Camp in the Community (CITC) began in 2011 as an outreach ministry of Camp Wesley Woods (CWW). Founder and Director, Whitney Winston had worked at CWW for 13 years and during that time had spent one summer working in inner-city ministry in Greensboro, NC (with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship). It was during that experience of learning to be a good neighbor that she met children that she knew she would never have met at CWW or most other summer camp programs. Because camp has the potential to be a place of transformation and growth, she felt that these children and many others who are not able to attend camp should be given the opportunity.
Through discussions with her then-boss, John Erdman, it was decided to establish partnerships with two churches in low-income areas and offer summer camp on their sites. Two churches were identified, and summer camp was held at both Bybee UMC and Mountain View UMC. That summer we had 77 campers at the first-ever CITC summer camps. This trial run was deemed a success, and the following summer camp was offered at 7 churches, serving 299 campers.
Over the years the program grew in a number of host churches per summer, and number of campers. In the summer of 2016, 9 churches hosted and a total of 401 campers experienced camp through the CITC program. After summer, Wesley Woods determined that they could no longer afford to offer this program. Then CRM Executive Director, Randy Pasqua, felt that the program was worthwhile and began seeking options for the future of the program. In August of that year, Whitney Winston was asked to become the CITC Director, as it would become the 5th camp under the umbrella of the Holston Conference, though funds were not yet in place. A Design Team was assembled to discuss this possibility, and both they and Whitney agreed to proceed if the CRM board was willing to fund the program including the director’s salary for November and December.
The CRM board agreed, and plans were immediately put into motion to raise the needed funds for operating camp as well as paying a director for 2017. By the end of January 2017, all funds were in place to fully fund the 2017 budget of Camp in the Community. The decision was made that since Camp in the Community had expanded to become its own camp under the umbrella of the Holston Conference, and could now serve any district throughout the conference, there would be a need to offer more weeks of camp. The number of host sites served increased from 8 in 2016 to 16 sites in 2017, the inaugural the summer camp, Camp in the Community. That summer 851 campers were served, and the Junior Counselor program was expanded.
The summer of 2018, CITC served 1167 campers in 24 different communities. Over 300 children accepted Christ for the first time. Incorporation also became official in 2018, and the first official Board of Directors was formed. Their first meeting was March 27, 2018.
In 2019, CITC was held at 25 locations and served 1204 campers. In 2020, despite the COVID-19 Pandemic, CITC served over 1400 campers through a remote 5-week program called Camp is Where the Heart Is. Thankfully, we were able to return to host hybrid in-person and camp kits in 2021, and return to fully in person programming in 2022.
We have built relationships with over 7000 campers since we began.