Our four areas of ministry focus: (1) Provide opportunities for worship (2) Teach the Bible (3) Build and nurture relationships (4) Go and serve.

Update from the Friends of Camp Kirkwood

December, 2016

Greetings from Camp Kirkwood.

If you recognize this greeting, you have probably received an email over the past year from Luke Dooley, the new camp director at Camp Kirkwood. The addition of Luke and his family (which had its own addition this year) is just one of the exciting things that are happening at Camp Kirkwood.

Leadership Transition

Just a year ago at this time, the leadership of Friends of Camp Kirkwood and the Wilmington Family YMCA were anxious as we bid farewell to John Belden, our camp director for three years. We celebrated that our Lord had sent John and his family to Camp Kirkwood, the right person at the right time, and we wished him well as he continued his ministry to a new home in Michigan.

The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Many of us were in prayer over these months as we looked for the new camp director for Camp Kirkwood. God has always seemed to provide the right people and resources to this ministry at the right time, in His time. Under the direction of Dick Jones and with support and input of the Camp Kirkwood Advisory Board and the Friends of Camp Kirkwood Board, Camp Kirkwood extended an offer to Luke Dooley in March to be the director at Camp Kirkwood.

Luke Dooley accepted our call (for being a camp director at Camp Kirkwood is a call to ministry) and moved his family, Taylor and daughter Tessa, here in May. This, too, was a step in faith for Luke and his family as he made this transition and welcomed a new child, Miles, who was born July 29th.

Luke is a native of Staten Island, NY. He attended UNCW, graduating in 2002. Luke has served as Associate Executive Director at Camp Hanes, a YMCA camp north of Winston-Salem and as Camp Director at Camp Chandler, a YMCA camp in Alabama. Luke brings twelve plus years of camp managing experience to Camp Kirkwood and is leading us as we transform Kirkwood to a premier camping experience for God’s children in southeastern North Carolina.

Camp Improvements

Prior to his leaving, John Belden made plans for and started the Vesper Dell renovations. Over the past winter, Coastal Serenity Group, a local volunteer group, constructed new seating for the Vesper Dell with materials purchased by Friends of Camp Kirkwood. After the benches were completed and stained, the late Philip Longest of Wallace Presbyterian Church used his construction crew to grade the site and to set all the new benches in place. (The Lord called Philip home in September 2016) The new Vesper Dell seating was dedicated to the Glory of God at the June Vesper service. Plaques are attached to each bench to recognize the contributions of supporters of Camp Kirkwood who contributed to this and other projects. The Vesper Dell now provides comfortable seating for over 220 persons in a beautiful serene worship setting overlooking the lake.benches

During the 2016 Kirkwood Creation Camp, campers planted lilies in the Edgar Wells Lilies of the Field Memorial Garden across the lake. The late Edgar Wells was one of the original camp counselors at Camp Kirkwood and spread his ministry to Presbyterian Churches, students, and friends throughout Duplin and surrounding counties. Edgar loved flowers and this field of lilies will be a lasting reminder of his sharing of his talents with his fellow man.



With his experience at other camps, Luke Dooley recognized that the sleeping facilities in the cabins needed to be updated to meet ACA (American Camping Association) standards. This fall, Camp Kirkwood replaced all the camp bunks in the cabins with new bunk beds and mattresses that are comfortable, and compliant with ACA standards. There are now 14 bunks in each cabin which brings the total camp beds to 112. The total costs of these bunks were approximately $26,000, which is $3250 per cabin. Friends of Camp Kirkwood is being asked to fund half of the cost of these new bunks.

We ask you to consider adopting one of the cabins and donating the funds necessary to pay for these bunks.bunks

Volunteers Sharing Their Gifts

With close to 200 acres of property, Camp Kirkwood requires a lot of maintenance. Over the past several years, a dedicated group of volunteers has faithfully mowed the grassy areas of camp. Kirkwood has a lot of grass that has to be mowed from March to October of each year. We celebrate the gifts of running lawn mowers and weedeaters shared by Pate Southerland, George Bridger, Bill Francis, Mary Farmer, Sam Latham, Scott Garrett, and Keith Powers from Saint Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church and Sonny Davis of Burgaw Presbyterian Church. This group also assisted with the renovations of the Vesper Dell.

