Each week, an ordained United Methodist clergy person serves as our Theologian in Residence (TIR). While supporting morning and night chapel experiences is certainly a key element of the role, the TIR has long-been an opportunity for campers to relate to a pastor in new ways as they interact throughout the camp week. These pastors preach – and also climb over walls, zip into lakes, and hike up creeks.


We intentionally recruit our weekly camp pastors, or “Theologians-in-Residence” (TIR), from among our United Methodist ordained and commissioned clergy with a variety of ministry settings and backgrounds who relate well to children and youth, who can help translate faith to action for our campers, and who support the core values of our camping ministries. We work to ensure that a variety of Wesleyan theological leanings are represented in our TIR team each summer. Our TIRs follow the summer curriculum and daily scripture readings, frequently designing and leading worship in collaboration with a living group of campers and their counselors. Their focus is on the practical application of faith, shared from their grounding and training in the Wesleyan theological tradition of the United Methodist Church.

For more about our efforts to include people of different theological perspectives at camp, see the dropdown FAQs below.

(What was your highlight?) “Making new friends and going to chapel! The pastor/chaplain/leader did a really good job putting the Bible lessons and meanings of words into ‘kid language’ and I understood. It wasn’t like in our big church service at home where I don’t understand what they’re saying. I learned a lot.” – Camper

We are United Methodist ministries and are firmly grounded in Wesleyan theological understandings. We believe that a crucial component of hospitality and acceptance of others is a clear understanding of our own identity and sharing that identity authentically and unapologetically. For decades we’ve been welcoming campers from a variety of denominational and non-denominational backgrounds, including those with no church home and those who are not Christian. Of well over 3,000 campers we serve in any summer, about 50% are not from United Methodist churches. Our campers and their families tell us they are comfortable with our approach to faith formation because we focus on the practice of Christian faith – loving God and loving neighbor – rather than focusing on a particular theology. We serve communion in the closing worship of our camp week and, in keeping with the tradition of the United Methodist Church, our communion table is open to all. Campers are not pressured or expected to take part in communion at camp, but are welcome at the table, guided by their own beliefs and by their parents. In our retreat season we welcome a variety of faith communities, schools, and nonprofit organizations without regard to their faith and without apology for our Wesleyan Christian tradition or the expressions of it that are a part of the Glisson site. 

We are welcoming of all theological backgrounds. To accomplish this, we focus intentionally and intensely on practicing engaging Christian spirituality and daily faith practices more than teaching specific theological beliefs. We leave theological and doctrinal training to campers’ families and their churches. Our primary theological goal is for campers to have an immersive, guided experience of applying theology in ways that translate to everyday life. Our Theologians-in-Residence (see the “pastor volunteers” FAQ above) are ordained and commissioned United Methodist clergy who are grounded in Wesleyan theology and who can support our core values, including our long-standing value of radical acceptance. We train our counselors to leverage day-to-day situations and conversations in their living groups into opportunities for experiential learning. This means, for example, that they are trained to prioritize asking campers to share their understanding of a particular scripture or what choices they think best follow Jesus’ example in particular situations, rather than to lead with the counselor’s own interpretations and understandings. Our scripturally-based curriculum is developed by the collaborative work of volunteers from a variety of mainline denominations. We use it to inspire questions of how God calls us to live in community with one another and to live out our faith after we return home.


We’ve been inclusive of campers from a variety of denominational backgrounds in our summer programs for decades. In the summer of 2023, 52% of campers were UMC, 15% were non-denominational, 11% had no church affiliation, 8% were Catholic, and the remaining 14% were members of other denominations or religions. And for years we’ve hosted retreat groups in the non-summer months from faith communities, schools, and nonprofits without regard to their members’ faith or religious commitment.