Saint John’s Camp History

The roots of St. John’s Camp date back to the 1970’s with a growing community of young adults who held frequent retreats together. These retreats focused on community building, studying the early Church fathers, fellowship, prayer, teachings, singing, and games, as they desired to cultivate their life in Christ.

As this community of young believers grew, along with their interest in the ancient Church and liturgy, they eventually became members of the “Evangelical Orthodox Church (EOC)”. They began raising families of their own, and soon – as “being fruitful and multiplying” will do – there was a growing number of young children. With an eye towards this next generation, they wanted their children to have the same experience of life in Christ through community and koinonia, thus the camp and retreat tradition continued. Summer camp was held annually in various locations before settling in 1992 at Camp Rivervale in Mitchell, Indiana (where it remains to this day). The summer camp and seasonal retreats drew youth from across the United States as well as Canada. 

In 2002, many members of the Holy Trinity EOC parish were brought into the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) under Archbishop Job of blessed memory, in the Diocese of the Midwest. That summer was the first summer as “Saint John’s Camp”. With the same energy and desire to share the experience of community and fellowship in the Kingdom of God, Saint John’s Camp has continued to hold an annual summer youth camp, a fall family retreat, and a winter high school and young adult retreat, still drawing youth from across the United States.

In the words of one of the camp’s original founders, Fr. Joseph Gibson of blessed memory, “One of the main purposes of these gatherings is [and always has been] to bring together people that represent the diversity of the Christian experience, focusing on the lived experience of our young people in the Church in order to create an intensive, Spirit-filled, Life-giving, life-changing community of love, acceptance, non-judgmentalism, and safety.”

By the Grace of God, these camps and retreats have continued for over 40 years, maintaining the same Christ-centered focus on community and fellowship, and nurturing the development of lifelong friendships so that our participants may grow in the fullness of the Christian faith and discover the depth of God’s love.

Glory to God for all things!

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