In June of this past year, local Presbyterian churches held the second Kirkwood Creation Camp to kick off the summer camping season. Servant leaders from the Beulaville, Hallsville, Mount Zion, Topsail, and Wallace Presbyterian Churches supplied the staff and leadership to offer this camp to local children in our churches and communities. The leadership team of Kirkwood Creation Camp will be meeting early next year to plan another exciting week sharing God’s creation at Kirkwood in June 2017. You can be a part of this ministry to local children and share your talents.

Many of us remember summer camp at Camp Kirkwood when local Presbyterian ministers served as camp counselors for a week at camp. To continue the legacy of camping ministry, Friends of Camp Kirkwood has provided a camp chaplain for summer camp over the past several years. Ray Mendenhall faithfully shared his ministry gifts for many years. Last year, Ray and Ann moved to “blue grass” pastures on the other side in Kentucky. We celebrate the gifts shared by Ray. He left a void that took several people to fill. With the assistance of Nancy Gladden, East Community Mission Coordinator of Presbytery of Coastal Carolina, we reached out to local Presbyterian ministers to serve as camp chaplain for a week of summer camp. We celebrate the sharing of ministry gifts by Brian Doles of Mount Zion Presbyterian, Will Davis of Burgaw Presbyterian, and Jake Young of Topsail Presbyterian.

During the past year, two local Eagle Scouts completed their Eagle Scout Leadership Projects at Camp Kirkwood. Alex Signarello of Troop 19 in Wilmington constructed a life-size checker board, with benches and a storage bin. Paul Thomas Ingle of Troop 232 of Wrightsville Beach constructed two new bridges on the path leading to the Jay Mills Raft Ride. Camp Kirkwood celebrates the accomplishments of these young men and their contributions to our camp.

New Programs

As we move forward into 2017, Camp Kirkwood is adding a sling shot range, paddle boards, and a climbing wall to increase the activities available to our participants. In addition to activities, Kirkwood is also kicking off their Outdoor Education program to surrounding schools. The goal of Outdoor Education is to provide students of all ages an opportunity to receive hands on learning outside of the classroom.

New Staff

Camp Kirkwood has hired two new directors starting January 1st. Suzy Gandy will assume the role of Facilities/Aquatics Director. Suzy comes to us from YMCA Camp Chandler where she was the Program/Aquatics Director for two years. Reggie Johnson will be the new Kitchen Director. Reggie also joins us from YMCA Camp Chandler where he was the Kitchen Director as well. Both Reggie and Suzy will aid in the program implementation and general maintenance of Camp Kirkwood. Their energy, experience, and enthusiasm will allow Kirkwood to welcome more groups throughout the year.

Challenges and Opportunities

The past ten years have been a step of faith for ministry of Camp Kirkwood. We have seen the transformation from a struggling camp in decline to a growing vibrant camping ministry. We encourage you to visit and LIKE the Camp Kirkwood NC Facebook page to see pictures and videos of the great activities at our camp over the past year.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 God has blessed Camp Kirkwood. We have a “new morning.” A new day brings new opportunities and new challenges.

During this time of the year as we celebrate the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us, the gift of God’s presence with us bringing Light to the darkness, the birth of our Savior, we celebrate that we can share the Good News though the ministry of Camp Kirkwood.

Many of you have supporting Camp Kirkwood over the years with your prayer, time and money.

Going forward, we need your support to “pass it on.”

We need volunteers who can pick up limbs, mow grass, paint the interior of the cabins, wash windows, clean cabins, run a chain saw and weed eater, drive a nail, tell a story, and love God’s children.

We need funds to construct two new staff houses for our new camp staff, to pay for the new bunks in the cabins, to update the restrooms in the dining hall, to renovate the rustic area, update the pool, improve and grade the roads throughout camp, and numerous other projects to a fifty plus year old camp.

We will need a major capital campaign over the next couple of years to fund the improvements necessary to keep the fire going.

Please keep this ministry in your prayers, on your list of service opportunities, and in your charitable giving.

God bless all of you and a Blessed Merry Christmas,

Gregory Miller, Chairman

Camp Kirkwood Advisory Committee


Pate Southerland, President

Friends of Camp Kirkwood


Luke Dooley, Camp Director

Camp Kirkwood

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