Kingswood is covered in snow and ice, and I’m staying in the warm farmhouse with short ventures out for a breath of fresh air. This is the second time I’ve been part of the Media Blitz weekend, and it’s been highly productive.
Holly Moore and Kelly Pfeister facilitated the work to create about 200 Facebook posts for the upcoming year last weekend. Kelly provided her expertise from North Carolina to the eight on-site participants through videos and Zoom video conferences. One of the perks that comes with this weekend work is Carol Stidworthy’s home-cooked delicious meals. It’s a time to renew friendships and to make new Kingswood friends too.
Usually when I come to Kingswood it’s time to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. I do lots of sitting and reflecting, reading and hiking. Like most people I check my mail using the Internet at the barn, however I strive to be more unplugged. But here I sit all weekend in the farmhouse with my computer on my lap, writing, revising and sharing to Google Drive posts to be used later to entice people through their social media sites to leave their harried, stressed world to visit God’s creation at Kingswood. It feels a bit odd to me, but I’m grateful for this volunteer opportunity to support the place I love. Be sure to follow the Facebook page for a variety of posts featuring the best of Kingswood. Be sure to like the Kingswood Campsite page and share the posts you like on your page to make Kingswood more visible to a larger community.
My first memory of Kingswood is in the late 1960’s. Several young families from Warwick would come up on Memorial Day weekend. Most of us had pop-up or tent campers, and we would set up in a circle across from the farmhouse. This was long before there was a parking lot in that spot.
One weekend, I remember we had a campfire going, and one of my daughters was sitting on my lap. Some of you may know that Kingswood has a variety of rocks that when they get heated up, will explode. Well you can probably guess the rest of the story. Yup! A rock got too hot and blew hot coals over my little girl and me. Thank the Lord, we escaped unharmed.
Another experience about the same timeframe: Same folks, same circle with a campfire in the middle (different year than before). When we went to bed, our fire was a bed of hot coals. During the night, something woke me up, and there were flames in the circle. I jumped out of bed yelling “fire, fire.” Lawton’s fly had fallen, and a corner of it fell into the fit pit and over time it caught fire. I pulled it out of the fire and stomped it out. The next morning I couldn’t remember having put on shoes, yet the soles of my feet were fine. Once again, the good Lord was watching over us.
This story took place around 1980, in the winter. Back then the Town of Tompkins did not do a very good job on our end of the road. Bob Porter and I were at Kingswood with my daughter Cheryl (Winship) and my son Bruce. I don’t remember who else may have been there. We said “How about it we tow you two kids to the top of the town road on your sleds and let you sled back down on the icy, snow covered road?” Boy, did they jump at the opportunity! Up the road we towed them with Harry, gray tractor (Kingswood got Harry 50 years ago with the purchase of the farm). At the top, where the mailboxes are today, we let them go. As I remember the experience, Bruce got down around T&T and “bailed out.” He couldn’t take the speed! Cheryl kept on her sled past the farmhouse, down through the woods, and stopped on the flats near the Barney Smith farmhouse (now owned by John Hurley). Note: never did it again.
One more and I’ll quit!
As I remember…the old faithful tractor, Harry, needed a major repair. This story happened in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s.
Some of our younger works had Harry down in the field across from the farmhouse when something snapped in the rear end of the tractor. We towed Harry to the barn and did some checking and determined the problem was the ring gear or pinion gear. I did some research to see if we could get parts for such an old tractor. We found we could get new or used parts from a couple of different places. During the winter months Bob Green, Bob Porter’s brother-in-law, and I separated the tractor into two pieces and pulled the rear wheels and axles so we could get to the ring and pinion. The pinion gear had snapped into two pieces, the ring gear was ok. Ordered the parts and put it back together all in the barn, in the winter, with no heat. Oh, what we do and call it fun!
Written in June 2009 for From Hathaway Farm to Kingswood Campsite, the book of stories compiled for Kingswood’s 50th anniversary.
Our amphibian friends are a hallmark of the Kingswood experience. The sounds of peepers at night and frogs by the lake comfort the seasoned Kingswood camper. The delicate and subtle sight of a newt’s nose just barely breaking the surface of the lake is a peaceful reminder of the tranquilly that pervades the quieter corners of the lake.
The fact that we have so many different amphibians living at Kingswood is a good sign–amphibians are considered indicator species for ecologists. Indicator species are plants, animals, or other living things whose presence in a place can say a lot about the cleanliness and health of the ecosystems. Why might these amphibians be such good indicator species? It all comes down to their skin!
