First Congregational Church
(United Church of Christ)
Rev. Toby Jones, Pastor

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Earth Keepers Nature Camp 2021 Intro

Announcing an Exciting Opportunity!
Nature Camp for Kids
First Congregational UCC, Charlevoix

Our planning team is formed and working toward offering a terrific children’s camp for our church and the community. 

We are using a really cool VBS-like curriculum for kids, designed to help them freely explore and develop a relationship with the natural world. Using the outdoors for observation, wonder, and play, this 5-morning experience will give 10 lucky kids a deeper understanding of their Creator and a genuine appreciation for the natural environment.

If you have children, grandchildren, or neighbor children who might be interested in this experience, please let Betty Wadland know. You can reach Betty at or call 517-410-9922. Here are a few details about the program, with more to follow in the coming weeks. 

Camp Dates:  August 9-13, 9 am-Noon
Where: Meet at Church covered porch and walk to the Pavilion Michigan Beach
Resources: This is an excellent model from which to choose activities, music, prayers, and family involvement. Please explore by clicking on the preview.


Children who spend significant time outdoors could have a stronger sense of self-fulfillment and purpose than those who don’t, according to new Michigan State University research linking children’s experiences in nature with how they define spirituality.  (

This Team of talented people came together to create EarthKeeper Nature Camp at First Congregational Church, UCC for the youth of our community.  Each of these people has brought a unique perspective and talent to this project.  We share a love of nature and the belief that exposing kids to this wonder will yield a lifetime of benefit.

Betty Wadland
Team Leader for Earth Keeper’s Nature Camp
Betty is a retired Registered Nurse Anesthetist and practiced for 40 years, most recently at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, MI.  Her interests include many outdoor activities and the joys and wonders that are provided by just being outdoors. Betty has been active in the First Congregational Church for 5 years.  Growing up as a “free range” kid close to nature through all seasons became the root of an intimate relationship with the environment.  Interacting with the outdoors and experiencing the wonder of creation was the inspiration for EarthKeeper Nature Camp. She and her husband Bill have 3 adult children and 6 grandchildren between the ages of 8 and 12.

Lisa Lava-Keller
Lisa has relished working with children and young adults for more than 35 years.  A kid at heart, she taught science for almost 15 years in Ypsilanti, where she brought Science Olympiad to her school and encouraged her mostly urban students to bring in anything they found outdoors that piqued their interests.  As an adjunct professor at Eastern Michigan University, Lisa showed teachers-to-be how to share fun, educational biology lessons with students. Lisa ran environmental camps and taught outdoor programs in Ann Arbor for a variety of organizations, including the Leslie Science Center and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. For 20 years in SE Michigan, she also shared hands-on projects and experiments with children in public and private schools through her business Naturally Speaking.  Now retired, Lisa was Michigan Science Teacher of the Year in 2007. And lest you think she is 100 years old, some of these activities ran concurrently!

Kelley Householder
Kelley has been a part of our church family for 7 months.  She lives and works in Traverse City as a homebound teacher for medically vulnerable students ages 5-18 years old.  Kelley also runs her own tutoring business, working with students of all ages and from a variety of schools and homeschools.  While in California prior to 2018, she was the Director of Children’s Ministry at a large church.  Kelley has worked with children in some capacity for the past 30 years.  When not working, she likes to hike, kayak, run, quilt, read, and play cards.  Kelley has two sons and a daughter-in-law, along with two grand-furbabies!

Marge McGoff
After graduating from Michigan State University, Marge taught Home Economics to Junior High students and taught a number of evening craft classes over the next ten years. Marge raised 5 children, and now has 9 grand children and 2 great grandchildren. She owned and operated a guest lodge in South Africa with a South African partner for 7 years. The lodge was located in the Drakensburg Mountain Range near Kruger National Park.  Marge learned a lot about the culture in Hoedspruit and its surrounding communities, and going on Safari became one of her favorite activities. Marge has been a long-time Michigan Garden Club member and held several leadership positions there, including serving as State President for 2 years. Marge was a member of National Garden Club Board for 25 years, which gave her an opportunity to travel the USA.

Max Charthew
Max is a longtime resident of Michigan and now lives full-time in Charlevoix. Originally from London, England where he studied engineering, Max has been involved in environmental issues, including building more energy-efficient cars. Max has travelled widely in Europe, South America and Asia, which has given him an appreciation for the connectedness of all the people on the planet and the importance of working together to enjoy and protect our environment.

When his kids were in grade school, Max was a leader for the Odyssey of the Mind national competition in SE Michigan, where he enjoyed coaching young people to solve tricky problems set by the examiners. He was also involved with the Catholic Church’s SOS program for the homeless, where he organized events and games for the kids.

Shelley Fisher
Shelley Fisher has lived in Charlevoix for 5 1/2 years, and recently retired from her position at Grandvue Medical Care Facility, where she worked as an assistant activity director/music therapist for the past 4 years.  Previously, she served as the director of a childcare center, and a preschool music teacher in the Grand Rapids area for 28 years. Born and raised in the mountains of North Carolina, she spent countless hours hiking and camping with her family and friends, developing a deep love of nature and conservation.  Shelley obtained an Associate’s Degree in music from Brevard College, and later graduated from East Carolina University in 1984 with a degree in music, specializing in music therapy.  As a lifelong learner, she completed further studies in both Early Childhood Education and Music Education.  She has used music throughout her career as a way to engage children in learning and to provide therapy for children and adults through interactive music experiences. The last position she held in Grand Rapids was with her church, Aldersgate United Methodist Church, where she served as the childcare center director.  Together with the board of directors, they established a nature- based preschool curriculum, redesigned the playground, and utilized nearby trails to encourage children to connect with nature.  Aldersgate also established an organic community garden and was a strong advocate for conservation and eco-living in the community. Shelley is currently an accompanist for First Congregational Church in Charlevoix, where she plays piano and organ, and also teaches private piano lessons.  

The EarthKeeper curriculum is based upon this program purchased from the Pastoral 

With an amazing leadership team like this, how could this EarthKeepers Camp be anything less than fantastic? Get your kids or grandkids signed up today!