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Survey shows camps, retreats have touched most Presbyterians/Survey on camp and conference ministry

(IOWA CITY, IOWA) May 2012 survey of more than 2,100 Presbyterians indicates that a substantial majority are very or somewhat likely to attend a retreat or camp activity that their congregation organizes or publicizes. Kevin Cullum, executive director of Camp Wyoming, a ministry of East Iowa Presbytery, sent along results of the Presbyterian Panel’s May 2012 survey. Respondents included 922 teaching elders, 796 ruling elders and 472 church members.

The most recent survey explored spiritual growth experiences and church retreats in four areas:

  • Most significant learning or spiritual growth experience

  • Faith development past and future

  • Preferences for church resources and retreats

  • Retreat and camp participation

Among the findings:

  • About one in five members, two in five ruling elders and three in five pastors said they personally participated with other people from their congregation in a retreat or camp activity during the past two years.

  • Helping plan a retreat or camp activity for their congregation or a group within the congregation is something that about half the pastors said they’d done in the past two years. But only 8 percent of members and 17 percent of ruling elders had been involved in such planning during the same time period.

  • The reported likelihood of attending a retreat or camp activity in the next two years is greater among young members, ruling elders and pastors than among their older peers. Nearly 80 percent of respondents 40 and younger said they were very likely or some- what likely, while a little more than 40 per- cent of those 70 or older saying it was likely they would.

MIKE FERGUSON is a ruling elder at the United Presbyterian Church of Lone Tree (Iowa), a reporter for The Muscatine Journal and editor of the Presbytery of East Iowa’s enewsletter Out and About, from which this article is reprinted.


Survey on camp and conference ministry


By Joel Winchip


The Presbyterian Panel of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has released survey results related to spiritual growth experiences and church retreats.


The May 2012 survey addresses the impact of the camp, conference and retreat experience on faith development. The panelists were also asked questions related to retreat participation and facility requirements.


Every decade for the past 30 years, questions such as those asked in this survey have been asked of the pastors, elders and members of the denomination.


You can find the summary of this study on the Presbyterian Panel website at


Other Related Resources gives retreat leaders the ability to search for the ideal location for their next event based on location and lodging needs.


The Office of Camp and Conference Ministries exists to support and advocate for all PC(USA) affiliated camp and conference centers.


The Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association is a nonprofit organization that equips camp and conference leaders through programs and resources.


The Donald A. Hostetter Fund for Camp is an endowment that aids Presbyterian camp and conference centers by providing financial support to the resources that strengthen them.


JOEL WINCHIP is executive director of the Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association.