Casowasco News Archive

Important Announcement Regarding UNY Summer Camp 2020

Important Announcement Regarding UNY Summer Camp 2020

The current context of the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a very challenging decision for the Upper New York Camp & Retreat Ministries (UNY CRM) lead team. After consultation with the Upper New York Committee on Camp & Retreat Ministries and after several meetings with experts in the medical and camping fields, the UNY CRM lead team has decided to suspend all UNY-hosted summer programs at each of the CRM sites: Aldersgate, Asbury, Casowasco, Sky Lake, and Skye Farm.

While this is disappointing news for campers, parents, volunteers, and staff (including the lead team), safety is our top priority.

The UNY CRM staff is trained to keep campers safe during normal circumstances, but the challenges posed by COVID-19 are unprecedented and many, including, but not limited to:

●  The need for heightened cleaning requirements
●  Providing PPE to campers and staff, including masks
●  Social distancing requirements, including strict occupancy limits
●  There would be difficulty in getting trained medical staff
●  Summer staff would likely need to remain onsite for the whole season
●  At this time, the health department recommends that those who are high risk not attend camp during the COVID-19 pandemic. This would go against UNY CRM’s inclusivity commitment.

The camping experience is one of the most powerful ways to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, so this decision was not made lightly. Trust that all UNY CRM sites will put forth their utmost effort to keep connected to their camping communities in the coming months. More information on what each site will be doing to stay connected will come soon.

Those who have already registered and made a payment toward a program will be contacted by their individual site by the end of next week to discuss their options going forward. The three options are:

●  Receive a full refund
●  Transfer the payment to credit for 2021
●  Generously donate part or all your registration/deposit to the site of your choice, helping to sustain UNY CRM through the summer.

While you cannot be at the camp sites physically, know that the UNY CRM lead team is here for you spiritually and emotionally at this time and very much look forward to when they can see you again.

If you have any questions about this news, please contact Betsy Schuessler, Executive Assistant for the UNY CRM team at

This announcement was written by Shannon Hodson of Upper New York Annual Conference Communications and first appeared at after families of registered 2020 participants and all 2019 participants received the following letter by email directly:

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
- Psalm 100:5

Dear Camp and Retreat Families,

We write to you today in the midst of one of the most challenging time our camping community has faced. Upper New York Camp and Retreat ministries has transformed the lives of campers, participants, guests, staff, and volunteers for over 75 years. Each generation of a camp and retreat community sees a blend of change, tradition, challenge, and celebration. Even now, God’s steadfast love extends to us as we adapt to the situation of our world.

After much prayer and careful consideration, the Camp and Retreat Ministries Staff with support from the Committee have made the challenging decision to suspend our summer programs at all UNY sites—Aldersgate, Asbury, Casowasco, Sky Lake, and Skye Farm for the 2020 season. This includes traditional summer camp, Express Mini programs, and Special Needs Programs.

This decision is difficult and unprecedented.  We truly believe that camp provides a unique opportunity for people to experience the transforming love of God in the context of Christian community, and it saddens us greatly to lose that opportunity this summer.  Fundamental to our camp and retreat communities, however, is a devoted commitment to the safety of all who set foot on our sites.  A safe environment allows for social, emotional, and spiritual growth as campers choose to take on challenges.

As we have considered guidelines from the American Camp Association, the CDC, and the New York State Department of Health that begin to lay out what social distancing, PPE, sanitization, and quarantine protocols would need to be in place in order for summer programs to run. We have come to understand that these measures would force new challenges on campers and staff and would not allow for the kind of nurturing environment on which our programs rely. Members of our communities who have a higher health risk would not be able to enter our environment at all. 

Even with these new protocols in place, health and safety is not something we can confidently provide this summer in the context of the pandemic.  While our staff are trained and have the experience to keep our community safe during normal camp activities, we are not all are trained medical professionals.  Even with our best efforts, the risk to our communities is too great.  The decision to suspend summer programs was made to protect not only our campers and staff, but every guest, volunteer, parent, sibling, and grandparent who is connected to our larger community.

