream. Several KW folks gave Stephanie directions, but being independent (she self-describes here as ‘stubborn’) she decided to use the GPS instead. “Girl, they had me going into some backwood, deliverance type road, no signal.” Having followed the GPS directions once myself, I know that route: a 12-mile stretch along the reservoir so seldom travelled that wildlife stands in the middle of a road nearly reclaimed by the forest!
Stephanie is very grateful that camping at Kingswood has built so many rich memories for her and her boys. Max, she recalls, pretty much grew up at Kingswood. She started camping here the year before he was born. Then, there are rituals the family participates in every year: building fires (no one can build a fire faster than Justin), roasting ‘smores with Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, baking a cake in the cast iron pot, laying in the hammock and of course, hiking.
Like many long-time KW campers, Stephanie, Justin and Max have become volunteers. Stephanie recalls that Cheryl Winship reached out, inviting her to Set-Up Weekend. It sounded like fun, and an opportunity to get in a little extra Kingswood time. Justin shared that volunteering is a chance to give back to the community that has served him for so long. He loves the physical activity of being on the tent set up crew, and the good night’s rest after a work day.
One of Stephanie’s best memories of volunteering at camp is also the deep sleep of a well-earned rest. “You work hard and also play hard ,and it feels good at the end of the day.” You also get to see the camp from a different point of view: from the kitchen, the farmhouse, behind some of those doors in the barn, the barn filled with summer season tents, furniture and equipment, and the barn empty.
What keeps the Millien’s coming back? The natural beauty of KW, the community, and, as Stephanie says, “it’s just enough camping, the sweet spot between glamping and camping.” For Justin, it allows him “a release from everyday hustle and bustle and from (our) industrialized computerized society.” It is a time to draw, listen to nature, sit by a fire.
A multi-talented individual, Stephanie Millien has been a teacher, flight attendant, and has worked in real estate and advertising. Recently, she started her own business, AJW Comfort Cake Company, making alcohol-infused cakes inspired by recipes passed down from her mother. Justin created the company logo and handles social media for the brand.
Justin Millien recently started his own fashion and graphic design multi-media arts collective, Mobpenguin. The collective creates a unique product every month that includes a fashion line in conjunction with a music release. The Mobpenguin mission is to produce avant-garde art while showcasing and bringing recognition to visionary artists.
From the Director
Volunteers Make Kingswood Run
by Cheryl Winship
As many of you know, but some may be learning, Kingswood is a nearly all volunteer run organization. One key group is the managers.
Managers are like campground hosts but with more responsibility. If you have camped at Kingswood, they are the folks who register you when you arrive and drive Harry, the tractor that pulls the hayrides. Managers stay in the farmhouse and volunteer one or two weeks of their summer. They are responsible for collecting garbage, mowing the grounds, making repairs, answering the phone, and helping to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. If you are new to Kingswood, please know that the managers during your week are a wealth of information -from local places to shop or visit, to knowing the history of the site, to solving camper disputes and helping with camper emergencies (like a local place to call when you lock your keys in your car). They are also the people (along with the PD and lifeguard) who enforce the rules that help make Kingswood a unique campground. If you are loud past 10:00 pm, or certainly by 10:30, you will get a visit from your friendly managers reminding you of the 10:00 pm quiet hours.
So, this summer say hi to the managers, ask them questions, and know that you are not alone when you camp at Kingswood; your managers are there to help. Look to see who will be managing during your week of camping.
June 24 – July 3
Jojo & Sandi Gonzalez
July 3 – July 10
Swanson & Winship families
New Hyde Park/Goshen
July 10 – July 17
Phyllis & Dave Moore
July 17 – July 24
July 24 – July 31
July 31 – Aug. 7
Tim Shenk/Alicia Swords and Emma
Aug. 7 – Aug. 14
Swanson & Winship families
New Hyde Park/Goshen
Aug. 14 – Aug.21
Holly & Jim Moore
Aug. 21 – Aug. 28
JoJo & Sandi Gonzalez
Aug. 28 – Sept. 5
Don Kirby & Holly/Jim Moore
What do volunteers do?
