Camp Joy mission ministry is a time and place of intensive, immersive experiences of community, lived out in the midst of God’s beautiful creation, that highlight how our lives and our faith intersect.
For more than 30 years, youth groups from the Baltimore-Washington and Pen-Del Conferences have been serving in the Appalachian region of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia by providing home repair to those who do not have the means to take on the repairs themselves.
This year, 13 work teams from Christ UMC in Salisbury, Epworth UMC in Gaithersburg, Hancock UMC in Hancock, Hiss UMC in Parkville, Hollywood UMC in Hollywood and St. Matthew Presbyterian Church in Silver Spring, served on 35 different work sites, repairing and building steps, ramps, decks, and railings, painting, replacing windows and doors, and repairing leaking roofs.
More than just repairing homes, this mission ministry provides transformative service experiences for youth and their leaders. This year, three people returned to CAMP JOY as youth leaders that participated in CAMP JOY as a youth themselves.
Relationships are formed with each other and the homeowners as the teams serve, stories are shared, and the love of God is experienced. Many of the teams prayed with the homeowners and some gifted them with prayer shawls or homemade pickled beets when the work on the homes was done. We see the smiles on the tired faces of the work teams and on the faces of the homeowners when a project is complete knowing that they would be a little safer, a little warmer, and/or perhaps a little dryer.
The youth groups camped at tents at Camp Harmison in Berkeley Springs, W.Va. The days begin with the sun rising over the mountains and breakfast cooked and served by the ministry team. The work teams gather and pray before heading out to their worksites. Each evening the work teams are fed by different churches in the region.
Vespers services are held each evening at God’s Open Window, a beautiful outdoor chapel, that include the youth leading spirit-filled singing, a time of prayer and devotion as well as reflection on the day, and sharing of where they saw God present and working. Vespers on Friday is held around a bonfire and all who participate in Camp Joy are invited to share how this experience has impacted them. This year, the altarscape was built using items from the job sites that spoke to the theme of “Made For This.” Friday evening was a time of powerful testimony to God’s transformative power and love.
The camp also had a profound effect on the homeowners. As one of their daughters said, “What a wonderful thing you all have managed to pull off in record time. My mom’s smile and her amazement helped bring some positivity her way that was needed as much as the shining new porch .. the love in their hearts was visible.
Camp Joy 2023 is scheduled for July 9-15 and July 16-22.
Camp Joy is a ministry of the Hancock UMC. For more information on how you, your youth, and/or your church can participate, contact Pastor Becki Wessinger at or 301-678-6440.