Why their skin? Adult amphibians do not have very complex or large lungs–in fact some have no lungs at all! In addition to this, even if an adult amphibian has lungs, it doesn’t have a diaphragm and must pump air into its lungs with its cheeks or throat–a very inefficient process and the characteristic in-and-out movement of a frog’s throat. So how can adult amphibians make up for their inefficient lungs? By breathing through their skin!
So why does breathing through their skin have anything to do with them being an indicator species? In order for amphibians to breathe through their skin, it must be extremely thin and stay moist. Chemicals or other substances that harm living things easily and quickly can pass into the body of an amphibian through their thin skin. In this way, the disappearance of amphibians from an environment can act as an early warning sign for environmental trouble. As an important aside: this is also why it’s important to not hold our froggy friends if you have bug spray or sun screen on your hands–the chemicals in these products could easily pass into their bodies.
So next time you walk around the Kingswood lake, be thankful for the cheery blurps and plops as frogs leap into the water. And remember to let them be if your hands aren’t clean!
1978. This is the first year since we were married that I did not work at least two jobs, and Judy is working for the Methodist Church of Sea Cliff. That is how we knew about Kingswood. We are in our early thirties, our oldest child, John Jr. is 12, Joy is 10, and Debi is 7. The only one of the five of us that has ever done any camping is John St., and that was quite some time ago. We have a family meeting to discuss the idea of the whole thing, and it’s decided, by Judy, that as long as there are no snakes, we can try it for a week.
We arrive in early July, after the fourth, but before the 19th. We are a family of five, plus our faithful dog, Tyr, packed up in an aging Pontiac sedan. We are staying in Far overlook. The car will not go up the mountain. It’s so loaded it keeps bottoming out on the road. The road in 1978 was a couple of wheel ruts, with a high center. Judy, the three kids, and the dog, have to walk up. Of course Judy is wearing open toed sandals, and as she is walking into the site from the first overlook, a snake slithers across her foot. Not even looking down, she says to me, “Was that was I think it was?” After we got that taken care of, we busied ourselves with the unpacking and setting up. I think we arrived on a Sunday. Good God it was beautiful. We slept like dead wood that night. Some time on Monday, the manager came up to visit.
I do not recall who it was, but he told us that there were some storms forecasted for later that day, and that it was going to get a little chilly that night. He offered us extra blankets because we had no sleeping bags. We went to the barn and got blankets for everyone. Everything was fine. Have you ever been inside a thunderstorm? Oh my God! Just about the time I thought it could not rain any harder, God showed me the folly of my thinking. That night, we slept in a refrigerator. I’m sorry, the manager said, “a little chilly.”
It was very cold that night. There weren’t enough blankets in the barn to keep us warm. We had had the dog shaved before we came to camp. Our thinking was that would keep the burrs off, and allow us to spot any ticks easier. Without any fur, the dog could not get warm. He kept pacing the tent floor just to try and create heat for himself. At about three in the morning, Judy finally brought him into bed with her. He and the rest of us drifted off to sleep.
The rest of the week was great. We relaxed, the kids hooked up with the Swanson kids and ran and played and swam, the dog spent days trying to catch a deer and would disappear for hours only to come back and sleep for hours more. As we were packing the car, getting ready to the only family vacation we had had in 10 years, I casually asked everyone, “Wanna try two weeks next year?”
This year we are coming for three weeks. Our 31st straight year. My son and his family will come up for a while. My daughter and her family are coming up for a week. We have good friends that will be staying in the tent next to ours. We have a young friend joining us for the second week of Woodsmoke. There is something about this place that puts peace in your heart. You can sit back and work out the knots, and let the everyday worries slide into the background. Kingswood is family, friends, good times, and peaceful relation all rolled into a beautiful setting. What a place to be.
Written in June 2009 for From Hathaway Farm to Kingswood Campsite, the book of stories compiled for Kingswood’s 50th anniversary.
I discovered the Kingswood community through the Welding Camp in the summer of 2015. As a seasoned educator I’ve discovered the importance of remembering what it is like to learn something new, and I’ve made that part of my practice annually for the past 10 years or so. In each experience I’m reminded of the risk involved in learning as well as the joy. But that summer I gained so much more than the experience of learning something new and a rudimentary understanding of welding. I found a community of Christian people who believe in the restorative experiences in nature and care passionately for each other and the property.
I learned about Kingswood from the annual brochure that comes to our church. I saw the adult camp listings and decided to call Holly to find out more about Welding Camp. All summer I looked forward to that few days away.
