“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!
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.
“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.”
If you’re like my family, you’ve already started discussing what dates you want to camp for the 2021 Season. This also means your countdown to New Year’s gets a +1 until Kingswood opens its reservations for the season. Here are the 2021 Season Opening Dates so your family can plan as well:
Week-Long Reservations Open January 2nd
Shorter Stays Open March 15th
The camping season is from Friday, June 25th – Monday, September 6th
There were a lot of changes in 2020, and we’re changing a few things to our reservations process, too… In hopes of reaching more campers we’re working on moving our reservations process to a new system. Those who book a week-long stay before our new booking engine software is complete will receive a $5 discount.
There will be a few differences once the system rolls out:
You’ll be able to create a camper profile and log in each year to rebook.
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’ll have an interactive online map for Equipped Sites, RV, and Tent and Trailer all in one place.
You’ll be able to 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. We’re also introducing a new texting number! Off season you can text or call me (Rachael, the Kingswood Administrator) with questions at 607.301.0640. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be delayed responses, but I will work on getting back to everyone as quick as possible!
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.
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.
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.
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.