Some spend Memorial Day weekend setting up equipment or the weekend after Labor Day taking down equipment. This requires no skills, just a love for being outdoors or in the kitchen and enjoying working with others. Not all volunteers are extraverts; some take on independent projects like quarterly water samples, trail work, eradicating invasive species, social media posts, program planning, graphic design, photography, and annual appeal, to name a few. Other volunteers fill skilled roles like carpentry, excavating, and website design. Many volunteers have created a niche for themselves. Some volunteers take on leadership roles as managers or directors. If you want to get to know many of the volunteers, sign up to help out Memorial Day Weekend. If you have a skill to offer or an idea for a niche that could use filling, please let Lynn know.
Why be a volunteer?
The year round administrator is a ¼ time paid position; the summer Program Director and Lifeguard are paid. Other than that, we are all volunteers. The site director, myself, is a volunteer role, as is the treasurer. All supplies are ordered by volunteers; all construction is done by volunteers; the maintenance of all the fields, trails, boat and swim areas, and campsites -yes that’s done by volunteers. too. If you are getting the idea that the volunteer group, all 200 of them, are proud of what they accomplish, you are right. Their efforts are what continue to make Kingswood affordable. In a world where the wealthy have great access to nature while others have less, Kingswood provides opportunity for all. If you book an equipped site. you do not have to own gear which is expensive and bulky to store. Where else can you stay outdoors, with shelter over your head and your own outdoor kitchen, plus have access to a clean bathhouse, access to indoor spaces for rainy days (the barn), activities, rowboats, kayaks, canoes, and a wonderful community of people – all for one inclusive price?
Upcoming Volunteer Opportunities
Set Up Weekend
tents go up; all signs are hung
for adults and teens to work on trail maintenance
get camp ready to open
chuck boxes and program materials are brought in
Take Down Weekend
tents go down; everything is packed up
Contact Lynn Grainger for more information.
Interested in Managing?
To be a manager you have to volunteer for a few years and take part in the set-up and take down events to learn how the equipment works and where it is stored. Then you spend a week shadowing a managing team. Finally, the next summer you take on the role of manager with an experienced manager on site as your mentor. The third summer you are on your own, but there is a wealth of knowledge in fellow volunteers who are just a phone call away. Last step is for you to develop a managing team. This could be two people, a family or some friends. A managing team must have at least two people, but most teams invite a friend or family member to join them to make the weekends easier. Many hands make light work.
If you are interested in managing or volunteering, please contact the Kingswood Administrator, Lynn Grainger, at email@example.com or at (607) 301-0640.
Summer Programming Plans
It’s planning time for summer programs. There are a few things we will need to provide campers with creative opportunities. Please see what you can contribute. You can bring the items on SetUp Weekend or early in the camping season. If you have any questions, reach out to Lynn Grainger at (607) 301-0640.
Metal coffee cans or #10 commercial cans for candle making
Interesting shaped plastic and glass bottles. Please remove the labels.
Glass ice cream or sundae dishes you might find at a flea market or yard sale
Silicone cupcake liners for cupcake candles
Toilet paper tubes
Changes for 2022
Next summer we ill have a sign up for the Monday morning program On Site Insight. We want to be sure we have enough food ready for the group. Since many families are coming in on Sunday night and that first night can be tough, we’re moving that program to 10:30. If you’re running a little late, please still come to learn some interesting cooking strategies and recipes. The program director will be there until 11:00 as long as someone has signed up. You’ll be done by 1:00 to be ready to go swimming.
We will be adding pre-cut parchment paper squares for the pie irons and liners for the Dutch Oven to the camp store. A couple of recipes will be included in your purchase. You can try out what you learn in On Site Insight right away.
On Friday night we are having just one program, vespers. People are welcome to gather in the barn before the hayride up to Stone Ministry. The store will be open for 45 minutes before the hayride leaves for vespers. The program director will be available in the barn to answer your questions and to loan equipment.