Those who have already registered and made a payment toward a program will be contacted by their individual site by the end of next week to discuss their options going forward. The three options are:
◻  Receive a full refund,
◻  Transfer the payment to credit for 2021,
◻  Generously donate part or all your registration/deposit to the site of your choice, helping to sustain us through this summer.

While UNY summer program will not be running this year, this won’t be the last you’ll hear from us!  All our sites are diligently working on plans for the summer, taking into consideration new updates on low-risk outdoor recreation opportunities from New York State, regional re-opening guidelines, and the ways in which our facilities and staff can continue to serve our communities. Updates from each site will continue to be shared both by email and on social media.

We know this is disappointing news and we share in your disappointment. This summer will look like no summer any of our sites has ever seen before, and the loss of summer program for this year has already begun to cause our hearts to grieve.  But God’s steadfast love and faithfulness extends to our communities just as it has to all generations before us, and just as it will to the generations of happy campers for years to come.  We draw now on God’s strength as we make the choice to keep our communities as safe as possible, and we pray every day for the health and wellbeing of every member of our wide network of Upper New York families.  We are so grateful for the love and support we receive from you and will do all we can to love and support you in whatever ways we can during this time.  We can’t wait to see you all again: safe, happy, and healthy.

In Christ,

The Camp & Retreat Ministries Staff and Committee

Posted on May 13th by Matthew Williams



We are grateful for all those who have joined us for #GivingTuesday over the past few years. In just a few short days— on Tuesday, May 5th—we invite you to join us for a very special #GivingTuesdayNow. This is a new global day of giving and unity to help support beloved organizations experiencing unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

If you are in a position to do so, we would be grateful for your financial gifts to the Upper New York Camp & Retreat Ministry General Fund. This particular fund helps support the day-to-day ministry of all five our camp and retreat centers (Aldersgate, Asbury, Casowasco, Sky Lake, and Skye Farm) and will be used where needed most this year.

If you are a regular giver and are able to do so, please consider giving an additional gift as part of #GivingTuesdayNow.

We also understand that finances are tight for many right now. Fortunately, your voice can be a powerful show of support too! Please consider supporting us by sharing this opportunity with others; posting a photo of your favorite retreat or camp moment; or sharing a written reflection on how camp and retreat ministries have impacted your life! If you share a post on Facebook, be sure to tag @campsandretreats.

BE A #GivingTuesdayNow DONOR!

Posted on May 1st by Matthew Williams

Casowasco Produces Virtual Resources for Easter Sunday Worship

Casowasco Produces Virtual Resources for Easter Sunday Worship

Casowasco is first and foremost an extension of and resource to the local church. As congregations venture into uncharted waters during the COVID-19 Pandemic, we are seeking new ways to be in ministry with the churches and congregations of the Upper New York Conference.

With Easter Sunday approaching, we want to help churches enhance their Holy Week experience with a variety of resources from Casowasco, including worship music and tellings of the Resurrection Story filmed on location at the Lakeside Chapel at Casowasco. It is our hope that in sharing the natural beauty of the sunrise over the lake and the grounds of Casowasco can bring a spirit of hope to folks this Easter.

These resources are now available for viewing on Youtube and to be downloaded for inclusion in Easter Sunday services via Google Drive. We highly encourage churches to use any and all of these videos that they find helpful in this time!

To view all on Youtube:

To Download Individual Files for Worship Use:

Posted on April 9th by David Wood

Peace Be Still: An Update on Summer Preparations in Upper New York

Peace Be Still: An Update on Summer Preparations in Upper New York

Like many of you, we are finding social distancing to be rather challenging. We are camp and retreat people after all and bringing people together is core to what we do. As we continue to pray for you and all those impacted by COVID-19, we remain hopeful and excited for our 2020 Summer Camp Season.

Last week we announced an update to our cancellation policy to allow for cancellations up to two (2) calendar days before the start of a given session for health and safety reasons related to COVID-19. Full refunds will be issued in this case, however, our standard cancellation policy for other reasons remains in effect.

