Few people will appreciate the whimsy in David’s recent entry; but you will.  Into his second career, David is a full-time youth pastor in a Baptist church and a seminary student.  Check him out.

“There’s a condition that I’ve become aware of this summer.  It is called “Camp Neck”.  It is the direct result of wearing a lanyard with a name tag attached to it for about 17 hours per day, and doing that for 5 days…”  Don’t miss the rest,  go to David’s blog.

While others were enjoying the ocean, I crawled on a picnic table and lapsed into my “after-camp coma.”

What do 200 people with special needs, their pastor, area directors and volunteers do after a four-day weekend at a rustic retreat?  There is only one option–collapse.  Thanks to Ladybug Photography, here are few of the pictorial highlights of our week at Life for Youth Camp in Vero Beach, Florida.  This year our participants ranged from the age of 18 months to 80.  Our theme was “I Am Somebody Because God Loves Me.”  So many of our volunteers brought their children that we had to provide a children’s cabin.  We had Vacation Bible School for the 13 children.

Smiles all around.  Everyone is happy to be back at Retreat/Camp Agape.  It’s a family reunion.

Brian and Julie are ready for their special time together.

The Chicken Walk?
More chickens? Or Elvis? Either way, loads of fun.
Is this a chicken or Tim?
Rev. Richard Stimson, Special Gathering Executive Director. He is not mean. He is only focused.
Together worshiping the Lord
While I’m not a craft person, EVERYONE else is.
Their mothers came to Camp Agape when they were their children's age.  Now their moms are volunteers.Their mothers came to Camp Agape when they were this age. Now the moms are volunteers.
Tarah shadowed Matt during Camp AgapeMy niece, Tarah, had the privilege of shadowing Matthew.

Thanks to LadyBug Photography by Tarah Risher for the great pictures.

Memorial Day is the last day of The Special Gathering’s annual camping experience called Camp Agape. Each year we take more than 200 people to a camp ground for four-days of fun and fellowship.  We return Memorial Day and those of us who have served as staff are totally and completely exhausted.  Our members are mentally challenged and most of them have a secondary physical disability.  As uplifting as this adventure into our cloistered sub-culture may be, it is also filled with mental stress and bodily exertion.

As a result for the last 24 years, Memorial Day has been a day observed but not a day of remembering.  Nevertheless, as the years of war have grown into almost a decade, I am more deeply aware of what these young men and women have given to us.  My heart is moved remembering the sacrifice of our youngest and best adults.

I am blessed to be old enough to remember the Korean War and the resolves made after World War II.  Again and again, we were told by our elders, “We must never again let tyranny and oppression threaten the world with destruction.”  It is the result of the horrible lessons learned during war that we weep at the horrors of battle but continue to send our young adults marching into the face of the unknown.

We pray for peace in the world.  However, we remember the history of the world.  Therefore, we are eternally grateful for the freedom we enjoy.  I always thank God when I read the slogan of a bumper sticker of a rusty and battered truck, “Freedom is not free.”

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/simplelife/?p=625#ixzz1NMobbFU3

By 7:30am this morning, I will be heading to First United Methodist Church to set up for luggage pickup for Camp Agape.  Because we also provide transportation to our camp, there is the additional struggle with luggage.  By 11:30 we will be at camp and herding folks into the chapel area so that we can set up the cabins with luggage on their beds and pillows in place.

Most of you know and understand the stress of camp.  You also know the need for prayer.  Therefore, my main concern is prayer for the health and safety of our members and volunteers.  Please pray for us.

God gives us the Power to change our lives

Ephesians 6:7

Central Theme:  God wants us to serve others.


Introduction–A man told me that he saw a man mopping up a spill.  He said to the man mopping the floor, “I assume you are the manager.”  The bosses in stores get to do the dirty work.  God’s way is to promote us into becoming a servant to everyone.  Have a member read Ephesians 6:7.

       I.     Tell the story of James’ and John’s mother and Dorcas. 

          A. Mom wanted James and John to be number one in the Kingdom.

              B. Dorcas knew how to be number one.

                   1.  She was a servant to everyone.

      II.     At Special Gathering, no one gets too big to do the dirty work.

              A. Show the fanny packs we use at camp.

                   1.  They have rubber gloves because the people who wear the fanny packs get to clean up messes–nasty messes.

              B. We had a staff one time who told me that he didn‘t clean up messes any more that he had “paid his dues”–that was the wrong answer for working with Special Gathering.

     III.     God wants us all to be the servant.       

              A. Our deacons get the jobs that no one else wants to do.

              B. They don‘t get to push the wheel chairs. 

              C. They get to clean the floors, set up tables and chair, etc.

Conclusion The heart of a real man of God must be to serve others.

Special Gathering’s 

Camp Agape 2011


Friday, May 27 to Monday, May 30

For information, contact

Linda G. Howard at lhoward@specialgatherings.com

Richard O. Stimson at rstimson@specialgatherings.com

Costs are from $160 to $230, depending on level of supervision.

Retreat/Camp Agape is a held at Life for Youth Camp in Vero Beach, Florida

1462 82nd Avenue

Activities for the weekend include chapel twice a day, paddle boat, speed boat, pontoon boat, go-carts, putt-putt golf, basketball, crafts, game room, water slide, swimming and snack bar.

All cabins are air-conditioned.  Chapel attendance is required.  Registered nurse on the camp grounds and on-duty 24-hours a day.  All med administered by nurse for Camp Agape attendees.  People attending Retreat Agape must be able to administer their own meds. 

To volunteer, you must have a reference letter from your pastor and attend our training seminar.