Rocks to Paint
Kingswood Rocks continues on, but unfortunately people are using the rocks from the foundation of the craft area. We are seeking volunteers to gather rocks for this independent art project that so many campers enjoy. If you have a source for river rocks or other smooth rocks, consider collecting some and bringing them to camp. Contact Lynn Grainger if you’re planning on bringing some rocks. A table will be set aside under the craft area pavilion specifically for rock painting. A kit will be in the cupboard that will have all you need to create inspirational rocks throughout your stay
If there is a certain art material you’ve used during your time at Kingswood, please let me know. We want to have all that your creativity needs to express yourself.
Keep in touch with us to learn the details of the 2022 programs in the next Kingsword and on our social media pages beginning on the first day of spring.
Youth Retreat 2022
Kingswood invites youth ages 12-16 to the 2022 Winter Youth Retreat from February 25-27, 2022.
The weekend will be a time of connecting with peers, with oneself, and with God utilizing Kingswood as the backdrop. During these hectic and uncertain times it is important to take time to reflect in a safe and supporting atmosphere and this is the perfect event to do so.
The youth group will have the entire Kingswood property to themselves, including the warm and cozy farmhouse. When we are not out and about exploring, sledding, or playing winter inspired games we will be spending time cooking, laughing, and sharing together around the warm wood burning stove.
There is some uncertainty of whether or not this event will take place due to the ever-changing Covid-19 pandemic, but we are doing all we can in order to make it happen. This includes following all CDC and New York State Health guidelines for overnight camps. All participants and staff will have to show proof of vaccination or provide a negative PCR or rapid test 3-5 days prior to the event. Masks will also be worn in all indoor areas except when eating, sleeping, and showering.
This video will guide you through making a reservation.
Meet the Administrative Team
Fall 2021 began with a new administrative model for Kingswood. The job behind the scenes to keep Kingswood moving forward for the next season is massive. It is now shared among four people.
Lynn Grainger is the administrative director. The website, getting the reservation system up and running for the upcoming season, answering general questions, booking the farmhouse and keeping everyone who needs to know in the loop of communication are some of Lynn’s responsibilities..
From Lynn, “I began coming to Kingswood during the summer of 2015 for welding camp, the first summer I had an empty nest. Since then I have enjoyed camping in my RV and in equipped sites. Little by little my family and some friends have come along and enjoyed Kingswood with me. Last summer I was the program director for 4 weeks, and I am planning on sharing that job again next summer. It was so much fun working with families on different projects and meeting new people. I just retired this past June after 38 years of teaching elementary school. I enjoy traveling, but Kingswood is where I go to relax and recharge. Even when I’m working there, I find a quiet place to just be.”
Nelvie Howard is the person behind the increased presence of Kingswood on social media. Nelvie is providing information, inspiration and humor daily. Give Nelvie a shout out by liking her post on Facebook or Instagram. Be sure to click on the daily stories for inspiration, information and maybe a a chuckle or two.
“In 2009 my son was invited by a family friend to Kingswood. Since our boys are best friends, we thought it would be a good experience for them. After the first night, we decided to take a drive up just to make sure he was fine. We were impressed by how friendly everyone was and by the overall beauty of Kingswood. We have returned every year since. Some of our favorite things to do at Kingswood are volunteering at Stone Ministry, hiking, attending Sunday service and relaxing by the lake. Our boys are now young men (20 & 21) and they still enjoy camping at Kingswood every year. I am now excited to be part of the Kingswood team and to tell our story though our social media platforms.”
The person in charge of reservations for 2022 is Dale Meck. Dale is in the process of learning more about the online reservation system, so she can answer your question and make changes as needed to reservations. Dale is looking forward to joining the admin team and connecting with other Kingswood friends, both old and new!
