July 24-30, 2022 @ La Foret Conference & Retreat Center

Dear Community Camp Supporter,

We are so excited to confirm that we will be having FP Community Camp this summer! Your camp deans are hard at work on plans to enjoy forest, fellowship, food (it will be better this year, seriously!). This letter provides registration information, as well as ways to donate/support camp including a return of the Clocktower Cabaret’s “Plymouth Rocks” Talent Show on June 5.

This year’s camp theme is “Into the Woods, It’s Time to Go!” This tribute to the late Stephen Sondheim will provide multiple opportunities to explore your inner Cinderella, Prince Charming, or even inner witch? Join us in the La Foret woods this summer to see if you discover any giants in the sky.

Important Dates

May 15 - Registration Deadline

June 4 - Full balance due

June 5 @ 6:00 PM - Plymouth Rocks at the Clocktower Cabaret (Get your tickets today!)

June 15 - Last day for a full refund

June 30 - Last day for a 50% refund

 

 

First Plymouth Community Camp, aka Family Camp, aka “Camp” is a week long (Sunday-Saturday), lay-led, summer camp that takes place in the Black Forest just northeast of Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the La Foret Conference and Retreat Center, usually the last full week of July each year. Each year a church member agrees to lead Camp as “The Dean”, along with a Co-Dean, who steps into the Dean role for the following year. First Plymouth has been presenting Community Camp annually since 1975 at La Foret. Between 90 to 150 people of all ages attend Camp each year. Most campers come from the First Plymouth membership, plus friends and family of FP members attend as well.  All are welcome!  

 Each year the Dean and Co-Dean choose a theme for the Camp and design activities and classes inspired by the theme. For example, recent themes have included “Make a Joyful Noise", “A Power Greater Than Ourselves”, “CommUNITY”, “Building Bridges”, “Get Lost in the Forest” and “Let There Be Light.”  

Camp welcomes individuals, couples, families and extended families. One or more ministers from First Plymouth usually attend with their children or families, leading classes which may relate to the Camp theme or may be a Bible study or book study. The variety of educational classes, arts and crafts, athletic games, worship services, and evening events are led by campers in attendance.

La Foret Conference and Retreat Center is a UCC owned retreat center located in Black Forest northeast of Colorado Springs on 400 acres of wooded land with cabins and program buildings, and an historic Chapel built in the 1920s.  It is an easy 1+ hour drive down I-25.  The United Church of Christ Rocky Mountain Conference manages La Foret and hosts various retreats, festivals, family reunions, weddings and other gatherings throughout the year.  Any group may use La Foret for their event.  Membership in the UCC is not a requirement.  For more information about La Foret, see www.LaForet.org

Participants at Camp stay in the La Foret Cabins and in Yurtville (see additional FAQs below), eat 3 meals a day at the Dining Hall, and during the day generally participate in age appropriate camp activities, such as yoga, arts & crafts, educational and spiritual classes, nature walks, water gun fights, ropes course, sports such as kickball, softball, ultimate frisbee or capture the flag. Recent classes led by participants at camp included beekeeping, aromatherapy, iPhone photography, wine tasting and classes on spirituality, history of the Bible and environmental justice. Class offerings change every year. There is a swimming pool, a tennis court, basketball and volleyball courts, horseshoe and gaga ball pit, which is a big hit with the younger kids. During the week teens also meet for their own special time in Youth Group for various activities and discussions. 

Throughout the week there are short services and meditation experiences which campers can attend as a way to worship, sing, pray and commune with nature. There are all-camp social hours late in the afternoon before dinner, where campers share their snacks and drinks and enjoy conversation, laughter and watching bottle rocket launches or horseshoe tournament finals. Every evening there are events at Ingles Hall or Ponderosa for the entire Camp group. Over the years these have included line dancing, square dancing, game nights, Minute-to-Win-It, Talent Shows, Bingo Night, Movie Night, Campfire Songs and other group activities for the entire family. Every camper helps out, anything from leading one of the classes, organizing one of the evening events, to setting out (or putting away) chairs for an event. Teens often assist with childcare, arts and crafts activities and nearly everyone is involved in putting on the Talent Show on Thursday evening. Of course, all the programming is optional and people do as little or as much of the programming options as desired. Some prefer just to read a book and bask in the peace and tranquility that is La Foret, getting away from their devices and demands for the week.

We’re not going to lie: the cabins are rustic. There are 9 cabins at La Foret which sleep anywhere from 10 to 20 people in four to six bedrooms, with two or more bathrooms per cabin. One cabin is ADA compliant. The bedrooms are small and generally sleep four people and are equipped primarily with bunk beds. Each cabin has a sitting room area and two cabins have full household kitchens. Cabin living for a week is fun because you really get to know your cabin-mates when you are sharing bathrooms and a living room. Although you can rent linens from La Foret, most people bring their own sheets, towels, blankets, and some even bring their own mattress toppers for a more comfortable sleeping experience. Everyone needs to bring their own pillows. Individuals are sometimes heard complaining about the beds or their neighbor’s snoring, however we think the cabin life is charming and well worth the opportunity to stay on the beautiful La Foret grounds.

