Episcopalian named new director of Camp Bishopswood

Posted June 29, 2012, at 3:38 p.m.

HOPE, Maine — Georgia L. Koch has spent every summer for 34 years creating community at Camp Bishopswood, owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. This summer will be her last as head of the camp located on 75 wooded acres on Lake Megunticook.

Michael Douglass of Freedom, N.H., has been named the next executive director of the camp, the diocese has announced. He will take over this fall when Koch retires.

Douglass comes to Bishopswood with a strong background in year-round and summer camp ministry, middle- and high-school education and marketing and development, according to a press release the diocese issued last week.

“As a young camper at church camp and at Boy Scout camp, I knew I would always be involved with camp,” Douglass said last week. “I believe that camp is an amazing vehicle for children and youth to develop a relationship with God and become part of a community that supports them.”

Douglass served as a year-round program director at Calumet Lutheran Camp and Conference Center in New Hampshire for five years and as a math teacher in two New Hampshire public schools.

He has a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from the University of New Hampshire and has completed work toward a master’s degree in education from Plymouth State University in Plymouth, N.H.

“I love seeing the camp experience in action,” Douglass said in the press release. “It starts with parents dropping off their nervous first-time campers.”

Speaking on behalf of the Bishopswood board of trustees and the search committee, board co-president Robert A. Johnston of Waterville expressed his enthusiasm for Douglass.

“We feel that Mike is the perfect person to continue the wonderful ministry that is Camp Bishopswood,” he said. “His strong background in residential camping and teaching, combined with his boundless enthusiasm and strength of character, will allow him to be an outstanding leader for many years to come.”

The camp was built as a private girls camp in the mid-1930s. The Episcopal Diocese of Maine purchased it in 1961 and named the cabins for former archbishops of Canterbury.

Koch, 61, of Portland said for a 2008 Bangor Daily News story about Bishopswood that she spent just one week at a summer camp as a child. Her family couldn’t afford to send her more often, but memories of her time in the outdoors stayed with her.

She studied recreation and outdoor education in graduate school at Pennsylvania State University in Philadelphia. A cradle Episcopalian, she felt the tug toward outdoor ministry in the 1970s when she worked for a parish in Baton Rouge, La.

The biggest changes Koch has seen over her years at Bishopwood have been in technology. Computers with email and Internet access are in the camp office. Staff members arrive with cellphones even though access on the lake is limited. The abundance of cellphones has put an end to the line at the camp’s landline phone on Saturday nights.

The campers, however, haven’t changed that much.

“The kids are more the same than different, but they seem to feel more of a sense of entitlement now. That worries me some,” Koch said. “We’ve tried to keep camp simple because simplicity is one of our basic values. Our big concession to technology is that on Saturday nights we show a movie [on DVD] for the kids and staff who are staying over for the next week. But mostly, we’re unplugged.”

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