Mission & Vision
“To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."
Building authentic connections in Christ, community, and creation
7 Core Foundations:
- Providing Places Apart
- Extending Christian Hospitality and Community
- Nurturing Faith and Discipleship
- Developing Christian Spiritual Leaders
- Collaborating with United Methodist Churches and Agencies
- Teaching Creation Care and Appreciation
- Equipping guests to do love and justice
- Safety First
- Respect and responsibility
- Commitment to Spiritual Growth and Renewal
- Building Relationships and Community
- Fun in God’s creation
- Stewardship of resources
What we do ...
The site is rich in history dating back to 1811 with the start of an iron ore forge. Around 1900 the site was used as a Boy Scout and YMCA camping area. In 1934 the current facilities were under construction with the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of FDR's “New Deal” plan to get the country back on its feet. After W.W. II in 1946 the United Brethren Church started a summer camping program which continues today under the auspices of the United Methodist Church.
Camp Penn provides seasonal retreats in the months of May, September and October. Weekly summer camps in June, July and August are for children ages 6 through 18 which are set in a Christian environment with a variety of themes and events.
In 1963 the Methodist Church purchased Greene Hills Camp from Betty Jane (Greene) Heine and husband Martin H. Heine. This property consisted of approximately 226 acres, the residue of the Barree Forge property, and was an operating dairy farm until this time. A public sale was made of the machinery, dairy equipment and livestock, and the Lodge was turned into a retreat center. Pennsylvania House Furniture, Lewisburg, Pa, provided all the furniture on the first floor. In April of 1964, plans were implemented for construction of a rustic summer camp. This entailed drilling a well, building a pump house, and installing a sewage system. A 24'x70' dining hall was built by E. D. Shope of Huntingdon, and the camping area consisted of five tents and six hogans. The local unit of the U.S. Army Reserves and various other volunteer workers helped in the construction of the summer camp. The cabins currently in use, replacing the tents and hogans, were built in 1995.
The original property was owned by an attorney from Carlisle, PA who purchased the land in 1918, and in the early 1920's built the stone lodge (the Gray House) and the Family Cottage. The lodge was constructed of native mountain stone and timber from the property. In those days a project of this size was quite an undertaking, and offered employment to a large number of men from the area.
The second owner of the property acquired it in the 1930's. On September 11, 1962 it was sold to the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church. Since then, the physical property has seen many changes, but the principle of offering Christian hospitality in a natural setting to our retreat guests has remained the same for 50 years. We strive to offer an ideal place to heal your soul while strengthening your faith
Wesley Forest was originally built as a private retreat by Chester K. Robertson, who was a wealthy coal baron from Shamokin, PA. Construction of the Main Lodge began in the 1930’s and continued for several years. In addition to the Main Lodge, there were 3 smaller guest cabins, a dining/kitchen facility and a 3 bay garage which housed the limousines. The garage also had a small apartment for the chauffeur and his wife. Today, the Main Lodge is called Penn’s Creek Lodge and the guest cabins are Lick Run Cabin, Weikert Run Cabin, and the Minister’s Cabin. The garage and chauffeur’s quarters are now used as the Craft Shed and Nurse’s Station.
Many local people living in the Weikert area were employed both during and after the construction as laborers, cooks, and groundskeepers. During the summer many guests were invited to the Lodge and several famous movie stars from the era were here at one time or another, including Claude Rains, Ralph Belamy, Bette Davis and Gloria Swanson.
In 1961 the Methodist Church purchased the original buildings and approximately 400 acres of land for $60,000. Several years later a land swap with the State of Pennsylvania (we traded Chimney Rock for a larger parcel to the east of the Adirondack Shelters) increased the acreage to 440. In 1978 development of the Mountain Side area began and the Site Directors Residence was the first building to go up. That was followed by the Musina Dining Hall and Hemlock and White Pine Lodges which were completed by 1983. By the late 1980’s the lake, summer cabins, and bath house were built and a full summer camping program was in place. The two lodges, bath house and all of the summer cabins were constructed with the help of volunteers, who have always played an important role at the campsite.
For all of the changes that have taken place, much of Wesley Forest is still remarkably the same as it was in the 1920’s.