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My Call to Ministry: A Camp Wyoming Story

By Stacie Hoppman April 22, 2014

Meet Sara. She lives in Dubuque, Iowa and is the Family Minister at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church there. Sara has been in youth and family ministry for over 35 years. It is a vocation she loves, and as Sara tells us, “I can say with certainty that my career path started at Camp Wyoming.” This is her Camp Wyoming Story

“When I was a senior in high school I was helping with my congregation’s Vacation Bible School program.  Our Christian Educator, Dolores, asked if I would be willing to volunteer at Camp Wyoming because they needed some counselors for the next week.  I was hesitant, not because I did not like camping or had never been to a camp before (because I did indeed love camping and had been to YM/YWCA camp as a child) but because I had never experienced church camp before.  I trusted Dolores, so I said yes.

Sara McCaw
Sara and a camper at Camp Wyoming

“The following week, I arrived at Camp Wyoming just in time for the staff meeting.  When the meeting was finished, it was dark, and I had no opportunity to walk around the camp and get my bearings.  I learned about the camp as the campers arrived.  I was put into a Pioneer Camp with 5th and 6th grade students; we slept in tents and cooked three meals a day on a fire. My co-counselor, who was on summer staff, liked to hike, so this was our daily program – cook, hike, cook, swim, cook, play Capture the Flag, have a campfire, sleep.  It was fantastic.  I loved it so much that I returned as a volunteer for five more weeks that summer.

“Starting with that summer, I spent the next 27 summers at Camp Wyoming, full time or part time.  I was a volunteer counselor, summer staff counselor, Pioneer Camp coordinator, Trip Camp coordinator, archery instructor, life guard, crafts instructor, nature instructor, and canoe instructor.  I spent five years working as the summer program director, during which time I helped develop the Night Owls Camp and the Leaders-in-Training (LIT) Camp.  After I took full-time work as a Christian Educator, I continued to direct the LIT Camp and Wintertainment.  I served on the Camp Counsel for many years as well and helped write the summer camp Bible curriculum.

Sara McCaw with LITs
Sara (last person on the right) and the LITs at Camp Wyoming

“As a Christian Educator, I served my home congregation of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dubuque, Iowa as director of Christian Education and Youth.  My relationship with Camp Wyoming greatly enhanced my ministry there.  We used the camp for family retreats, women’s retreats, and youth retreats.  We encouraged our children, youth, and families to attend summer camping sessions.  Many of my high school youth became LIT’s, and worked on summer staff.  In fact, one summer, two thirds of the summer staff came from Westminster.  My relationships with Westminster’s young people were strong because of the time we spent together at camp.  Camp Wyoming was my valuable partner in youth and family ministry.

Sara McCaw with the Bible

“I am a single woman, never been married with no children of my own, but I have family.  I attended Family Camp with my nieces and nephews and my camp friends.  I continue close relationships with former staff, some that I hired and mentored, with former LITs and campers.   Camp Wyoming helped me to discern a call to youth and family ministry, and it gave me an extended Christian family.  Even though I did not attend Camp Wyoming until I was out of high school, it was one of the most influential experiences of my life.  Camp Wyoming has a treasured place in my heart and mind.  I grew in many ways at camp, not the least of which was my journey in faith.”