Today we are extending our early-bird discount deadlines. Registrations received by May 1st will automatically receive a $25 discount, while registrations received by June 1st will automatically receive a $10 discount.

Our refer-a-friend and sibling discounts remain the same.

We are also working diligently to secure additional funding for camperships to ensure that our programming remains accessible to all. Please do not hesitate to apply for a campership.

May the joy and hope of the summer camp experience continue to sustain you during these uncertain times.

In Christ’s Service,
The Upper New York Camp and Retreat Ministries Leadership Team

Posted on March 25th by David Wood

March 18th Update from UNY Camp & Retreat Ministries Leadership

March 18th Update from UNY Camp & Retreat Ministries Leadership

Update on 3/31/2020: Our sites will continue to remain closed to retreat guests until Wednesday, April 30th.

The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, is often attributed as having said, “Proceed with much prayer and your way will be made plain.”

After prayerful consideration, Upper New York Camp and Retreat Ministries will close our sites to retreat guests effective immediately until Monday, April 13th. As we continue to monitor the current situation closely, this date could be extended. However, we believe by implementing these precautions at this time, our actions will contribute to flattening the curve and allow us to continue serving the guests we love.

We continue to work diligently to prepare for this upcoming summer season. In order to best support our camper families and to help them make summer plans, we have amended our refund policy and health and safety procedures to the following:

⚬ A full refund for cancellations for health and safety reasons related to COVID-19 will be granted until two calendar days before the start of the session. Our standard cancellation policy for other reasons remains in effect.

⚬ A member of the site staff will contact the parent/caregiver of the camper to complete a verbal pre-camp health screening at least 48 hours prior to arrival. This will be in addition to the screening already a part of our check-in procedures

At this time, we continue to accept registrations and applications for the summer season as well as guest-group bookings for the remainder of 2020 and 2021. We also continue to accept applications for open positions on our summer/seasonal staff teams.

While our sites are closed to retreat guests, our year-round staff teams will be working remotely or practicing safe social distancing as we deep clean our facilities and work on those “rainy day” projects that will enhance your next visit!

We continue to pray for our local and global communities as we forge ahead through uncharted waters. We also pray for your continued good health and look forward to serving you when we are all safely able to be together again!

The Upper New York Camp and Retreat Ministries Leadership

Posted on March 18th by Matthew Williams

UNY Camp & Retreat Ministries Responds to COVID-19 Outbreak

UNY Camp & Retreat Ministries Responds to COVID-19 Outbreak

Dear Valued Guests, Campers, Participants & Families,

We strive to provide a time and place in which all who attend our camp and retreat centers in Upper New York, can get away from the hectic pace of the world and just be… with God, with Creation, and with one another. One of the things we do to ensure that this sort of experience can safely continue is to keep an eye on what’s going on in our region, our country, and our world.

Like many of you, we’ve been monitoring the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) over the past few months. As you likely already know, all of our centers operate under American Camp Association standards. In addition to setting the standards for the camping industry, the ACA also provides its members with some incredible resources—most recently on COVID-19. We are also fortunate to have a great working relationship with our County and New York State Departments of Health, which also continue to provide us with valuable resources. We are focused on staying informed and taking proper precautions during the current climate, while continuing to host our spring guest groups and prepare for our awesome upcoming summer season!

While we monitor the news, we are even more conscientious about continuing to do the things we always do, like disinfecting surfaces in between retreat groups, staying home if we’re not feeling well, and washing our hands a lot! We are adding sensible precautionary measures as well, including a daily sanitization of high traffic surfaces while guests are on site, increased guest and staff education around CDC recommendations for effective handwashing and safe sneezing/coughing, an increased availability of hand sanitizer/hand washing stations in our buildings, and heightened staff awareness to our personal and communal health. We are also currently reviewing our summer procedures, including check in, and will let you know if/when we make any updates to those.

