It’s been a pretty good stretch for the Rev. Betty Angelini. The executive director for the Crestfield Camp and Conference Center in Slippery Rock, PA, just turned the corner on 10 years at her post. At the same time, she is part of an organization that received an international award and was also recently given a perfect score during a comprehensive review.
“It’s nice to know that what you think the Holy Spirit has given to you is being recognized and that people care enough to care for you,” Angelini said.
“Care” is something Angelini and her staff have given to Crestfield over the years, not just during Angelini’s 10 years as the executive director, but also during the seven years she was on the Ministry Team and even prior to that when she was a youth helping out there. That makes the award and perfect review that much sweeter.
In September, Crestfield was awarded the first Center of Excellence honor by the Office of Camp and Conference Ministry, a division of the Presbytery Mission Agency at PCUSA. Crestfield was one of six locations in the United States and Canada selected for the first-time award that is given out to centers that, according to the notification letter from Advisory Group member Brian Frick, “exhibited success and ingenuity in your camp and conference ministry.”
Angelini was given an opportunity to attend a conference in Stony Point, N.Y., in early October to meet with the executive directors from the five other winning camps. They participated in a four-day gathering that included leaders speaking about how centers can better “integrate their sights into our ministry,” the letter states. It continues to read that by bringing together the leaders it is hoped that they can “network, share, learn and inspire high-quality leadership.”
“The time away at Stony Point was one of worship, community building and thoughtful and mentally-stimulating conversations regarding present trends and future directions and vision for camp and conference/outdoor ministry,” Angelini said. “It certainly brought to light the scripture text from Ephesians: ‘Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.’”
Spawning from the meeting will be bi-monthly conversations and possibly grants to help the winning camps continue their ministry. It is a two-year experience that will most likely include another face-to-face conference next year.
“I am so thrilled that we were picked,” Angelini said. “Wow, what an honor and a blessing. … I look forward to continuing to learn so that we can do even more transformative ministry.”
Angelini felt Crestfield’s work both at their camp and conference’s site and away from it helped set it apart from the rest of the competition.
“We are very intentional in our missional nature of camp and conference ministry,” she said. “For Crestfield, it’s not just what happens on the site – the site itself is 226 beautiful acres of God’s creation — but it’s the ministry that takes us and the Holy Spirit that empowers us to go out into the world.”
One of the things Crestfield hangs its hat on are its day camps that seek out small churches that don’t have the manpower and financial stability to hold things like vacation Bible school. It has taken its day camp to Africa and will be traveling to Latin America this fall while teaching another camp and conference center how to do the same.
Crestfield also offers a “Mission: Possible” camp that gets kids out into the community doing service projects, and it has a year-round internship program for young adults called “grACE House” for those who are trying to find their path for the future.
Not only is Crestfield doing all of these things, it’s doing them all in sparkling fashion. On top of the “Center of Excellence” award, Crestfield also received a rating with no deficiencies from the American Camp Association. The triennial review inspects policies, procedures and the implementation of them for both retreats and summer camps. It’s the first time Angelini has received a perfect score as the camp’s executive director.
“All of the staff has contributed to that,” Angelini said of her full-time co-workers that number six.
“We really work hard to live into our mission statement, which is to partner with churches and communities in disciple-making, outreach, sanctuary and hospitality so that we can all together be participating in what God is doing in the world.”
All told, it’s been a great run for Angelini and her staff, not just in the recent months but during her entire career at Crestfield as well. It’s been and continues to be a perfect match, and one can hear that excitement and joy in Angelini’s voice.
“Camp and conference ministry is really powerful,” she said, “and in this day of technology, we just need to stop and not be busy with the busyness and listen and hear God and keep the spirit moving. It’s a great place to do that.”