UCC.org takes notice of our efforts and search for a new Executive Director

DuBois horses running to Deer Run pasture

Want to know what happens when you tell the national UCC organization about how awesome you are?  They pick up your story and write about how awesome you are!

Our efforts with DuBois 6.0 and beyond are getting attention: Southern Illinois camp thriving, growing with capital campaign

DuBois Center is currently searching for a new Executive Director. Learn more about this position, on the UCC ministry opportunities page under the Illinois South Conference of the UCC.

Thanks to all the Fall Festival horse volunteers!

The ticket count shows that we provided 450 arena rides for our guests this year. That’s 1,350 laps of the arena over the six hours of Fall Festival. It takes a lot of people to make this happen smoothly and successfully. Our volunteers took tickets, fitted helmets, helped riders mount the horses, and walked the horses. We also have a volunteer monitoring the arena at all times to make sure our riders, walkers and horses are safe. Another assists with any issues that come up in the arena and helps swap out horses as needed. Hours before the gates open, volunteers bring the horses in, feed them, groom them and get them ready for the day.

And we can’t forget the horses. This is a long, probably boring, day of work for them and they all handled it very well and without any issues.

Many thanks to everyone who helped in the barn and the arena this year.

Hay is for Horses

On Friday afternoon, DuBois Center staff and volunteers worked along with a local farmer to bale some of the hay from our fields into square bales for our horses. In about three hours, the group baled, loaded, unloaded and stored 369 square bales. About a third of the bales were sent up our new (to us) hay elevator into the barn. The rest has been stored in the hay shed. Using our own square bales to feed the horses in the barn is healthier and saves us money.

Great thanks to Tom Karhoff for coordinating the cutting and baling of the hay. Thanks to Josh Meredith for working with the baler to load all those bales onto wagons. And thanks to the rest of the staff and volunteers who helped to unload and store the hay.

Photo above (l to r) Rylee Hodges-Stone, Sharon Murphy, Sandy Kuether, Scott Kuether

Group photo below (l to r): Meredith Malone, Mary Wagner, Tom Krueger, Tom Kahrhoff, Rylee Hodges-Stone, Josh Meredith, Jonathan Copple.

Larry Reeble also helped out, but didn’t end up in any of the photos. Thanks to all.

Welcome Nevada and Sierra

Today we welcomed Nevada and Sierra to our herd.  They were donated to camp by friends of one of our regular horse volunteers.

Nevada is a 19-year-old dun mare.  She has a lovely tan coat with a dorsal stripe and black mane and tail.  Sierra is a 17-year-old paint mare.  They are both very friendly and were excited to explore their new surroundings.

We’re looking forward to having them find their place in our herd and learn the routine at camp.


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DuBois Center Awakens

On Saturday, March 27, DuBois Center sponsored their first events since March of last year. The Girls Scouts of Southern Illinois, under the leadership of Anne Townsend, brought small groups out to the camp for their “My Brownie, My Pony and Me” and “Mommy and Me Paint a Pony” day programs. They have had these programs on their calendar for a year, hoping we might be able to accommodate them this spring. Thanks to the amazing work of the Outdoor Ministry Team in creating good safety protocols and procedures, to the Horse Team who generously volunteered their time and leadership, and to amazing DuBois staff members, the day was a big success.

Anne shared some of the comments she heard from the event:

  • “This was one of the best-organized events I have ever gone to. My girls had a blast!”
  • “My girls had so much fun they don’t want to leave. Do you want to keep them here?”
  • “My daughter has autism and ADHD. She has a hard time interacting in a group setting and sometimes is disconnected, but not today and while she was around the horse. She and I would love to come back and do more programs like this. Today was one of the few days where I got to see my daughter shine.”

While this past year has been a difficult year for DuBois Center with countless hours the Conference leaders have spent in designing several contingency plans for programming and creating best practices in order that groups might be able to enjoy DuBois Center this spring and summer, it has been completely worth it!!

Please continue to hold your camp, DuBois Center, in your thoughts and prayers. With your support, we know we can bounce back from this past year even stronger and ready to give everyone who experiences DuBois Center a sense of the special, sacred space it is.

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We’re Looking for a Few Good Horses

As we prepare for Summer Camp, we want to add two or three horses to our herd. We’re hoping someone out there knows of a horse or two that might be a good fit for camp that could be donated or purchased at a reasonable cost.

Here’s what we are looking for:

  • Reliable kid-safe trail horses – walk, trot and canter with good brakes.
  • Not too young and not too old – our preference is for horses between 5 and 15 years old.
  • Large and sturdy – at least 15 hands tall and well built. They will often be carrying children, but they also need to be able to carry large adults.
  • Healthy, easy keepers – our herd spends much of their time living naturally in our pastures and woods. No horses with special dietary or health needs.
  • Good temperament – they will be working with kids much of the time and need to be patient and easy-going.
  • No bad habits – no bucking, rearing or cribbing

If you know a horse that is available and might be a good camp horse, contact Scott Kuether at sekuether21@gmail.com.

The DuBois Experience

AmaniIn these tech-centered times, it is increasingly important for kids to unplug, get outside, play hard, get a little dirty and connect face to face. In addition to heaps of classic fun, activities that help campers build relationships and grow in their faith are woven throughout each day – whether exploring the creek, gazing at the stars or cooking over the campfire.

Cabin groups of 5-8 campers combine to form DuBois family groups. These family groups experience much of camp life together. On the first night, these campers and their leaders discuss and choose many of their adventures for the week. In addition to family group activities, older campers also have “choice times” when they select from a variety of options.

We offer a progression of activities based on the age group, program focus and the skill level of our campers. There are new challenges and experiences for the youngest of campers, as well as for older youth.


