By Hannah Shepperd
In the summer of 2018, the Pacific Northwest Conference (PNW) of The United Methodist Church saw 1,513 campers. That number may look different in 2020.
By April of each year, these hubs of connection and growth are busy ramping up for summer months. In May, groups start to trickle in. By the first week of June many sessions are underway, and campuses are brimming with fellowship.
Covering the entire state of Washington, the Northern Panhandle of Idaho, and a small portion of British Columbia, the PNW is home to four United Methodist camp and retreat centers — Indianola, Lazy F, Ocean Park, and Twinlow — strategically located across the region. Twinlow Camp, located in Rathdrum, Idaho, encourages potential campers to have hope, sharing in a recent Facebook post “stay home now, and hopefully we can get out and play this summer!”
A Spokane, Washington pastor also ushered in hope during the state’s stay-at-home order, challenging his Facebook friends to consider supporting PNW’s Camping and Retreat Ministries. Pastor Cody Natland went live on his social media page in early April encouraging donations for these ministries. The catch? If he raised $1,000 in just over two weeks, he would shave his beard. Some may see this as a small feat, but the Moran UMC pastor has not shaved his famed facial hair in about a decade.
“Would you shave your beard for a million dollars?!”
Yes. In fact, I’ll do it for just $1,000!
If my Facebook friends (and anybody else!) will give $1,000 in donations to support the Camping Ministries of the PNW Annual Conference, I’ll [shave] my beard — and see my face for the first time in over 10 years!
Natland shares his motivation in the video: “Church is important, and camping is important.” His passion for camping ministries is evident, as he recollects their impact on his faith journey and where he is today.
Another passion? Natland continues, “I have had a beard nonstop for about as long as I could grow a beard,” as he presents a photo of himself from 11 years ago — the last time he saw his chin. Upping the ante, he pledges that if he raises $2,000 his Facebook friends will also get to choose how he shaves his beard. He will offer up a variety of hairstyles, tally the votes, then keep that style for a week.
Natland reflected on his son’s recent experience at camp, and expressed his hope for others to get the same opportunity “to know that they have a safe, and fun, and loving community.”
As promised, on April 22, Natland again went live. He had raised over $4,000 for PNW Camping and Retreat Ministries.
Natland sent a poll to friends a few days prior — knowing they had well surpassed the $2,000 goal — regarding what particular shave they would like to see. He announced a tie between ‘mutton chops’ and a tribute to his father’s style from the 1970’s, and settled for a few days of each shave.
Over the next seven days the pastor provided social media followers with cheerful updates on his new facial hair, ending the week with a unique “Mutton Chops a la Martin Van Buren” style.
A week later, on April 29, Natland posted a final update while shaving off his new style. He announced a grand total of $5,173 raised from at least 44 donors. Natland ended the video thanking his donors while his son declared his new shave “so scratchy!”
“Thank you all,” Natland closed, “this is our opportunity to support them just as they have supported us, and given us incredible experiences, and incredible experiences for our children.”
—The four Camping and Retreat Centers of the PNW are: Ocean Park, Indianola, Twinlow, and Lazy F. You can find more information on these ministries at pnwcamps.org.