The Greater New Jersey Conference of the United Methodist Church has suspended its summer camp programs at its two camps for the summer, Aldersgate Camp in Sussex County and Pinelands Center at Mt. Misery in Burlington County.
Camping Ministries Board Chair Jennifer Lovallo shared the bad news in an email to the conference’s mailing list on Wednesday:
This means there will be no summer camping ministry at either site while we take time to reassess the camping ministry and identify how we will best serve our young people in the future. Many of us have strong connections to our camps and we understand that this news is difficult for all United Methodists in Greater New Jersey.
The email noted that the camping ministry has had deficits of $2 million over the last five years, including $587,000 in 2013 and that the number of campers has declined by 20 percent in the past three years.
Some of the reasons cited for the decline include less young people in the conference’s churches – a 60 percent decline over the past 40 years – families taking more time for vacations and competition from specialty sports, academic and music camps.
As a New Jersey native who grew up in the Methodist church, I’m extremely saddened by this news and hope the camping ministry will be able to provide some form of summer camp opportunity to young people in the future.