From Dale, “My family and I first started camping at Kingswood about 25 years ago when our children were young. As our family needs changed, so did our camping style. We went from a tent, to a pop-up, to an RV, to an equipped site. We have camped with the family dogs, brought along aging friends, and one summer we brought our 2 French exchange students to share the joys and adventures of camping with us.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of helping to design the labyrinth at Kingswood. I have walked it during various seasons of my life, and am always moved to experience the presence of God in a new way. I especially enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the lake, and most afternoons you can find me swimming out to the dock, or sitting on the beach just taking it all in. I also enjoy an evening stroll along the water‘s edge in hopes of catching a beaver munching his dinner nearby. Most recently, after experiencing several losses in my life, I went to Kingswood for a few days to find peace and healing and serenity. As I had hoped, God met me there.”
Rachel Bortin takes on projects as assigned to support the camp. She updated all of our databases this fall. Most importantly Rachel is in charge of youth programming. Look for information in this newsletter for more about the upcoming youth retreat she is leading in February.
From Rachel, “I have been going to Kingswood my entire life. I started going as a baby with my family and later attended the Woodsmoke program. Woodsmoke was a one/two week sleep away camp for youth grades 5th-12th. Through that program I built a variety of things at Kingswood that you see today including the playground and The Pines kitchen shelter! I later worked at Woodsmoke as a counselor and then went on to work as Program Director for Kingswood. Kingswood holds a very special place in my heart and I have met my closet friends there. It has had a huge influence on my personal, spiritual, and professional life. Due to the impact Kingswood has had on me, I attained a Master’s degree in outdoor and environmental education. I am honored and excited to bring back youth programming to Kingswood!
Reservations for 2022 Opening January 3rd!
By Lynn Grainger
If you’re like my family, you’ve already started discussing what dates you want to camp for the 2022 Season. Here are the 2022 Season Opening Dates so your family can plan as well:
Week-Long Reservations Open January 3
Shorter Stays Open March 15
The camping season is from Friday, June 24 – Monday, September 5
We have moved our reservation process to a new system last year, and all reservations including Tent & Trailer and RV will go through that system.
If you’re new to the system, you’ll be able to create a camper profile and log in each year to rebook.
If you used the system last year, log in and get started.
Credit Cards will be accepted (you don’t be prompted to PayPal any longer).
There will be a $3.50 booking fee, which the company lowered for us based on the length of our season.
We have an interactive online map for Equipped Sites, RV, and Tent and Trailer all in one place. (The booking program calls our Equipped Sites: Rental Units.)
You can add additional camper information right from your reservation screen as it gets closer to your date… no more multiple emails with various registration forms.
As always, we’ll be here to help you. You can call the farmhouse directly at 607.637.5407 during the season. Off season you can text or call me (Lynn Grainger, the Kingswood Administrator) with questions at 607.301.0640. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will work on getting back to everyone as quick as possible!
Volunteer Spotlight – Hayley Winship
“I am grateful to Kingswood for the freedom, friendships and lessons it has given me. I am blessed to have such a place of love and joy to call my Home Away from Home “
Hayley Winship is a Junior at Oneonta College and a lifelong Kingswood volunteer! An October baby, Hayley has spent time every summer of her life here at Kingswood. She calls it her “grounding element” and says she was literally raised here by the Kingswood ‘village’.
In middle school, when she had to log volunteer hours for Girl Scouts and the National Honor Society, Hayley realized she had been volunteering her entire life! Haley’s first Kingswood memories, at 4 or 5 years old, are picking up sticks at the tent sites and clearing the ground with the other children during set up. By age 11 she was given a key, the one that opens the store and the ice cream freezer. She relished the responsibility as she showed campers around the store and sold ice cream. Hayley especially enjoyed stacking wood; driving the loaded golf cart from the woodshed to the wood stand in the parking lot!
Like most teens, Hayley didn’t want her parents always telling her what to do and in middle school began volunteering to work on crews separate from them. And she began to bring friends to camp to volunteer with her. The bond with friends who showed interest in and enjoyment of Kingswood became stronger, and it was hard to overlook it if a friend did not appreciate camp.
While continuing to volunteer every set up and take down weekend, Hayley became a staff person as the summer lifeguard in 2018. She enjoyed getting to know how vast and diverse the campers are and how deeply Kingswood impacts them, providing space for a deeper connection to each other and to nature. Kingswood lifeguards live at camp and the job includes buildings and grounds work: cleaning the bath house and lawn mowing. The experience of working and living on her own and having responsibility was difficult the first year. But Hayley notes that “the experience has pushed me throughout the rest of my life, I’m not scared to start up a new job. I can make it anywhere.”
