Category Archives: PYOCA

Camp PYOCA Summer 2016

Friends of Pyoca,
There’s so much happening at Pyoca right now! Summer camp is coming to a close and the retreat season is gearing up. The Pyoca Yurt Project Fundraiser is being held on Sept. 10, and we’re hosting our second annual High School Conference, Oct. 7-9.

Summer Camp
We’ve had a phenomenal 2016 camp season, ministering to over 500 campers since the beginning of June! With the theme “Fearless Faith,” campers learned to be courageous in their lives as Christians as they deepened their faith and learned the importance of serving others in need. I would like to extend deep thanks to our wonderful staff and volunteers for their great leadership, making Pyoca a transformative and safe experience for our campers and families.

I’d especially like to thank Rob and Nancy Peterson, who’ve been directing Orchard Park Presbyterian Church’s Camp Friendly at Pyoca for 20 years. Last week at camp, family and friends and former staffers traveled to Pyoca for a surprise celebration for the Petersons. Many amazing and sometimes humorous stories were shared, all of them exhibiting the deep and far reaching impact that Rob and Nancy have had on the campers and the Pyoca community. I sincerely thank them for their vital ministry and support of Pyoca’s mission.

The Pyoca Yurt Project Fundraiser
Join us at Pyoca on Sat. Sept. 10 from 3-6pm (after the Presbytery of Ohio Valley Assembly) for the Yurt Project fundraising event.  The open house starts at 3pm with a worship service at 4pm to decomission our last remaining rustic cabins.  We’ll have a silent auction, bbq, and music following the service. Help us honor the past and look toward the future–and maybe take a piece of cabins 1 or 6 home with you!

Pyoca High School Conference: Oct. 7-9
Join us for our second annual HS conference themed “This is My Story” featuring Rev. Mihee Kim-Kort as the keynote speaker and Jorge Sayago-Gonzalez as the worship and music leader!  Last year we had over 60 high schoolers from Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky attend. Help us make it even bigger this year. More information can be found at:

Grace and peace,
Rev. Dr. R. Jacob Hofmeister

Pyoca’s Inaugural High School Conference; 2016 Summer Camp Registration Opens!

Dear friends of Pyoca,

The fall retreat/conference season is in full swing at Pyoca Camp, Conference, and Retreat Center.  Last weekend we hosted our first-ever Pyoca High School Conference with keynote speaker and former Moderator of the PC(USA) General Assembly, Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, and singer/songwriter, Rev. Jorge Sayago-Gonzalez, leading music and worship.  60 high school students and 20 youth leaders and staff from Indiana and Kentucky joined us for 3 days of inspiring worship and challenging keynotes on issues of race, gender, and justice.  After the keynotes and worship, attendees broke out into small groups to explore the issues more in depth and deepen their faith through conversation and discussion.  The weekend was also highlighted by Pyoca’s ‘patented’ adventure block with activities including high ropes, climbing tower, boating, and the very successful Mud Run!  During the Mud Run, high schoolers ran a mile-long obstacle course around the lake, complete with mudpits, flooded areas, uphill climbs, and straw bale obstacles.  The weekend was capped off by a moving communion service, and then worship on top of Pinnacle Peak (better known as Mt. Baldy).

Camp Pyoca’s tentative 2016 summer camp schedule is up on our website, and registration goes live on November 1st! This year, we have simplified our summer programs with camp names that correspond to age groups:
Explore for grades 2-4,
Discover for grades 4-6,
Challenge for grades 7-9, and
Transform for grades 10-12+.

Also, new for this year, we are offering the Pyoca Work Camp called Transform–Serve, where campers can serve through mission work at Pyoca and in the local community. We are also continuing our growing Dad’s Camp program which gives fathers one-on-one time with a son or daughter and follows an enriching curriculum that deepens relationships with God and each other.

Another change for Summer Camp 2016 is our pricing system, which gives families three choices to support Pyoca’s excellent summer camp programs.  Scholarships are available as well.  Below is a description and rationale of tiered pricing.

As part of the Pyoca Family, I am deeply grateful for your enduring commitment to support Pyoca’s life-changing ministry. Thanks for everything you do.

Grace and Peace,
Rev. Jake Hofmeister


Tiered Pricing Description:

We know that every family has different abilities and resources to pay for camp, which is why, this year, Camp Pyoca is offering a voluntary three-tiered pricing program.  In the past, Pyoca has offered a single subsidized rate which is lower than the true cost of camp, made possible by generous presbytery support, gifts from churches, and individual donations.  The three-tiered pricing model gives families the option to more fully support the total cost of Pyoca’s excellent summer camp.

