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Faith-based Camps Connect Faith and Fun

Transition in leadership is time to consider new ways of doing camp

Camp Cross senior high youth share in activity.

John Palarine, Camp Cross director and canon for youth ministries, brings insights from 40 years of serving the Episcopal church as a parish rector and diocese staff in youth ministry and camping. He began in January after Colin Haffner retired.

“My passion is to raise up young people in the church,” he said.

John seeks to develop youth-led ministry and to make a difference in the lives of young people so they are able to make a difference when they return to their congregations and communities, touched by the power of Christ.

Along with serving the church, he started Youth Presence Ministries in 2013 to help congregations establish strong youth ministries, before coming on staff with the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida. 

For Camp Cross, which has been operating since 1923, this transition is a time to look at new ways to do camp and to listen to the many people whose lives have been touched by camp, he said.

“It’s a rustic summer camp on Lake Coeur d’Alene focusing on how God touches lives and strengthens people’s faith through generations,” John said.

“The bishop wants the camp, as other programs, to be consistent with the diocesan emphasis on being creative and compelling witnesses to Jesus Christ in our region and being a place where all people are welcome.”

The diocesan theme is “Loved and Called: Listen and Respond,” he said.

John is building collaborative leadership and teamwork among paid and volunteer staff, counselors and resource people.  There are 15 summer staff and 20 paid high school counselors, plus two resource people for each session.

Resource people include a sports editor turned youth worker, a Christian formation leader, the Urban Gypsies music group, a national musician for youth and a professor from Virginia Seminary.  Several are from Florida.

Pia Longinotti, a high school teacher, journalist and basketball coach, is assistant camp director.

Age-based youth camps run from June 24 to Aug. 11. There are Family Days at the Lake camp July 4 to 7, and a Labor Day family camp.

About 250 youth and adults come through the summer, with about 150 in the youth camps.

For information, call 624-3191 or email

Copyright © June 2018 - The Fig Tree