Hayley has missed the camaraderie and conversation of set up and take down weekends during this year of Covid. However, she did experience joining a socially distanced group of young adults on a set up weekend and realized they had all grown from the children picking up sticks to becoming an independent work crew!
Hayley has enjoyed camp in all seasons, and encourages us to experience a Kingswood Winter. Staying in the farmhouse, sitting by the fire, long days in the snow and cross-country skiing provide a different kind of Kingswood encounter. She recommends the red trail during or after a snow, describing it as a winter wonderland and the frozen lake as a spark of magic!
For Hayley, Kingswood is that place that is consistent in a crazy life, providing time to hang out with family and family and deepen connections. And while she knows that in the next 5 or 10-years she will be exploring many new opportunities, she is certain she will always come back!
Kingswood 2021: A Note from Our Director
By: Cheryl Winship
How relevant will a camping experience be in the post-pandemic world? Will families continue to value unscheduled days, walking, paddling and swimming, star gazing, conversation, team problem solving and trying new things? The media has been highlighting the importance of physical activity, feeling connected, and being present. If these are what is needed, then camping will remain relevant long into the future and that is what current trends are showing.
Camping got a big boost in popularity over the course of 2020, and it’s not about to stop in 2021. According to Kampgrounds of America’s annual North American Camping Report, 10.1 million people camped for the first time in 2020, over a third of whom cited COVID-19 as a key driver. Though camping popularity was already growing before COVID-19, it experienced a major upward surge since the outbreak of the pandemic. In particular, RV camping has become exceptionally popular as people came to view RV camping as a safe way to travel and avoid crowds. The number of households that own RVs has grown from 7 million to 9.6 million since 2019.
Whether you bring an RV, use our cabin tents with equipped kitchens or bring your own tent, a camping trip to Kingswood involves no schedule – simply being, no internet (unless you go to the barn), just conversation, and never the need to rush anywhere (except perhaps out of the rain). When you first arrive, the kids might say there is nothing to do. No video games, scheduled entertainment, sports events to attend, or bright-colored bouncy houses. The natural environment surrounds them: trees, grass, trails, water, and “nothing“ to do. But, within hours, kids (and more slowly adults) adjust; our senses focus, imagination and curiosity crawl out from their suppressed place in our brain. Opportunities become apparent. As our eyes adjust, we realize there is much to see: life within the pond, the trees within the forest, and the tiniest flowers in the field. It seems so quiet, yet our ears become aware of hundreds of sounds. The imagination sees the downed log as a fort, the field a place to run free, arms spread like a bird, the fire a source of magical stories. Curiosity pulls us to try new skills: kayaking, fire-starting, swimming in a lake, fishing, walking on a log, or making a meal. Creativity follows and you find yourself making up games on the badminton court, painting at the craft area, trying a Dutch oven recipe, and collaborating in storytelling by the fire.
After a stressful year with much time spent at home, nature can be just the medicine that is needed. It offers a nice blend of independent opportunity and family team building. Arguing siblings can spread out and try different things, tired adults can rest at the beach as the kids swim, folks feeling socially isolated can converse with fellow campers in the open air. If you are not sure how relevant camping is for your family, give it a try. We are happy to welcome new as well as lifelong campers to Kingswood’s comfortable camping experience.
By: Sandi Stratton-Gonzalez
“I have managed the last week of summer for over 50 years. It seems like a lot but if you are having fun it goes quickly.” Don Kirby
Don Kirby first came to Kingswood about 60 years ago. Already a long-term volunteer at Sessions Wood, he was invited by the New York Conference Camping Executive to Kingswood. Both were rustic camps. At the time Kingswood was a youth camp with volunteer counselors and four sites, the two Orchards and the two Coves.