From the moment I arrived at the campsite and was greeted so enthusiastically by the managers, I knew I was in a unique community. I followed JoJo up to Hogan and marveled at the beauty of the place. My initial impression of the campsite brought me back to my childhood Girl Scout camp experiences with the platform tent. But when I saw the shelter and the fully equipped site, I better understood the Kingswood camping concept I read about in the brochure.
The weekend was delightful with all the gourmet meals prepared by Peter and Keith. I enjoyed the long walks back and forth from Hogan to the Barn. (I didn’t want my car to bottom out on the rocks as it did on my way in.) I had so much fun, I rented Maples for Labor Day weekend to relax before returning to work.
The following summer I invited my daughter to join me for a few days, and she insisted on bringing her grandfather. So we found a time the Pines was available, so my dad could more easily navigate the site independently. My dad wasn’t here for an hour before we were off looking for a cell phone signal because he wanted my mom to join us. It was such an undertaking to get my dad with limited mobility up into the hay wagon, but being in the deep woods for the first time in years brought him such serenity. At Stone Ministry Peter showed such respect for my dad’s knowledge as we added several stones. When my mom arrived she found joy in her conversations with people at the beach and the campfire, and especially her conversations with Marilyn.
One of my biggest disappointments this past year was not being able to be program director last summer as planned due to my parents’ illnesses. I didn’t get here until The Deep Green Journey in October. As soon as I hit the property a peace I had not experienced in a long time overtook me, and for that weekend I was able to forget my life’s demands as daughter, mother and educator.
In this season of life with big changes, Kingswood will be a place of renewal for me.
An unlikely camping family we were – accustomed to life in a Manhattan apartment where tents and campfires, deer, raccoon, and an occasional bear were never envisioned, let alone experienced. Our pastor, Phil West, repeatedly told us about Kingswood and insisted we would love camping. So in the summer of 1974, with a four-year-old and a toddler, we had our first Kingswood experience. What we remember most about that first camping trip was the tent in our Hogan campsite that resemble a “covered wagon.” We had seen something that looked more like a real tent on the road up to Hogan and were able to move into one of the Orchard sites.
That first summer began what have now been thirty-four summer camping trips to Kingswood. We haven’t missed a summer! We’ve had friends and family join us at various times. We’ve even had our staff from the ministry we direct (New Life of New York City) at Kingswood campsites for a staff retreat. Of all those who have joined us, some loved it, for others camping wasn’t their thing. We’ve introduced city kids (from our ministry) to sleeping in tents and eating outside and enjoyed using the Kingswood farmhouse for outreach retreats in the winter.
For many years Kingswood was that wonderful contrast from city life where we, as a family of four, relaxed, played, fished, read, and looked for salamanders and snakes. Then came the day when our sons were old enough for summer jobs. What were we to do? Kingswood was our family spot! We decided it would work for just the two of us (Bo and Mary) and so it has! For us, it has been our haven where we can’t wait to get to on the first day camp opens every summer. After a year of challenges being involved in ministry, raising the budget, and managing a demanding schedule, Kingswood for us is a time of restoration and rejuvenation. The beauty and solitude are a balm to our souls and, yes, we do tend to hibernate (except when Bo’s out on the lake pulling in the big ones) while we’re at Kingswood, but only because we’re soaking in the quiet, calm, soothing surroundings. No doubt about it, we’ve met some of the most wonderful people ever at Kingswood and especially appreciate those who serve as camp managers.
There isn’t a place in the world that is more inviting for us to be than Kingswood. Several years ago good friends offered us the great gift of a ten-day cruise to Scandinavian countries. When we heard it would overlap with our time at Kingswood we told them “we’d think about it and get back to them.” Now that we think about it, we can’t believe we said that, but it’s how strongly we feel about Kingswood. (We went on the cruise).
In the last few years, our youngest son and his family have been joining us, and we’ve come full circle to family camping again, although we make sure there’s at least a week for just ‘Bo and Mary’ time. We honestly can’t imagine our lives without our beloved Kingswood. For us it has been the greatest blessing!
Written in June 2009 for From Hathaway Farm to Kingswood Campsite, the book of stories compiled for Kingswood’s 50th anniversary
72 volunteers gathered for Set Up weekend to get Kingswood ready for summer. It was a success! 38 families, 8 families who were new to volunteering at Kingswood, 20 UMC churches represented and 7 other-than-UMC-churches represented. Quite a crew!