  • Tier 1 is Camp Pyoca’s historically published rate and does not reflect the full cost associated with providing quality summer programs.  Presbytery mission support and donations supplement thisprice to support the full cost of Pyoca’s summer camp programs.
  • Tier 2 is a midpoint between the historically published rate and the full cost of summer camp, giving you an opportunity to choose to pay a “little more” to support Pyoca’s ongoing ministry.
  • Tier 3 most closely reflects what it costs to run Camp Pyoca including facility maintenance, staffing, utilities, and equipment. Choosing this tier helps Pyoca’s summer camp remain sustainable for years to come.

Prices and a more detailed description will be available when registration goes live on Nov. 1.

Fall Conferences at PYOCA

High School Conference – “Take the Challenge”

This fall, Pyoca is hosting our first annual Pyoca High School Conference, and we want you to join us October 16 – 18th! Keynotes by Bruce Reyes Chow and worship/music with Jorge Sayago-Gonzalez make this weekend one for the books.

More Info Here

UKirk Regional Retreat for Kentucky/Indiana – October 9-11, 2015 

Do you feel drained? Do often wonder if you will ever get a chance to rest? Do you long to reconnect with nature and with God?

You might need a Pause.

This year in connection with Pyoca Camp Conference and Retreat Center we are offering a Ukirk Regional Retreat for all the PC(USA) Campus ministries in Kentuckiana. We offer a chance to take a rest, learn from each other and experience the beautiful outdoors. There will be workshops, worship, prayer and peace. We welcome this chance to pause.

More Info Here


PYOCA Camp, Conference, and Retreat Center –

PYOCA Summer 2015 Update

Summer Camp Registration

Registration for summer camp will remain open through July. Join us for another amazing summer at Pyoca. Sign up now!

Dearest friend of Pyoca,

I can’t believe it! There’s only 5 days until summer staff arrives for training and only 17 days until summer camp officially begins!  Pyoca staff is working tirelessly to get things ready to make 2015 the best summer yet.

New for this year, we’ve added: new elements onto both the high ropes and the low ropes courses and an aqua log addition to our water trampoline.  Along with our amazing summer camps at Pyoca we our continuing our Day Camp programs at churches around Indiana.  This will be our first year with dedicated Day Camp staff, focusing on taking the best of Pyoca out on the road.

Our theme for this year’s summer camp is Power Up: Living in the Spirit!  Campers will learn the impact of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  They will reflect on their individual fruits of the Spirit and also living Spirit-led lives in community.  Campers will learn about the promise of Jesus that the Holy Spirit will be with them always.

This summer, we will also begin a new strategic planning process.  With the help of professional camp consultants, our staff, advisory council, stakeholders, and guests will create the “roadmap” that Pyoca will use to grow over the next 5 years and beyond.  We invite you to be a part of this process through your input and resources.  While we are not accepting Capital Campaign donations currently, we’d greatly appreciate donations to go towards our annual fund to make both our summer camp programs and this strategic planning process successful!

Christ’s peace,

Rev. Jake Hofmeister
Executive Director

High School Conference – “Take the Challenge”

This fall, Pyoca is hosting our first annual Pyoca High School Conference, and we want you to join us October 16 – 18th! Keynotes by Bruce Reyes Chow and worship/music with Jorge Sayago-Gonzalez make this weekend one for the books.

More Info Here

PYOCA Camp, Conference, and Retreat Center –

Celebration of Service

You’re invited to a Celebration of Service
Please join the Pyoca Advisory Council for an open house honoring Rich Swartwood and his family for their 20 years of camp ministry.

March 1, 2014
From 2pm to 5pm
4:30pm – Closing Blessing

Pyoca Camp, Conference and Retreat Center Lodge
886 East County Rd 100 S
Brownstown, IN 47220

In honor of Rich’s twenty years of service, the Advisory Council will be collecting donations for the general scholarship fund. If you are unable to attend, cards are being collected by Mandy Ernest. Please send these to the address above. Checks can be made payable to Pyoca Camp, Conference and Retreat Center. Please add “Scholarship Fund” to the memo line.

There will be a memory book at the open house.  We encourage you to bring a memory message or photo to add to the book.  Again if you are unable to attend this event, but would like to add a memory or photo, you may email these to Mandy Ernest.

PYOCA Transition Information

As news of Rich Swartwood’s (Executive Director) call to serve Clearwater Forest Camp and Retreat Center was announced on Saturday, the Pyoca Advisory Council has been diligently working on establishing and executing a transition plan for his departure on March 7, 2014. Please find a few frequently asked questions below related to the transition and upcoming events.

(1)    Is Pyoca operating “as normal” during this transition time?

