Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Youths turn ground for 2 Canyon Camp cabins


At Canyon Camp, adult volunteer Paul Corr and J.E.M. camper Madison Boyle break ground on June 14 for two new cabins.

By Holly McCray

A groundbreaking often involves golden shovels and well-dressed adults. That was not the scene at Canyon Camp on June 14, when ground was broken to build two large cabins.

Junior-high campers performed the ritual.

United Methodist camping is for all ages, yet surely the ministry’s heart beats strongest when nurturing children and youths. The youngsters in red T-shirts and shorts represented the ministry well as they dug in to their task during J.E.M. (Junior-high Effectiveness Ministry) Camp.

The first cabin will take about three months to build, said Camps Director Randy McGuire on June 25.

Each building will have a central meeting room and two wings for guest quarters, accommodating up to 40 people.

The metal structures will blend with the setting. The Site Development Committee made design choices with that in mind, Rev. McGuire said.

Appropriately, the cabins will be "good ol’ canyon-red color," said David Combs, manager at the camp. A section of Canyon Camp is designated as a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Two of its five canyons contain unique plants and trees. Nearby, Red Rock Canyon State Park also confirms the natural beauty of the region.

The summer camping season continues unabated alongside the construction.

"It generates excitement that people can see the positive change here," Combs said. "It may be a little loud; it’s all for the good."

Camp staff, work crews, and event leaders are all cooperating to ensure campers’ safety. Combs voiced special appreciation for the deans and other volunteers.

Six aged cabins were demolished. The first new one is rising where Blakely, Nurses, and Workers Cabins formerly sat. That location along the camp’s main road is beyond the dining hall and Miller Hall, and across the road from the large Crutchfield Cabin.

Cabin 6 and Knox were razed to make space for the second new cabin. As you drive onto the canyon’s floor, that location is on the left along the main road, in what is commonly called the Boys Area.

Also removed was Cabin 14, unused for several years due to its deteriorated state.

Canyon’s oldest cabins have been in place more than 50 years and were built for fair-weather use. Today’s Camps ministry operates year-round.

Another building project is newly complete at Canyon. A ramp was installed at the former Deans Cabin, now renamed Nurses Cabin. The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and Oklahoma City firefighters partnered to construct it.

New construction ratchets up what already is the busiest season for Camps, but staff and volunteers remain focused on the Big Thing. "Our top priority is to be about changing lives and letting God do God’s work," Combs said.

Each day of J.E.M. Camp began with Communion, before breakfast, and worship was in the evening. The duties of praying before each meal and cleaning up after the meal rotated among the small groups. Special speakers included Bishop Robert Hayes Jr.

"Above all, we want the campers to go away growing as Christians, understanding who they worship and why they worship," said McGuire.

"Lead Like a Shepherd" was the camp’s theme. From the youths’ evaluations:

  • We learned how to be leaders in our local church.

  • I learned that leading isn’t just bossing.

  • Leading is following sometimes, too.


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