DBunkuBois Center has three distinct lodging areas for summer campers:

Main Camp: Four cottages near the dining hall in Oak Lodge. Each cottage has a common room between two sleeping rooms. Each sleeping room has bunk beds for 8 and a bathroom with shower.

Rustic Village: Eight cabins split between two units with one centrally located shower house. Cabins have screened windows and doors, a ceiling fan, electricity, and sleep 8 in bunk beds.

Hickory Lodge: A lodge in main camp near the dining hall in Oak Lodge. Hickory has hotel-style sleeping rooms, bathrooms off the hallways and a meeting/activity room.


LunchMeals & Dietary Concerns

Most meals are prepared and served in Oak Lodge. Some sessions do have cookouts or special meals in different areas of camp as part of their program. Campers are offered three hearty meals a day, plus snacks. Fresh fruits and veggies are served daily. There is plenty of food and usually enough options for even the pickiest eater. Please do not send any extra food with your camper UNLESS arrangements have been made in advance with the Program Office. Supplemental foods will likely be stored in the Health Center and distributed by the Health Care Provider, (i.e.: gluten-free desserts).

Dietary Restrictions: We are able to accommodate SOME special dietary needs. Please contact the Program Office at 618.787.2202 or email dcinfo@DuBoisCenter.org at least three weeks in advance of the camper’s arrival, to discuss special dietary needs.

So Much to Explore!

Horseback Riding • Crafts Archery • 9-Square-in-the-Air • Ga-ga • Goofy Songs • Nature Discoveries • Campfires • Night Hikes • Faith Chats • Teams Course • Cook-outs • Kwik Cricket • Kayaking • Water Games • Shelter Building • Swimming • Beach Fun • Water Mat • Fishing • Creek Walks • Crazy Skits • Camp-Style Worship • Team-Building Activities • B.L.A.S.T. – Bible Learning And Spirit Time


ApacheNo doubt about it, our horses are the most popular kids in camp. Spending time with “the ponies” is a favorite activity for many. Campers receive instruction in basic barn etiquette and how to safely lead, mount, dismount and ride a horse. Our riding instruction is based on safety and recreation. It is not intended as instruction for horse shows or for competition.

Weather permitting, part-week campers have the option of riding once during their two- or three-day stay at camp. Campers attending week-long sessions have the option of riding twice during their stay. The first ride consists of time in the arena to get comfortable with the horse and practice basic skills. A short trail ride may also be included – if time permits. The second ride is usually a longer trail ride.

Rides are cancelled whenever there are heavy rains, storms, lightning or the heat index reaches 100° degrees. If rides are cancelled, we do our best to reschedule whenever possible.

Horse Campers spend significantly more time around the barn working on grooming and horse care, as well as riding daily. They also help feed the horses in the morning and muck out the stalls at the end of the day.

What if the camper does not want to ride? At DuBois Center, we believe in “challenge by choice” – the camper’s choice. While no one is forced to participate in any activity, each is encouraged to try at least a first step. In the case of the equestrian program, this might mean petting a horse with a leader nearby. SUCCESS! Often small steps lead to a child being more willing to try riding.

Alternatives for those choosing not to ride include: spending time with a small group and a leader and cheering on their family group; working on a craft or other horse-related project; or perhaps joining the riding staff in the arena and “assisting” with instruction. For those with significant allergies, check with your doctor regarding appropriate options.

Leading HorseSAFETY FIRST! Our summer barn staff have significant training and experience working with horses and young people. They know our trails and our horses. The safety of your child is their first priority.

Helmets, specifically designed for horseback riding, are required for all riders, as are long pants that are not slick (preferably jeans) and proper footwear, including SOCKS. DuBois Center supplies helmets and boots, and we have some pants available; however, campers are encouraged to bring their own jeans. Also, pack one or two pairs of taller/crew-height (above the ankle) socks since boots can rub on bare ankles. Horse Campers should bring extra pairs of jeans and long socks because theirs may get quite dirty and smelly.

Fall Festival Challenge Update

Thank you for your most generous support of the DuBois Center 2020 Fall Festival Challenge. Being a major fundraiser for DuBois Center, we knew that the necessary cancellation of the annual Fall Festival due to COVID-19 safety concerns would produce a financial hardship. The negative impact was reduced thanks to the extravagant gifts of those of you who responded. A portion of the proceeds from this challenge has been used to purchase much needed helmets and saddle blankets for the vital ministry of our equestrian program.

Nancy Wagner, Outdoor Ministry Team Chairperson

Matthew 6:21: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Back in the Saddle

This past weekend, DuBois Center and our horse volunteers welcomed the first guest group riders since March! It was a beautiful day to make new horsey friends and to be out and about. As you have seen in regular posts, the horse team has been busy caring for and tending to the horses, barn and trails, but THIS is why they logged all those hours! Four family groups took advantage of the great weather. In addition to riding, they brought picnic lunches, explored the hiking trails and played in the leaves.

Dates are available in November for family and small group rides. Minimum number of participants is 4. For more information contact DuBois Center at dcinfo@DuBoisCenter.org or 618-787-2202.


The Great Escape

The horses at DuBois Center are the most memorable part of camp for many. Some past campers, who are now in their 40s and 50s, can remember the names of their favorites and even which ones they rode each year. We love them, but just like children, they can be mischievous.

Last Sunday morning, a neighbor called to alert us of “The Great Escape.” The herd was found enjoying a leisurely Sunday morning brunch in our north fields. The fields, which had been freshly cut and baled, presented a smorgasbord too tempting to resist. Calls were made to semi-local camp staff and volunteers, and the horses were soon back inside the safety of our fences.

THANKS to Josh, Ryan and Tom for their extra effort!