Bob and Sharon Emmett have been directors at Mandaville Camp and Retreat Center in the upper New York State city of Winthrop for fourteen years. Their three children grew up on camp property. Now that they are all teenagers, all three contribute camp ministry work both as staff and campers.
The Emmetts are joined by two other BCM missionary families – Dave and Becky Hannon and Ryan and Amanda Siver. The Hannons fill the roles of maintenance supervisor and camp nurse while the Sivers are Director of Programming and camp cook. For the past eight years, BCM missionary Don Jackson has been the Bible teacher. A variety of other volunteers, including kitchen staff and counselors, rounded out the help for 2014’s summer camp.
In existence for 40 years, Mandaville runs a year-round camping center. During summer months, they offer eight weeks of camp. Nine different programs are offered, some of them running consecutively, optimizing their facilities and the summer months. These include two weeks of staff training and three weeks of leadership training for teens. Programs are arranged by age from the youngest campers in first grade all the way through the senior year of high school.
The property covers 205 acres, but much of this is undeveloped and wooded. Camp director Bob Emmett explains the reason: “We utilize it [undeveloped woods] for an emphasis on learning and discovering in God’s Creation, which we feel is part of our niche as a camp. We have no developed waterfront on the property. But we’ve been creative to utilize resources in our own ‘back yard’, such as the town beach at a nearby lake, the Adirondack Mountains, a local riding stable.”
Mandaville’s theme this summer was the C.S. Lewis fantasy land of “Narnia.” Bob Emmett explains, “The Bible lessons focused on character qualities demonstrated by the stories’ kings and queens—and of course, Aslan himself—such as humility, faith, sacrifice, and courage.”
One week of camp is specifically for what Bob describes as “the littlest of the little”—campers ages 6-8. This week is slightly shorter, only Monday through Thursday, to help avoid things like homesickness. This summer’s “littlest” week filled all but two available bunks. It was a special time for the counselors when two little girls received Christ as Savior one morning.
This year, Mandaville launched a new outreach entitled “Camp on the Road.” During one particular week, camp staff was divided up with part of the staff assisting a local church in conducting a Vacation Bible School program. The concept behind this new outreach was for camp staff to be “an outstretched arm” in offering practical assistance to the local church.
Mandaville staff are praising God for the two little girls who received Christ as Savior as well as many children who signed up for follow-up Mailbox Bible Club courses. Pray for the Gospel to take root in the hearts of Mandaville campers who heard it this summer. Mandaville will be hosting a 40th Anniversary Celebration. October 3-4, 2014. Pray for a good attendance to help celebrate this great milestone. Pray for Bob and Sharon Emmett and their family as they take a much-earned sabbatical this fall and winter.
On their website are additional details for the 40th anniversary celebration, pictures, and ways to get involved year-round: http://campmandaville.org/
Originally Published in BCM World September 2014