Willard Burke (left) and Curtis Young (right) at the Camp Collins Pool

YMCA camps around the country are buzzing with excitement during this time of year. Thousands of campers transform these quiet, idyllic natural settings into a hubbub of activity, laughter and silly songs!

It takes a multi-faceted staff to serve this horde of campers each week……counselors, activity directors, cooks, maintenance crew, life guards,  administrative staff,  recreation directors, camp managers, and more.   But recently Camp Collins added a paid position to their camp staff that you may not have anticipated…..a  Camp Chaplain! 

A local area pastor,  Curtis Young,  recently assumed the newly created, year round,  halftime role as Chaplain at Camp Collins, located just east of Portland, Oregon.  

“The opportunity to bring on Curtis as our Camp Chaplain was a natural one,” says Willard Burk,  Executive Director of Camp Collins. “ We believe that the camp program gives us an independent and open opportunity to share the message about all three sides of the YMCA triangle”.

Willard went on to explain that while YMCA camps have always been good about exercising the body and developing the mind, they sometimes miss out on illuminating the spirit part of that equation.

“Curtis has been a strong support for our staff, helping our  Chapels become more focused and meaningful while still fun and age appropriate for our campers.”

Curtis sees his role as an unique opportunity to make an impact on the lives of both the campers and the camp staff.  He regularly interacts with the campers and staff during the course of the week, and often finds himself in one and one conversations about matters far beyond what may be happening that day at Camp Collins. His presence on the grounds communicates something very powerful to everyone involved, including the camper’s parents.

Balancing his responsibilities at camp with his role as the Pastor of Columbia Ridge Community Church can be a challenge, but one that both he and his congregation have adopted whole-heartedly. The vision for his church is to serve effectively in the larger community,  and  that’s exactly the model he is setting by joining forces with the YMCA to make a difference in the lives of those involved at Camp Collins. 

Willard Burk says, “ Curtis has been a great addition to our program and we are excited to have him here at YMCA Camp Collins”   Perhaps other Y camps around the country will be watching to see what happens and adding a Camp Chaplain of their own in the near future.