YES! All programming (retreats, work groups, camps, and other activities) will continue as scheduled. For more information on scheduling a retreat or registering for camp, please visit the Pyoca website ( or contact Mike Davis.

(2)    Pyoca’s Summer Camp Ministry – Are all programs still planned?

Camp will go on! Summer programming will not change; all camps have been scheduled and registration is now open (visit Volunteer directors have been identified, summer staff applications have been received, and the Advisory Council is anticipating summer staff hiring recommendations within the next few weeks.

(3)    Where is Rich going? Who will assume his responsibilities?

Rich’s leadership of Pyoca will end on March 7, 2014. Rich was not looking to leave Pyoca. Instead, God called him to his next ministry as Executive Director at Clearwater Forest Camp and Retreat Center. This is Rich’s childhood camp, and the Swartwood family is excited to begin a new chapter in their ministry.

Effective March 7, 2014, Mike Davis has been named Interim Head of Staff. Mike is currently the Interim Assistant Camp Director; he has been in different leadership capacities during the past four summers at camp and has greeted many retreat groups during the retreat season. The Advisory Council is thankful for Mike’s dedication, commitment, and future leadership of Pyoca’s staff.

(4)    If I have questions, whom do I call?

For any camp, retreat, or programming questions, please contact: Mike Davis (812-358-3413). Mike will hold office hours on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and all-day Friday. You may leave a message or email him at anytime. If you have an immediate need, you may contact: Frank Mansell (317-291-0308), Advisory Council Chair or Allen Colwell (812-945-3531), Executive Committee Chair.

(5)    How can I celebrate Rich’s ministry?

The Advisory Council is hosting an open house to celebrate Rich’s ministry on March 1, 2014 from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Pyoca Lodge. All are invited to attend. In honor of Rich’s twenty years of service, we will be collecting donations for the general scholarship fund. If you are unable to attend, cards are being collected by Mandy Ernest. Please send these to 886 East County Rd 100 S Brownstown, IN 47220, and address to Mandy Ernest. Checks can be made payable to Pyoca Camp, Conference and Retreat Center. Please add “Scholarship Fund” to the subject line.

The Advisory Council’s initial focus has been establishing a short-term transition plan (March through August), continuing all programming as normal, and establishing a framework for a long-term plan. This long-term plan will include creating a job description, establishing an Executive Director search committee, and continuing to execute on Pyoca’s mission.

With a full and grateful heart,

Pyoca Advisory Council

Celebrating Rich Swartwood’s Ministry at Pyoca

The last 20 years have been full of God’s grace at Pyoca Camp, Conference and Retreat Center. We have witnessed incredible changes to the camp and its ministries: new and improved facilities, expanded programming for all ages, and innumerable stories of lives transformed by the Holy Spirit through outdoor ministries.

None of this would have been possible without the energy, vision, and leadership of Rich Swartwood. Rich’s passion for outdoor ministry is evident in the quality of staff who work alongside him, an irrepressible desire to always look to what is next, and his deep belief that children and adults discover the triune God in nature and through the church’s ministry in places like Pyoca. Rich and his family have been a blessing to the Presbyteries of Ohio Valley and Whitewater Valley, and the Body of Christ has truly been strengthened in his faithful service as executive director at Pyoca these two decades.

But, as we know from Ecclesiastes, there is season for everything, and a time for every matter under heaven. For Pyoca and for Rich, a new season is about to begin. Rich has been called to serve as the Executive Director of Clearwater Forest Camp and Retreat Center in Deerwood, Minnesota. Rich’s last day at Pyoca will be March 7, 2014, and he will begin his work at Clearwater Forest the following week. The Pyoca Advisory Council met with Rich today, and has begun the process of planning for this transition. While we are saddened to have to say goodbye to someone we have grown to love and respect, we also know that we are in a healthy and strong position as we look to a future guided by God’s abiding presence.

There will be several opportunities over the coming weeks for you to celebrate Rich and his family’s ministry with Pyoca including an Open House on March 1st at Pyoca. We hope you can share with Rich and Caroline our gratitude to God for all they has done in our collective lives. We will keep you informed of not only plans related to this time of transition in leadership, but also the excellent spring and summer programs which will take place this year at Pyoca. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact any of us, as we are grateful for your ongoing support and prayers.

With a full and grateful heart,

Frank Mansell (317-291-0308)
Allen Colwell (812-945-3531)
Carol Foulke (317-908-6993)

Celebration of Rich’s Ministry

The Pyoca Advisory Council invites you to come and celebrate with Rich and his family at an Open House on Saturday, March 1 from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Pyoca.

A Facebook event has been established for RSVP’s.