Nestled into the curves of the Vermillion River, Bellwether Farm is a camp, retreat, and education center dedicated to exposing the wider community to the creation that sustains all of life. As a working farm, its life focuses on four primary activities.
Facilities & Grounds
Bellwether Farm is a unique and affordable option for your next gathering. The center offers brand new facilities featuring a green technology, renewable energy, and water reclamation systems.
Bellwether Farm Summer Camp is a place of love, belonging, acceptance, and transformation. This summer, 15 staff, including five counselors from our partner diocese in Belize, took up residence at Bellwether Farm for six weeks of camp. The theme this year was “Great and Small,” taken from the line in the popular hymn "All Things Bright and Beautiful" (Hymnal 1982, p. 405). Campers were reminded each day that while they may be just a speck in the universe, the creator of that universe loves them for who they are today and every day.
During bedtime prayers (a time of reflection and prayer to close the evening) on the first night, campers wrote down what they wanted to leave behind and any burdens they wanted to set aside for the week of camp. On the last assembly before campers departed, we incorporated the ash from burning those burdens into terra cotta clay creations, creating a reminder that we can carry each other’s burdens. While God can’t make our problems evaporate, God can transform them into something beautiful and communal.
In our most well attended summer camp yet, we had 184 campers participate this year, 71 of whom are Episcopalian. We hosted three weeks of “traditional” summer camp, complete with archery, canoeing, field games, fishing, swimming, cooking, hiking, beekeeping, farming, and arts and crafts. We also offered mini-camps for our youngest campers who wanted to try out camp for just a few days as well as an overnight family camp for people of all ages.
This year, we experimented with “specialty” camps. These camps included Bellwether Camp “greatest hits” (like archery and campfires) but gave designated time in specialty blocks each morning. During Reading and Theater Camp, Kelcie Dugger (St. Luke’s Cleveland) taught improv exercises and theater technique and held rehearsals of sketches for a final performance. Members of St. Paul’s, Cleveland Heights led Reading Camp, which included reading and writing exercises, guest story-tellers from the National Association of Black Storytellers, and a local author teaching story-writing. At Music and Art Camp, Mario Buchanan (Christ Church, Hudson) led multi-faceted music education including choral singing, music history, theory, and a live interview with Sarah MacDonald, who zoomed in from England to answer the campers’ questions about being a composer. The art portion of this week included tie-dye with natural dyes, cyanotypes, and charcoal sketches of scenes at Bellwether.
Watching each weeks’ campers mature and grow as individuals and a community was an honor. We are excited to continue hearing camper and parent feedback, as well as continue relationships with campers through diocesan offerings. We are already thinking about programming for next summer, including bringing back the popular Counselors-in-Training program for our older teens. Campers who came from the Diocese of Ohio represented 22 parishes, and five more parishes were represented by our counselors and volunteers. More parishes got involved by hosting our non-local counselors for generous and hospitable weekend adventures. Bishop Jolly was a regular visitor and even
made it to the finals in a gaga-ball tournament on one of her visits. Camp was truly
a diocesan effort with campers, volunteers, and financial aid coming from a wide
range of parishes. Thank you for your continued prayers and support for the
young people of this diocese, and we can’t wait to see you again soon!
Bellwether Farm is a model of green technology featuring passive buildings, renewable energy, and more. It is a vehicle through which we can teach the wider community about fidelity to the environment, nutrition, physical and spiritual wellness, local food sourcing, food justice, and sustainable living.
Volunteer around Bellwether Farm. Opportunities are posted as they become available.