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Open house at Camp Joy-El popular event

November 01, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Beth Mummert was treading familiar ground Saturday, when she took her children and nephew to the Fall Open House at Camp Joy-El.

"I actually was a camper. I came up through the Released Time program," said the Chambersburg, Pa., resident, who now helps with the state-approved religious instruction program at New Franklin Elementary School.

Mummert said she has loved coming to Camp Joy-El - tucked away on wooded property off Pa. 995 near Greencastle, Pa. - ever since she was a little girl and earned her way to summer camp there by memorizing Bible verses.

"I wasn't allowed to go until I earned free camp," she said.

Now, she likes bringing friends to let them see what the camp is all about, Mummert said.

It's common for volunteers and former campers to bring friends and family to the open house, said Terry Ortman, director of public relations for the non-denominational organization that built the camp in 1974.

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The main reason for the open house is to showcase the camp and all of its ministries, Ortman said.

Another reason is to allow children in the Released Time program to come out and see the camp, he said.

This year's open house, estimated to have drawn more than 600 people, celebrated the 25th anniversary of the camp.

Elementary students in the program are still earning their way to camp by learning Bible verses, Ortman said.

Though the scope of CBM Ministries has expanded considerably over the years, its main purpose has remained the Released Time program, he said.

Camp Joy-El came about as a result of the growing popularity of the program, which allows public school students to be dismissed from school for an hour each week for religious instruction with parental permission, Ortman said.

The program, which started in 1967 with one class in one school in Chambersburg, is now in 63 elementary schools in 22 school districts in eight counties, he said.

Starting with 19 acres of land donated by three farmers, Camp Joy-El has grown to about 45 acres with about 18 buildings, Ortman said.

It's used year-round, with winterized buildings to accommodate winter retreats sponsored by the organization as well as rentals to church groups, he said.

The open house, first held every two years, has become so popular it was decided to have it every year, Ortman said.

It always features events for all ages, including a craft fair, barbecued chicken dinner, archery, go-cart rides and games, he said.

This year's special event was a hayride with Belgian horses, Ortman said.

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