About

Nestled in the beautiful woodlands adjacent to the Bankhead National Forest sits Camp McDowell, a vital gathering spot for the Diocese of Alabama since 1948. Current and former campers alike will tell you that Camp McDowell fosters a supportive Christian community in which an enthusiastic staff supports personal growth and development for all ages of an abiding respect for each other and the world around them.

In 2015, Bethany Village was built at Camp McDowell as an expansion of our mission and ministries. Named for the place where Jesus’ friends lived, Bethany is also sometimes called “up the hill” or “upper camp”, whereas our Clear Creek area is known as “down the hill” or “lower camp”.

Bethany was a very ambitious and successful project fueled by the primary goal to do more of what Camp McDowell has already done well: show the way the world could be, a world God is calling us to become. With the addition of Bethany, Camp McDowell:

  • Is utilizing a new, fully accessible summer-camp style complex that serves more youth and adults with disabilities than ever before as we seek to strengthen existing programs and develop new ones to meet the needs of our Diocesan family and the Kingdom.
  • Is a host site for even more youth events coordinated/offered by Camp McDowell and through the Diocese of Alabama (click HERE for our calendar). We also now provide more facilities for a multitude of organizations, businesses, and groups not affiliated with the Episcopal Church that enjoy holding retreats, reunions, weddings, conferences, and meetings at Camp McDowell.
  • Is using alternative and renewable energy sources, recycling and composting with a goal of zero-waste and massive reduction of energy consumption.
  • Has an on-site farm education program with the McDowell Farm School (insert link to Farm School page) (September – May) as a companion to the highly successful McDowell Environmental Center.(insert link to McDowell Environmental center page)
  • Grows fresh fruits and vegetables on the production farm (named “Mark’s Farm” for Executive Director, Mark Johnston) and in the orchard which are used in our environmental education programs and served directly from farm to Camp table.
  • Celebrates the arts by providing a permanent platform for teaching, learning and performing in our pottery studio, blacksmith shop, and a music/dance hall through the Alabama Folk School (insert link to Alabama Folk School).

Our Mission

At Camp McDowell we show the way the world could be through worship, learning, rest, and play in the beauty of God’s Backyard. At our camps in Bethany Village, we spread the Gospel through Christian camp community, the care of creation, the gift of inclusion, and the joy of creativity and play.

Each Bethany Camp sponsored by Camp McDowell has a unique theme that nurtures spiritual, social, and creative growth specific to the age and stage of the camper in a supportive and loving community. Most programs incorporate skits, songs, art, and a healthy dose of humor to encourage learning through scripture, the traditional teachings of the church, and safe space for discussion on personal and contemporary issues with themes ranging from the environment to discipleship.

In addition to hands-on care of creation on Mark’s Farm, campers in Bethany Village may enjoy a host of fun activities, including such favorites as hiking, paddle-boats, arts & crafts, swimming in our zero-entry pool, a ropes & group action course, field games like soccer, frisbee, and capture the flag, free-time and Pasture Party (cookout) complete with face-painting and a hayride. All are welcome with love and joy so come join us!

Please contact a Coordinator for further information on the following events:

Map of Camp

For information on Family Farm Camp, Mother/Daughter Retreat, Our Time grief camp, Diocesan Homecoming, CREATE, Bethany’s Kids inclusion camp, Camper Buddy Program for Bethany’s Kids, or The Vine Initiative summer intern program, please contact Susanna Whitsett, Faith-Based Program Developer for Bethany Village at Camp McDowell at susanna@campmcdowell.com or 205.281.1903

For information on Special Session, please contact Lindsey Mullen, Special Session Executive Director at lmullen@dioala.org or 205.530.0685. You may also visit the Diocesan website to learn more about Special Session atwww.dioala.org

For information on Summer Camp on Clear Creek (“down the hill”), Fall Fling, Winter Weekend, Awakenings, or Father/Son weekend, please contact Stratt Byars, Summer Camp on Clear Creek Coordinator at Camp McDowell. stratt@campmcdowell.com or 205.387.1806.

For information on Christmas Conference, Rites of Spring, or the Diocesan Youth Lock-in please contact Susan Oakes, Youth Ministries Coordinator at the Diocesan Office at soakes@dioala.org or 205.715.2060 Ext 325. You may also visit the Diocesan website to learn more about these events atwww.dioala.org.