Suttle Lake Camp Ministry of Hospitality

March 15, 2018

Reflections on the Seven Foundations for Camp & Retreat Ministries 

Foundation 2: "Extend Genuine Christian Hospitality and Community"

A Perspective from Suttle Lake Camp

by Jane Petke, Director of Suttle Lake Camp

Joan D Chittister, a Benedictine nun and author, wrote

“Hospitality means we take people into the space that is our lives and our minds and our hearts and our work and our efforts. Hospitality is the way we come out of ourselves. It is the first step towards dismantling the barriers of the world. Hospitality is the way we turn a prejudiced world around, one heart at a time.”

Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, by Joan Chittister

These words beautifully express intentions and beliefs behind the Christian hospitality that is at the core of our ministry at Suttle Lake Camp. While providing good food, comfortable beds, and friendly smiles to our guests are all important, we belief that true Christian hospitality means much more. 

At Suttle Lake we are committed to do our best to provide for your physical needs, which go hand-in-hand with your deeper spiritual needs.  Our kitchen staff are committed to providing healthy meals and alternatives for dietary restrictions even when it takes extra effort, so that each guest can be nourished and cared for while immersing themselves in the camp experience.  Our maintenance staff make every effort to keep trails clear of ice and snow in the winter and keep porch lights on to warmly light the way back to cabins at night; they do this not only for safety, but so that as many obstacles as possible are removed for guests so they are more free to work on their own goals for being at camp.  Behind the scenes we are praying for each group before, during, and after their time at camp, lifting up specific needs that have been shared related to their goals and struggles, as well as individual concerns. 

On the surface these actions may not be all that different than when you stay at a hotel, a regional bed and breakfast, or even when visiting family.  At Suttle Lake it matters that our actions are motivated by the understanding that Christian hospitality requires extending ourselves and meeting people where they are in order to build relationships and community.  We are genuine in who we are as a ministry and individual staff. 

We also sincerely anticipate seeing the light of Christ in each of our guests. This means that we want each person that comes to Suttle Lake to experience a piece of God’s love and care, knowing they are welcomed and respected as a child of God. What that looks like will be different for each person and each group, and so we work with leaders to create

  • an intentional space that supports the formation of a community that leads to deeper connections;
  • a space where the power of grace can be experienced while sharing a cabin;
  • a space of respect and compassion that allows strangers to become friends over a meal or a walk through the forest.
It is our blessing to be a part of creating these sacred spaces at Suttle Lake. Our lives are enriched as we listen and learn from our guests, witnessing the beauty of the Spirit at work in the camp community.
The Peace of Christ,


© 2014 Camp and Retreat Ministries:

A partnership between The Oregon-Idaho Conference of The United Methodist Church
and The Episcopal Diocese of Oregon