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Camps and Retreat Centers 2024

Camp Gifford invites low-income kids

Girls await a water adventure. Photo courtesy of the camp


Ron Molina, Camp Gifford's business manager and camp director since June 2023, is an ordained Church of the Nazarene elder who supports the camp's mission of bringing low-income and struggling children and youth for a week of camp where they can experience God's love and the Gospel message.

Thirty-four years ago, he moved from Southern California to the Inland Northwest to be manager of Pinelow Park Camp, operated by the Church of the Nazarene. He worked there 18 years, then 11 years as men's chaplain with Union Gospel Mission and several years in the auto industry.

Brian Pickering, communication specialist at The Salvation Army Spokane, said that William Booth, who founded The Salvation Army in England in 1865, advocated for justice for those who are neglected, abused, poor and oppressed.

"We agree on ministering to children and youth through creating a safe and sacred space at camp, giving them refuge, shelter and respite where they can come to a saving knowledge of Christ," said Ron.

Brian said The Salvation Army recruits children ages seven to 17 from its programs—Sally's House and Stepping Stones—and impoverished communities to come to camp with scholarships that cover on a sliding scale much of the $400 cost for a week.

For the last four years, The Spokesman-Review has helped raise funds through "Send a Kid to Camp." Funds also come to The Salvation Army all year from donors.

The goal is to support 700 to 1,000 kids for six weeks of camp from June 24 to Aug. 2.

Brian said that before COVID, 1,000 kids often came to camps.

"We are rebuilding the numbers, aware parents are slowly sending kids back to camps," he said, noting that other camps are experiencing the same post-COVID dynamics.

Ron said that Camp Gifford has Discovery Camp sessions each week for children ages seven to 12 to spend time swimming, being in nature, doing arts and having community time.

Each week there is also a Wilderness Camp for 24 youth ages 13 to 17 who stay in a remote area of the camp in rustic shelters with no running water. They learn survival skills, do team building, hike, swim and worship in an outdoor chapel. Each week, there is space for 12 girls and 12 boys.

Ron, who is responsible for the program development, said there are openings for some of the 50 staff roles as program directors and counselors. Staff orientation is June 17.

Camp Gifford is open year-round for school groups, church retreats, business groups, outdoor education and more. Those groups renting the camp help support it.

Memorial Weekend, 260 of the camp's 294 beds were filled with members of Pilgrim Slavic Baptist Church coming for a retreat.

Brian noted that at 102 years old, Camp Gifford is the oldest Salvation Army camp in one location in the U.S.

For information, call 223-2511 or visit
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, June 2024