Tents were put up, grass was mowed, and fun was had. Check out these photos from volunteers Don Shogren and Valerie Lee Minton.
Couldn’t make Set Up? If you like hiking and using a weed hacker or clippers, join us for Trailblazing, Friday, June 8 – Sunday, June 10.
This is a volunteer event for energetic folks who are in good physical shape and who love long days in the woods in any kind of weather. Bring shoes and clothes that you won’t mind getting splattered with mud and paint. The work is hard, but the rewards have included spotting fawns, close encounters with hawks and many interesting amphibians, and discovering wild flowers.
Make sure to email Cheryl Winship at: email@example.com if you’re coming!
Since the early 1960’s, Kingswood has depended on volunteers to care for it. A small group of outdoors enthusiasts who liked and maintained it then, has become a large, diverse, growing community. Although these volunteers serve for many reasons, they share a common, deep satisfaction in the experience of “giving back.” There are more opportunities now than ever before to be of service, and a variety of skills are needed to operate this very successful site.
Kingswood has two ministries: hosting family and adult campers during the summer and providing Woodsmoke, one-week camping events for youth, during part of the summer. What has made these Kingswood ministries successful is the service of volunteers. Folks who empathize with these ministries enjoy being there with others whose beliefs they share. Some like the physical work of maintaining and building Kingswood. Others serve as summer staff. Others care for its planning, publicity, and administrative needs.
Over time, being in service has become the attractive feature of Kingswood. Service is its third ministry. We host seven service events yearly, plus two planning meetings, plus special project events.
Kingswood volunteers come from all different backgrounds. Some begin serving because of their experience camping here, some because of a connection with Woodsmoke, some have married into the tradition, others have come along for the first time with a friend. A number of our volunteers are third generation volunteers (just as we have a growing numbers of inter-generational family campers).
What does volunteering look like at Kingswood? For one thing, unlike volunteering at other places where the staff would be organizing work events, at Kingswood a work event is organized and run entirely by volunteers. Volunteering at Kingswood usually begins with participating in one of the seven annual service events held throughout the year: Set-Up (Memorial Day weekend) when the tents are set up and the camp begins to wake up, Take-Down (the weekend after Labor Day) when the campsites are taken apart, two Senior Weeks (just before camp opens and just after camp closes) when folks sterilize dishes, scrub pots and stoves and coolers at the end of the season and in June, basically get the campsites ready for use, two Men and Teenage Boys’ Work Weekends for building and maintenance project work, and Trail Blazing Weekend in June. As one Kingswood leaders said, “At these events we need people to haul, lift, carry, clean, scrub, cook, and organize.
Throughout the year other folks volunteer as camp managers for one week in the summer becoming the “face of Kingswood” as they offer hospitality, mow, clean, answer phones, make ice, take reservations, and generally keep the camp running smoothly for the week. Others work behind the scenes doing such work as purchasing, bookkeeping, taking water samples, designing and building improvements to our physical facilities, doing electrical and plumbing jobs, maintaining the grounds, doing clerical work, website design, vehicle maintenance, photography, publicity, developing programs for family camp, leading Sunday services, working at Stone Ministry, visiting churches to spread the word about Kingswood, maintaining the playground, keeping up first aid supplies, leading retreats, presenting Adult Camp programs, cooking for Adult Camps, planting flowers around the site, helping during Woodsmoke.
We are particularly in need of volunteers who have expertise in technology, publicity, use of social media, video, photography, forestry, knowledge, and natural history.
A very special expression of volunteerism at camp can be seen in the Woodsmoke Service Projects. Woodsmoke volunteering began about 22 years ago when a few Woodsmoke campers thought it would be a good idea to have a bridge across the creek (thus Jungle Pass was born). They asked for some wood and nails and built it. The concept of campers giving back was born and we have never looked back. Read the Woodsmoke article in this edition for a list of the Woodsmoke projects completed over the years. In addition to learning new skills and practicing the teamwork learned in the campsite, Woodsmoke campers (and their parents) gain a satisfaction from the completed project and from knowing that the work they have done remains at Kingswood as a witness to their “giving back.”
So why do so many people choose to give back at Kingswood? There are probably as many reasons for volunteering as there are people who volunteer! This is what we hear:
“It’s fun!” Working along with a group of people is really enjoyable.
“You get to know people and they become life-long friends.”
“The Kingswood community of volunteers becomes a support system similar to a church community. We attend each other’s family weddings and funerals and offer support.”
Give and take of ideas. Collaboration of people with a variety of skills and backgrounds, expertise, and age diversity.