In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the situation closely as it evolves and follow any and all applicable recommendations put out by the CDC, ACA, and New York State Department of Health. We commit to keeping all our guests, campers, participants and families informed throughout the coming weeks of any further steps taken in response to this concern. The continued health, safety, and well-being of all our guests is our top priority, and we look forward to serving you both through and beyond this current situation. If you have any questions or would like to discuss any concerns further, you are welcome to call or email us at any time, we’d be happy to talk with you!

Upper New York Camp & Retreat Ministries Leadership

Posted on March 14th by David Wood

Summer Camp 2020 Registration Now Open

Summer Camp 2020 Registration Now Open

Registration is now open for our exciting slate of 2020 summer programs at Aldersgate, Casowasco, Sky Lake, and Skye Farm! Additionally, Asbury Retreat Center will continue to offer exciting retreat opportunities for children, youth, and adults throughout the summer season. Information on program opportunities at Aldersgate Camp & Retreat Center will be available in the coming weeks.

We are also excited to announce some changes to our available discounts for 2020!**

summer camp discounts

Early Bird Discount:
-Register by March 1st and get $50 off!
-Register by April 1st and get $25 off!
-Register by May 1st and get $10 off!

Refer-a-Friend Discount:
-Refer 1 new camper and receive a YETI water bottle!
-Refer 2 new campers and receive a free gift AND $50 off!
-Refer 3 new campers and receive a free gift AND $100 off!

Sibling Discount:
-Each sibling who attends camp receives $40 off, this is applicable across all Upper New York Conference camps.

**Please note that, NEW THIS YEAR, discounts are already built into ALL ALDERSGATE programs, so no additional discounts/incentives will apply.

Also new for 2020 is a decentralization of our registration process for summer programs. Each site will be handling their own registrations, which means all registration forms, paperwork, and payments should be sent to the local site. Contact information for each site and the link to register is listed below:

Aldersgate Camp & Retreat Center:
To look at the full list of programs and to register:
3343 St Rt 38
Moravia, NY 13118
315-364-8756 (phone)
315-364-7636 (fax)

Asbury Retreat Center:
To look at the full list of programs and to register:
PO Box 218
Silver Lake, NY 14549
585-237-5262 (phone)
585-237-6863 (fax)

Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center:
To look at the full list of programs and to register:
158 Casowasco Drive
Moravia, NY 13118
315-364-8756 (phone)
315-364-7636 (fax)

Sky Lake Camp & Retreat Center:
To look at the full list of programs and to register:
501 William Law Road
Windsor, NY 13865
607-467-2750 (phone)
607-467-4612 (fax)

Skye Farm Camp & Retreat Center:
To look at the full list of programs and to register:
1884 East Schroon River Road
Warrensburg, NY 12885
518-494-7170 (phone)
800-627-0052 (fax)

Posted on January 15th by David Wood

Final Installation of 2019 Advent Series

Final Installation of 2019 Advent Series

The final installment of our 2019 Advent Study is based on Luke 2:1-20.

The gospel of Luke is the only gospel that provides us with a full birth narrative of Jesus Christ. This story tells us of peace. Peace on earth. Peace to all whom God loves. We can imagine the peace Mary must have felt finally holding her son, or the peace the shepherds experienced when they saw that what was spoken to them by the angel was real. This was the promised messiah, here in the flesh.

God choose unlikely people to announce the messiah’s birth. The shepherds! They were seen as lowly and unimportant. Yet God uplifts them to share the good news that the messiah has come!

Guiding Questions for small Group Discussion:
1. As Shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks by night, they were probably fairly peaceful, before the angel of the Lord appeared. But what kind of peace must they have experienced after meeting the Messiah? Would it have been the same peace Mary felt?

2. What does this statement mean to you?
Peace among those whom God favors (NRSV)
Peace to all men & women on earth who please him (The Message)
Peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased (New Living Translation)

3. Why would it have been shocking for people to hear news about the messiah’s birth from the shepherds? Who do you think would announce a messiah’s birth in our generation?