Don came to Kingswood for a season and stayed for sixty years! Kingswood provided him the opportunity to work in the outdoors and build community with others. In fact, Don sees the Kingswood tents as symbolic of community, and the teepees as symbolic of the work that we do. He enjoys sleeping outside under canvas, and still does so routinely, unless he is managing and then he stays in the farmhouse.
Soon after Don came to Kingswood the conference run program for youth was discontinued and Kingswood pivoted to become a family camp. Don worked alongside other veteran volunteers David and Karen Taylor and Judy and Bud Swanson in realizing the family camping vision.
From the mid 90-s to 2015 Don was involved with Woodsmoke, the next iteration of Kingswood youth camp. Don volunteered first as photographer, then as “Mr. Foods” responsible for collecting youth-prepared menus, organizing items for purchase and delivering the requested food back to the campsites and then as a staff cook responsible for the meals of non-counseling staff.
An accountant by trade, Don has enjoyed doing the physical work at Kingswood, including years working on the water line, which has always a big challenge. He describes himself as “not a skilled workman but a jack of all trades,” enjoying the learning experience and the constant influx of new people over the years. When I asked Don what keeps him coming back year after year, he said “a feeling that what we do is worthwhile not only in preparing the camp but also in the community that we have up there.”
Don has noticed many positive changes. “In the beginning we didn’t have money to put into stuff,” he said, but now we are getting money coming in supporting stone ministry, folks contributing equipment and skills, restoring the Farm House and keeping the camp in good shape. There is such a wealth of talent among Kingswood volunteers, and management (especially David Taylor and Cheryl Winship) seems to know just how to use the talent for the benefit of the camp community.
Among the challenges Don observes is the loss of the clergy involvement and lack of support for Chapel services. A lifelong Methodist who currently worships at The Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew in Manhattan, Don would love to see a more intentional worship experience restored at Kingswood, including during volunteer events. The other challenge he feels that Kingswood faces is its absence of racial diversity, particularly among the large number of volunteers. Noting that Conference leadership and staff and the Camping Committee include many persons of color, Black, Latinx, and Asians as well as Whites, Don believes that we should work toward a more inclusive volunteer and family camping presence.
On behalf of everyone at Kingswood, volunteers and campers, I raise a glass of profound thanks to you Don Kirby! You have been integral to Kingswood’s success over many decades. In turn Don extends thanks to “all the folks who are at Kingswood, who are a blessing to each other and to our camping population.”
Stone Ministry Fall 2020
In spite of the pandemic Stone Ministry remained a one-of-a-kind program for Kingswood campers throughout the summer of 2020. We just had to modify the way we did certain things to make sure all participants were protected.
We no longer had tractor rides, but campers found their way to Stone Ministry on their own. Of course, we wore masks and tried to stay distanced. We used watering cans to wash stones individually rather than dunking scrub brushes into common buckets. Finally, the mason’s gloves we always wore to do the cementing were worn throughout the process.
Thanks to diligence on the part of camp staff and campers, Kingswood had a very full and vibrant summer without anyone getting the disease.
The core Stone Ministry enthusiasts were disappointed to have to cancel their April weekend working on the slate roof but did have a September weekend doing just that. That slate roof is just magnificent!.
Stone Ministry just completed its 16th year of giving campers the spiritual experience of befriending rejected stones, inscribing them with personal messages and cementing them into our “timeless evolving structure.“ This “wonderfully impractical“ program is well along at creating a temple of diversity where every stone is a keystone.
The core Stone Ministry enthusiasts are looking forward to doing some more slate roofing one weekend next spring and then starting to erect the next phase of the heavy timber roof structure during a weekend in the fall.
Happy Anniversary to Our RV Sites
2020 is the 10th anniversary of Kingswood’s RV camping area.
In 2010 Jack and Dotty Seirup and Andrew Seirup started occupying RV sites numbers 6 and 7. These were the only two sites built at the time. The Site Committee had decided to build just two sites at first as a pilot program.
The RV camping area however was designed for 10 sites total which is what we got approval for from the New York State Department of Health. That required installation of a dumping station that would be satisfactory for the 10 sites if ever built. Also, the entrance road was built to accommodate site numbers 1 through 7.