“I like that decisions are made basically by consensus.”
“This is a place I want my children to enjoy. I volunteer because I want Kingswood to be a part of their lives.” Kids at volunteer events quickly learn about the fun and satisfaction of working together, absorbing the work ethic of the other volunteers as they work hard alongside folks from 5 to 85 (as well each decade in between) and then relax and play together afterwards.
“I love Kingswood. I love the way God seems so close here. I want to help make sure that Kingswood remains so others can have the experience of renewal and spiritual rejuvenation that I have here.”
So why don’t you consider “giving back” at Kingwood? It’s fun, you’ll meet new friends, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping Kingswood Campsite to continue its ministry. Join us for Set Up Weekend, May 25-28. Register here!
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say that they would never go camping. If you never gone camping how do you know you hate it? I tried it once and now six years later, I can’t wait to go again. I bet if you went camping just once you would love it.
I’m about to tell you one reason that you might not like camping, but just please don’t stop reading. The reason is… you don’t have some electronics when you go camping. I said some electronics because you still have phones and ipads but you can’t plug a 55 inch flat screen T.V. in a tent for two. You would be surprised what you can learn, if you take a break from your electronics. You could learn more about the people around you.
Another great thing about camping is it’s healthy to go camping. You’re probably on your phone, or watching T.V. a lot, but when you go camping your eyes get a break from all those screens and you are more active. Also when you go camping you can spend more time with friends and family, and being social is good.
I saved the reason to go camping for last and it’s because this is my favorite part of camping. It is the activities! There are so many activities to do when you go camping. If I told you about all of them I be here forever, so I’m only going to tell you about a few. They are boating, cooking, and star gazing. Boating is definitely one of my favorite activities because it is so peaceful out in the lake. When I go out it’s just me and my dad spending time together. Once I saw a teenage girl in a kayak reading because it was so peaceful. You might think that cooking is boring, but not when you make it over a fire. When you have to make a fire and cook your food you can feel independent. Don’t forget about the sky. At night when you look up you don’t really realize that there millions of stars in the sky that is probably because you can’t see them well at home. Well, when you go camping it is like the sky is lit up with millions of tiny lights.
For all of these reasons are why people saying that they would never go camping really bothers me. Remember you never know you like something until you try it.
It was by far my favorite moment of the entire year. It was 1974 and somehow I had managed to fall asleep the night before, but now in the pre-dawn hours I was wide awake. I could hear my family- my mom and dad and 4 older siblings– whispering their preparations for our week at Kingswood. In a little while we would negotiate the station wagon and pop-up trailer out of town for the 4 hour drive to Hancock, NY.
Back then, our relationship with Kingswood began simply as an inexpensive week of camping. Little did we know that from the moment we arrived it would become so much more.
Kingswood is a place that continues to give deep and meaningful gifts to our family: the beauty of nature, the chill of the lake, the silence of soft evenings, the unique smell of the deep wood ferns, the sight of a beaver at dusk, the adventure of the barn, the snap of a campfire and the joy of being together.
Forty years later, the tug of ‘home’ continues to reach out to our family as we still manage to find each other at Kingswood each summer. My mom and dad, my brothers and sister and now their children and their mates and friends gather from all across the country – this year, over 20 in all from Minnesota to Kentucky to New York and Pennsylvania as we spread out over 5 equipped sites. I am overjoyed to see the ‘next generation’ exploring, trying new things, experiencing life and finding that a break from technology can be a renewing experience!
It is impossible to tell the story that Kingswood has meant to each of us individually: a meaningful hike with a loved one, special early-morning coffee with our parents, prayerful time alone by the lake, a canoe ride with a niece or nephew, the gift of time apart from the world to remember God’s gifts.
Kingswood Campsite is looking for a summer lifeguard!
Do you like
waking up to birdsongs and grazing deer and going to sleep hearing bullfrogs and watching fireflies and the Milky Way?
meeting interesting people of all ages?
spends each afternoon at the beach
keeps the bathhouse clean and inviting
uses equipment to maintain the waterfront area
This position starts June 22nd and goes through September 2nd . It has been a 10-week position, but we are open to hiring persons for several weeks at a time, rather than for the entire summer.
If you or someone you know is Red Cross certified, or an avid swimmer interested in getting Red Cross certification, and at least 18 years old, please contact us.
The lifeguard stays in one of the cabins on site and works 6 hours per day – 6 days per week. The job includes cleaning of the bathhouse and maintaining the swimming and boating areas as well as four hours of guarding per day.