clearwater forest


Camp-in-a-van logo

Everything wonderful about summer camp at Presbyterian Clearwater Forest, BUT happening right at your church!

what is


Camp-In-A-Van is a weeklong partnership to bring our unique outdoor ministry into your congregation and provide a camp-like experience for children who have completed grades K-5. It is a joint effort between Clearwater Forest and the congregation(s) we are serving.

Clearwater Forest provides special programming including staff, art supplies, game equipment, curriculum resources, and miscellaneous stories and activities. The congregation (or joint congregations) are asked to provide support services, promotion of the program, and involvement in the program as arranged between the Camp-In-A-Van Coordinator and the congregation’s coordinator. The curriculum is Christ-centered and activity-based, which encourages hands-on learning.


Camp-In-A-Van provides an opportunity for outreach into your community to get youth involved in outdoor ministry. Our purpose is to assist congregations in providing a quality Christian outdoor ministry experience for the youth in your congregation. We aim to support what you teach year-round in your ministry! This is why congregational involvement is vitally important. We also hope to get young people enthused about our programming and would be delighted if they chose to join us for summer camp at Clearwater Forest.

Our Strengths

The strength of our Camp-In-a-Van program is our people. Kids love to interact with and learn from our summer staff! Clearwater Forest’s summer staff is a group of young adults who are selected for their Christian commitment and love of working with children. They are trained to lead Bible studies, worship, songs, crafts and wild and fun outdoor recreation. Our emphasis is on relational ministry to offer quality Christian role models for young people. Our summer staff works alongside people from your congregation and community to offer a well-supported program. The uniqueness of the Camp-In-A-Van program is in its flexibility.


Camp-In-A-Van is all about supporting your ministry! Communication is important and will begin between your church coordinator and the Clearwater Forest team of Directors. We will work with your church to design a program specific to your needs. Please feel free to contact the camp office at any time during this process! The following information packet will help your church consider and plan for a Camp-In-A-Van experience this summer.


Frequently Asked Questions

Sunday Afternoon/Evening: Staff will arrive and meet with the coordinator and volunteers from the congregation at the church. This critical meeting should include introductions, facility tour, daily schedule review, volunteer orientation, and any other last minute details/questions.

Monday – Friday: The camp times will vary according to your church plans. Examples may include 9:00am-3:00pm or an afternoon/evening schedule. You choose! Campers will be engaged in activities lead by trained staff. Some churches choose an earlier dismissal time of 1:30 PM. We recommend closing Friday at an earlier time to allow travel time for staff returning to camp.

Wed./Thurs. Evening Optional Family Night Program: This evening is designed for children to share with their families what they have been doing throughout the week. It can include crafts, skits and singing. How about a campfire with s’mores, a potluck dinner or ice cream social? These are great ways to build community in your congregation as well as have the parents meet the camp staff! There is the possibility of a sleepover for campers. Indicate in the planning conversations what your congregation would prefer.

Another Evening: Staff are available to lead an evening event for Junior and/or Senior High youth. Please discuss this option with Clearwater staff during the planning stages.

8:15 Staff/volunteer arrival: camp staff and volunteers prepare for the day; meet to pray. 9:00 Arrival of children and check-in – there will be “floating” activities to engage the children as they arrive.

9:20 Morning Worship: A time at the beginning of each day to praise God and introduce the theme through the use of scripture, prayer, songs, and drama.

9:45 Small Group Bible Studies: The theme will be developed through age-appropriate discussion, activities and Bible-reading. This is led by camp staff, assisted by volunteers.

10:30 Snack/restroom break

10:45 Rotation: Crafts (age-appropriate) based on curriculum or games by age groups. Camp style fun, wild, wacky, zany games as well as group building activities. It is necessary to have access to an outdoor play area.

12:15 Lunch: Provided by the church or children bring their own and church may opt to provide drinks only

1:00: Story time and quiet time for younger children; large group game appropriate for school-age children. Option for off-site activity to begin at this time. (Church may elect to work with camp staff to plan off-site adventures. Adventures may include bowling, a lake trip or city pool, library, or hike. Some of these activities may require additional staff or admission money. Another suggestion is a mission experience, such as visiting a nursing home, etc.)

1:45 Camper’s Choice: Reflecting the options that campers receive at Clearwater Forest, this gives the children the option to choose more time for crafts, games, nature activities, etc. provided by the camp staff.

2:40 Closing Worship: A time at the end of the day used for closure and wrap-up of the day’s theme. The time contains celebration and praise through songs, prayer, scripture, drama and stories.

3:00 Parent Pick-up: Parents pick up children. Staff review the day, clean up and make preparations for the next day.

This is a general outline of what the daily schedule might look like. The program may be shortened or extended in length. We want this experience to be the best possible for your congregation and will work with y

The best possible arrangement for the Camp-In-A-Van program is to have both a building AND a park, playground, or open field. It is also important that the facility be adjacent to the park or field so that recreation and games can be enjoyed throughout the day. The indoor facility is important in case of inclement weather. Immediate access to rest rooms is also necessary.

Clearwater Forest provides a Camp-In-A-Van leader and staff who are caring, committed, and prepared to provide you with an amazing Camp-In-A-van experience. We ask that the congregation’s planning committee provide volunteers to work with the camp staff and the children in order to meet the necessary ratios of children to adults. Depending on camper ratios, volunteers may need to lead activities and small group studies and directly work directly with the youth participants.

Part of the partnership between Clearwater Forest and your congregation involves putting our staff up with room and board for the week of their visit. Clearwater staff may be housed together at the church or in private homes. It works best if staff can be housed together or at least two or more per private home. The congregation is responsible for providing ALL meals for the Clearwater staff during the Camp-In-A-Van program week. Congregations are free to arrange these in any number of ways.

Lunches should be provided at the Camp-In-A-Van site and can either be sent by the host families with whom staff are staying or other volunteers can bring the lunch to the site. (Please remember that staff are young college age adults participating in a very active schedule.) If a staff member has special dietary needs this will be communicated to the congregational coordinator. Evening meals can be arranged through the host families or other families during the week.

Clearwater Forests organizes transportation for the summer staff to your church on Sunday and for return to camp on Friday. The church is responsible for the transportation of children for any off-site adventure.

Our summer staff is insured through Clearwater Forest’s Worker’s Compensation Policy. Your Camp-In-A-Van program should be insured under your church’s liability policy.

Clearwater Forest Camp & Retreat Center