Yurtville is a collection of six, large, round, tent-like structures that house up to twelve campers each in bunk-beds. During Community Camp each yurt generally hosts one or two larger families who enjoy staying together in a more “camping” like atmosphere. There is one bathhouse for Yurtville with multiple showers and toilets for the whole group. One of the yurts and bathroom is ADA compliant. Staying in Yurtville requires more walking as it is a little further away from the dining hall, Ponderosa Lodge and Ingles Hall where most of the group activities take place. It also requires a willingness to walk to the separate bathhouse from your yurt when you need to “use the facilities.” It’s a great way to increase your daily step count! But if someone is running late, or the afternoon thunderstorm has arrived, people have been known to drive (at posted 5-mph speed limit!) to get back and forth to activities. However, the families who stay in Yurtville love the larger sleeping accommodations provided, the more natural setting and don’t mind a walk to the bathroom. In the evenings there is often an outdoor group gathering under the trees; Yurtville families and others come down for socializing, and await their teens arriving back from youth group.

Again, not going to lie. The food is mediocre. However one of the best things about Camp is the Dining Hall. Someone else plans, prepares and cleans up all the meals. To repeat: SOMEONE ELSE plans, prepares and cleans up all the meals.  There are hot meals, dessert, fruit and a salad bar so you can usually find something to your liking. The Dining Hall will also accommodate dietary options, such as vegetarian or gluten-free diets. Generally people pack a lot of junk food, snacks and food in plastic bins and load up their ice chests to bring to Camp for the week. No one goes hungry.

Yes (and no). One cabin and one yurt are ADA compliant including bathroom space, so space is available but limited. All meeting spaces and the dining hall have wheelchair access and have an ADA compliant bathroom inside. There is a concrete walkway between a couple of the primary buildings, but La Foret is designed as a walking camp facility with trails, dirt roads and meadows in between, so someone would probably need to plan on driving (or be driven) between many of the event locations (observing the 5-mph speed limit) in order to go from activities to meals to housing over the course of the day. It is nice to know however that even the labyrinth and campfire circles can be accessed via a car.

Short answer: YES. Kids love camp. No exceptions. There are few natural places left in this world where kids can run around safely, and parents know that all the adults there are looking out for the smallest of the campers. There are also plenty of youth who will babysit or “adopt” younger kids to give their parents a break. Even infants come to Camp, and again there are plenty of adults or youth volunteering to help out with the baby. There usually is childcare provided daily for a couple of hours to give parents an opportunity to go to an adult class or other offering. One of the benefits of FP Community Camp is that First Plymouth usually reserves almost all the conference facilities, so we are pretty much the only ones in that 400-acre camp. This provides a freedom and safety for children and youth to explore, but with watchful and caring eyes looking out for them. Camp is great for all ages, but childhood is the “sweet spot” for camp.

Well on one hand it is a long time, 6 nights actually, from Sunday evening through Saturday morning. But it goes by quickly, with just enough activities to keep you and your family from getting bored, but with enough time to really relax and unwind. Some people register as day-campers, coming down for just a day or to spend a night or two. But we encourage you to try it for the entire week. How many camping programs are designed to support the delight and development for any age participant…from infant to mature adults, for a whole week? Community Camp is planned with a rhythm in mind for activities, building community and concluding with a Friday evening celebration and Saturday morning closing worship service. Children as well as adults develop and deepen friendships over the week, and intergenerational connections create lasting bonds and experiences.

AND the cost can’t be beat for a full 6 days of lodging, 3 meals daily, entertainment, arts and crafts, education classes, athletic shenanigans, spiritual development and more! Financial Scholarships are available to assist if needed.  

Having said that, we know it can be difficult to take an entire week off work. But because La Foret is an easy drive from Denver, some adult campers have even commuted back and forth when they needed to attend a meeting back in town, and/or will squirrel away in one of the quieter rooms at La Foret with chairs, tables and WIFI access to work on their computers. For some, that has made the difference to be able to come to camp, even if they couldn’t take an entire week off work.

Yes, but don’t use it. Okay we know we just said you could do some work from camp or even commute back to Denver if needed, and we know that some people enjoy streaming shows or watching funny YouTube videos and checking social media. But we hope that you will use the week as a chance to unplug and unwind. The whole purpose is to spend quality time in-person with friends, family, nature, yourself and with God. But if you absolutely have to have it, WIFI is available and is generally pretty good in the event spaces due to La Foret’s upgrades over the years. Cell phone coverage can be spotty, depending on your carrier and where you are on the property, but it has also gotten better over the years as civilization has encroached in the surrounding areas. Although we miss the innocence from when we really were “off the grid” in years past, it can be helpful to know that your cell phone and computer will work at camp.

Because it’s fun; it’s a way to get to know people from First Plymouth; it’s in a beautiful, natural, peaceful setting; it’s a way to bond with your family outside of the usual pressures and demands of regular life; it’s a way to connect spiritually to God, a higher power, the natural world, or to whatever touchstone connects you to something outside yourself. Did we already say it’s fun? It is! Old friends meet up at Camp and new friends are made; families from multiple generations gather together and relax; kids run around like wild things shrieking and carrying on; people take naps, play bridge, have squirt gun fights, play guitars, read, talk and connect with others.  

Camp can be whatever you want it to be.  Come and see and learn for yourself.

Contact: fpcampdean@gmail.com