Warren Willis Camp Turns 75
As the Warren Willis Camp turns 75 this year, it's still "a sacred space". The year was 1944, and Florida Methodists had a dream. Their vision was to build a camp, but not just any camp. It would be designed for young people to encounter Jesus in ways they had never imagined.
There would be exploring, camaraderie, lessons, and songs that leaves an indelible mark on the individual. They would savor his creation of nature and beauty. They would form lifelong relationships with fellow campers and workers who joined them on their journey of discovery.
It is a sacred place, or what Mike Standifer called "active isolation, that intentional moment of separation that allowed them to grow closer to God when they were able to walk away from everything else."
Standifer serves as the Director for the Warren Willis United Methodist Camp and Conference Center and the Florida United Methodist Camps and Retreats Director.
It took four years from the original vision until the camp opened on 47 acres acquired from the city of Leesburg and the Central Florida Boy Scout Council. And this year, the camp is still going strong, celebrating its 75th anniversary amid remembrance of the past and a watchful eye for what is to come.
Camp programs continue to take place every summer, with youth programs in the spring and fall. The camp hosts retreat groups from churches, schools and colleges, and nonprofit groups across the state.
"It has been a place for 75 years for young people and adults to come to this holy ground. When folks are here and away from our norm, we're more in tune with actually hearing God. This place has been set aside for that distinct work to happen," Standifer said.
"Way back when incredible folks had a vision for this place, they truly put in motion a place for folks to begin a relationship with Christ or deepen a relationship with Christ if they already had one. They could celebrate the past, current, and future."
Florida United Methodist Church