Why Cedar Crest?
Founded in 1961, Cedar Crest has been the summer camp presence for the Tennessee Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Our camping tradition started with covered wagons, offering children and youth the story of what it means to live simply and intentionally. Eventually, campers moved from wagons to rustic cabins. Now, our campers experience summer camp out of our lodges, which are self-sustained modern units with central heat and air. Soon, we will move to a new cabin system, taking elements from our tradition to live simply and intentionally but with some modern comforts. We offer a summer camp program that lasts from June to July and camps for campers finishing first to twelfth grade.
What makes your summer camp different than others?
We celebrate our shared tradition with other summer camps! Getting campers outside to get out of their comfort zones, make new friends, develop social skills, and above all, grow in their faith is exactly what we do well. However, we do not let program drive our mission. We believe that fun activities are awesome and are a vital part of our camp experience. However, we know that fun activities do not necessarily equate to a good camp experience. So instead, what drives our program is relationships. We seek to hire college students with a deep desire to help young people grow in their faith, offer an empathetic and listening ear, and provide a safe and stable environment in the midst of the camp setting. We believe that the camper-counselor relationship is an opportunity to develop an authentic reflection of Christian community and discipleship. As such, we love questions. We love the struggles and growth that happens when people share and open up. We love watching others step out on faith as they move closer to God. We also love how our awesome activities help to foster opportunities at authentic relationships. Aside from that, we love God’s creation. We celebrate it, play in it, and learn about it. It will inform our settings for worship, program, and even connectional opportunities for scripture and curriculum.
What are you doing to keep my kids safe at camp?
Cedar Crest, like so many other camps, has a long tradition of camping. As of 2014, we have experienced three consecutive years of growth, and we anticipate our coming summers to push our boundaries of available bed and cabin (lodge) space. Since 2015, we have been accredited by the American Camp Association, the standard bearer for best practices in camping. We believe that this place is sacred; a visit to the grounds leads you to feel the Spirit, and push you closer to God’s call and will for you. Through hard work, rigorous training and safety procedures, and establishing healthy, wholesome relationships, we seek to be one of the premier Christian camping experiences in the Southeast. We want to share about camp! Give us a call at 931-670-3025 or call Director Russell Casteel on his cell phone at 662-816-2900. You also could drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any questions- large, small, hard, or seemingly insane- are not only welcomed but appreciated. We seek to be a sacred place moving towards wholeness with God, neighbor, and our land.
How do you train your summer staff?
Our summer staff hiring process goes like this: First we recruit awesome students to apply; Second they apply and send an application and three recommendations (one from a spiritual leader, one from a teacher, one from their choosing; you can actually check them out here if you want to); Third they have an interview with the Cedar Crest Director; Fourth, if they are hired they participate in a 10 day staff training, which includes: safety/safe sanctuary procedures, CPR/First-Aid for the Professional Rescuer, faith formation benchmarks, learning the summer schedule, and how to be the best counselor ever. Our Director has over ten years of training summer staff under his belt and believes it to be an awesome, formative, and even transformative experience.
So, are you open outside of the summer?
Absolutely. You can be a guest in one of our lodges and do all your own programming/experience, or you could let us do everything for you. We’re actually more affordable than any hotel or even state park! We’d love for you to come with your family, Sunday School class, church, youth group, children’s group or business.
So are there any other camps in the Tennessee Conference?
Sure! Our sister Retreat Center is the Beersheba Springs Assembly, which is situated on the Cumberland Plateau. They have awesome facilities and a very rich history.