Three years later, in 2013, the Site Committee decided to build sites 2, 3. and 4, then followed soon after with site number 5.
The cost of developing the first five sites was made affordable by most the labor being provided by Kingswood volunteers. Nevertheless, the investment was significant.
Besides the cost of installing the road, grading sites, creating the dumping station and putting in new waterlines, the RV campground required a nearly thousand foot long buried high-voltage electrical service with full-size transformer and overhead wires on poles.
But even with the sites less than half rented over the last 10 years, that initial investment has been more than paid off. The RV campsites are both a wonderful way to enjoy Kingswood and are also profitable for the camp itself.
Indeed, RV camping at Kingswood is a wonderful experience. These campsites are 80 feet from each other and nestled in the woods, while fronting a picturesque field with views of the mountains and sunsets. Campers get to enjoy all the benefits of our wonderful camp and also have advantages of enclosed RV camping.
Our camp is wonderfully located near the legendary Delaware Rver fishing which makes the RV sites attractive to fisherman.
2020 was the busiest year yet at the RV campground. The Kingswood Directors have decided to build RV site number 1, bringing us up to seven out of the ten eventual sites. Site number 1 should be ready to rent by the end of next summer.
Now there is even some thought about when we might build sites 8, 9 and 10.
Kingswood Chickens and Wings of Refuge
By: Sandy Andrews, Program Director
Chickens! What was the first thing campers saw when arriving at Kingswood in 2020? Chickens! What a happy sight after months of sheltering in place due to the pandemic. The story behind Kingswood’s newest addition is three-pronged with:
roots in the history of the Kingswood site,
the faith traditions from which the United Methodist Church evolved, and
my own personal heritage and upbringing.
Kingswood was once a farm and most likely had chickens.
Kingswood Family Camp, which welcomes all, is part of the United Methodist Church. The UMC believes that ‘the Bible is the primary authority for our faith and practice’ (https://www.umc.org/en/content/our-christian-roots-the-bible). The Bible was written in an agrarian society and likens God to a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings.
With this in mind, bringing a bit of farm life back to Kingswood seemed only natural. We built and installed a sturdy predator-resistant coop near the parking lot. The addition of deterrents, including electric fencing and blinking laser lights, seemed to keep predators away. From opening day on June 26 to the last day on September 7, my 10 hens were the first to greet campers as they arrived and the last to bid them farewell as they departed. Everyone from toddlers to seniors was excited to meet the Kingswood hens. Campers got to participate in morning and evening chores, letting them out in the morning, feeding and replenishing water for them, and (maybe best of all!) gathering eggs to take back to their sites for breakfast. If a camper was there on the right day, the attached mini garden offered up summer squash or peppery nasturtiums. It was fun watching the hens jump up to peck at a dangling apple and chase after the re-purposed gum container that held their treat of chicken scratch. They learned to kick the container around and peck at the drilled holes to get morsels of cracked corn, oats, and other grain seeds. Campers enjoyed holding the hens and discovering how soft they were. Little Dominique was the most accommodating volunteer for this task.
While the campers learned some interesting facts about chickens, I was surprised to learn how many of our visitors had their own chickens, even in their suburban backyards, or had experienced chickens in other settings, such as the brothers who recounted visiting their grandfather who had chickens – in the Philippines. I was touched by the teen who cooked eggs for his girlfriend the next day from eggs they hand-picked from the nest box. I appreciated my helpers for the week, who faithfully showed up to assist with chores. Even the extra precautions needed to make Kingswood safe for all seeking a respite from the pandemic brought a bit of fun – people enjoyed using the battery-operated sprayer to wash their hands.
I hope that all of the 2020 campers felt the figurative open arms of Kingswood welcoming them as they sought refuge, respite, and relaxation from society’s turmoil. May the memories of visiting the Kingswood hens remind you of the image of a protective mother hen gathering her young under her wings, keeping them safe and secure. And if you were not at Kingswood this past summer, I invite you to come next summer, as the hens and quiet refuge of Kingswood will be there again.