4. Mary and Joseph were turned away at the inn in Bethlehem. This was because of the census being taken. All of Joseph’s family was in town! Have you considered they must have been turned away by family? How must have Joseph felt?

Posted on December 20th by David Wood

Advent with Casowasco: Week 3 - Joy

Advent with Casowasco: Week 3 - Joy

The third installment of our 2019 Advent Study is based on Isaiah 11

The book of Isaiah foretells the coming Messiah that we know today as Jesus. The ancient Hebrews were faced with turmoil, conflict, oppression, and it was often hard to look at their circumstances and feel joy. Yet in these times where it would be easy to despair, they were given the promise of joy to come.

The image of something new coming from the roots or remains of the past is one that we can take solace in when we struggle to find joy in our daily lives. We know that we are part of a lineage of faith, that salvation is promised and joy is ours for the taking because of Jesus.

Guiding Questions for Small Group Discussion:

1. Knowing that the one we anticipate has a Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and fear in the Lord, what joy does this give you?

2. What does it mean to delight in the fear of the Lord?

3.Where have you found joy this advent season? From what stumps/roots of the past has this joy grown from?


Posted on December 13th by David Wood

2nd Installment of Advent with Casowasco Released

The second installment of our 2019 Advent Study is based on Luke 1:26-56

This week we reflect on Mary, the mother of Jesus. While Mary is strong in her faith, and sure of the love of God, she does what we all would do, she questions how she it is possible that she of all people is chosen by God for this work.

As we continue our journey, we should take time to reflect on the times in our life that we have felt God’s call to action. What holy work has God set aside for us to complete? Do we feel worthy of the call? Do we feel capable of completing it?

The answer? On our own, it’s no. However, we as people of faith know that we are not called to this work alone. We have a covenant with the God of creation, a covenant of love. Our God pledges to work with us and through us on the journey.

Guiding Questions for Small Group Discussion:

1.Reflect and discuss the above questions in relation to calls you have felt from God.

2.Mary finds herself facing a great amount of social criticism, yet still is able to praise and love God in the face of it all. Have you ever found it difficult to praise and love God in the face of overwhelming obstacles?

3.Have you ever experienced God’s love in a surprising way? Was the experience overwhelming? Did you doubt yourself or your worthiness? How did you respond?

Posted on December 6th by David Wood

First Installment of Advent Study - Hope

First Installment of Advent Study - Hope

Advent with Casowasco: Stories for the Season: Week 1 - Hope

The first installment of our 2019 Advent Study is based on Mark 1:1-8.

We begin our advent study with John the Baptist and the message of hope he brought, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecy and preparing the way for the coming of Jesus. This is the start of a journey, and while we know that journey leads to the Cross and ultimately the Resurrection, the people who heard John speak had no clue where this journey would lead them.

As we begin our journey through Advent, we do not yet know where it may lead, or where we may find ourselves at the end of it. However, God has prepared a way for us, and will guide us along the way.

Guiding Questions for Small Group Discussion:

1. Who has been the John the Baptizer, the voice crying out in the wilderness in your life?

2. What have you anticipated for in the wilderness?

3. What does it mean to you to have a living hope?

4. How did John the Baptist provide hope? To the Judean countryside? To Jerusalem? To you today?

5. What doubts do you think were in the hearts and minds of the people who heard John’s message of hope but could not yet see how it would come to be fulfilled?

6. What messages of hope has God been sending you lately? Have you doubted them because you do not yet see how they may be fulfilled?

Posted on November 29th by David Wood

Casowasco Announces 4-Part Advent Video Series

Casowasco Announces 4-Part Advent Video Series

Join us each Friday throughout Advent as we explore Stories for the Season! Each video will be published Friday afternoon and contain music and story to help us in this season of preparation, as we journey towards the celebration of the birth of Christ! Churches, Sunday School Classes, Youth Groups, Families, and anyone else who would like are invited to not only join us each week, but to use these videos as a resource this advent season! Our first installation will be on Friday of next week (11/29) and will be posted on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and We hope you’ll join your hearts with ours this Advent season!

Posted on November 22nd by David Wood