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New director begins work with Camps and Retreat Ministries

New director begins work with Camps and Retreat Ministries

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

New director begins work with Camps and Retreat Ministries

Feb. 24, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
407-897-1184     Orlando  {0254}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

LEESBURG — Youth gather on the dock at the Warren W. Willis United Methodist Youth Camp during a summer camp week. Since 1948, the camp has been providing a natural space for people of all ages to grow spiritually. Photo by Michael Wacht, Photo #05-0143.

LAKELAND — Some of the most priceless moments of the Rev. David Berkey's life were spent at summer camp when he was a boy. That's why he's excited to breathe new life into the Florida Conference's Camps and Retreat Ministries as its new executive director.

Berkey has been working part time in the position since the middle of January, but will be on board full time beginning March 1. Berkey is relocating from the East Pennsylvania Conference where he served as director of its Camp, Retreat and Nurture Ministries.

"This is a wonderful time to be involved in leadership and to work with the new board," he said. "I want to be more about ministry."

The new board was part of a proposal to realign the camps and retreat ministries that was approved at the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event. The Board of Camps and Retreat Ministries or (BCRM) was created to unite the Lake Asbury Retreat Center in North Florida, the South Florida Camp near Alva and both the Life Enrichment Center and Warren W. Willis Camp in Leesburg.

BCRM will oversee the facilities and establish a vision and mission for them, develop a comprehensive master plan and long- and short-term goals, support the facilities, and maintain the properties.

As executive director, Berkey will work with the board to accomplish those goals, as well as develop new ministries and manage the facilities and senior staff at each location.

Berkey, who has visited the Lake Asbury Retreat Center and the Life Enrichment Center, said all of the facilities offer great possibilities.

"They are tremendous," he said. "They have a lot to offer for training and spiritual growth. They can be a place for healing and learning for all people."

Berkey had his first experience with summer camp during his fifth-grade year in elementary school. His enthusiasm grew throughout the years and reached a high point when he was 17-years-old. He had an experience that made him realize he felt closest to God in natural, outdoor settings.

"It was a powerful transforming experience," he said. "I just love wide open spaces."

Berkey has remained faithful to his outdoor affection by leading one junior high school lesson per week during summer camp. He said he enjoys that age, when children are exploring their identity and just playing and having fun.

"We just hang out and do crazy things together," he said.

An avid fan of four distinct seasons, Berkey at first thought he might be "mad" to leave Pennsylvania, but he says he's certain he made the right decision.

"I am very excited about moving to Florida," he said. "I have felt the call to move here every step of the way. It is definitely the right thing to do. God was in this every step of the way."


This article relates to Conference Camps and Retreat Center Ministries.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.