Mar-Lu-Ridge is a beloved home to many. We are a mountain with a long history of transformative experiences and we welcome you to come and join in the ministry. To give you a glimpse of the way the Spirit is present here at Mar-Lu there follow some unedited quotes from parents, campers, staff and retreat patrons.
Click on a box below to hear from some of the people that have experienced Mar-Lu-Ridge since 1959.
Tammi Hale, mother of 3 campers
Mar-Lu-Ridge is my place of peace. Every year I waited for summer to come around because I knew that was when I could go to MLR. Sitting in the chapel, sitting at the outdoor chapel, or up on shock rock looking out over the valley below from that great mountain top gave me an incredible sense of peace. Today I am a Mom of 3 current MLR campers and Mar-Lu continues to give me that peaceful feeling. The activities, bible studies, friendships made, and songs continue to have a place in my heart. I still have friends today that are from my years at MLR, and I still can’t wait to be up on the mountain at Mar-Lu-Ridge.
Beth Downin, former staffer and mother of 2 campers
My daughters have experienced God’s Love at Mar-Lu through retreats, day events, Day Camp, Family Camp, and Mini-Camp. It’s been fulfilling for me, a former camper and staffer, to see them come ‘home’ to the place I still hold so dear. I know we are all safe and loved on our mountaintop refuge.
Pr Darcy Percy, Lord of Life LC Fairfax, VA
At Mar-lu-ridge in the evening, after the sun has gone down, I love sitting around one of the campfires with students from the congregation I am serving as we are there for a weekend retreat. I love watching the fire blaze; it’s soothing. I also love watching and listening to the kids having fun roasting marshmallows and enjoying the s’mores. I love participating in the devotions, faith talk, and prayers that are shared. I even love smelling the smoke from the campfire.
Then, at some point, we are quiet and I look up into the sky and I see the stars and sometimes the moon shining bright, a sight that not far away we rarely see because in the hustle and bustle of life, we seldom look up. I hear the leaves rustle, feel the wind on my shoulders, and I find myself in awe of the wonders of God and God’s creation.
It is these types of experiences that happen all throughout the weekends when I bring students to Mar-lu-ridge, that keep bringing us back – glimpses of God and how God is at work. It is these experiences that the place and people of Mar-lu-ridge enable and the Holy Spirit moves us to whether it be watching the kids discover what it means to be a community and work as a team while doing challenge courses or participating in their prayers before mealtime and throughout the day. It happens also when discovering God’s gifts of grace through talking about baptism in small groups, getting to know another person over a delicious lunch, or worshipping in the chapel whose view is a masterpiece.
God is truly present in the place and people of Mar-lu-ridge camp and making an impact in the lives of all who gather here.
Meg Rudy, Summer Staff 2012 from Colorado Springs
The very first thing I learned during staff training at Mar-Lu Ridge was not CPR or how to zip line (though, rest assured, we got to those things eventually), but how quickly human beings can come to know, trust, and love one another. I had never been to the Mid-Atlantic region, let alone to Mar-Lu Ridge, when I joined the Summer Staff in 2012 and, before leaving my home in Colorado, I prepared myself for somewhat of a solitary adventure. Within just a few days after my arrival, the Mar-Lu Ridge staff proved me wrong. We were a body of over forty people, with hardly anything in common except for our summer job, and I felt profoundly close to each counselor. I concluded that it must be a phenomena experienced by any group of college-aged students living in close quarters for a few days, yet by the first week with campers, I conceded that it was not our age, our interests, our religious perspectives or our personalities that brought us together, but our faith and the love of Mar-Lu Ridge. I observed as my group of eight or nine junior high-aged campers came together, despite differences in race, personality, faith, ability, and allegiance to Bieber or to One Direction. Within the span of a week, nothing could or would shake our tightknit group. From my experience at Mar-Lu Ridge, I discovered that these barriers between people are only what you make them and that intimacy between people is not only possible, but powerful.
Mark Parker, Mission Start Pastor from/in Baltimore City
I’m an unabashed city kid. Shoot, more than that, I’m an unhealthily-obsessed Baltimore guy. But I’ll admit, pulling onto a steamy Highland Avenue last night with a tired son, two cars filled with junk, a hungry cat inside, and a pile of mail waiting for me… part of me longed to get back on the highway and start heading back west to Mar-Lu-Ridge
Now, part of that is purely practical. 🙂 Up at ‘the ridge,’ Mr. Tim and his great staff cook three excellent meals a day. Up at the ridge, I can swim every afternoon if I feel like it, or stay up late into the night running around the woods with people half my age. Up at the ridge, I can set my laptop and phone aside (not that it works well, anyway) and focus on the people right in front of me. Up at the ridge, the temperature runs about five degrees cooler than the valley–and even cooler in comparison to the baked concrete and asphalt of Highlandtown.
But a lot of my appreciation for Mar-Lu-Ridge runs much deeper. Like sailing and anchoring for the night on a quiet creek off the Chester River, or like hiking by moonlight on the Appalachian Trail, there is real spiritual value for me in being immersed in God’s Creation, in having things that are green and growing and loud and alive all around me. Beyond that, even, Mar-Lu-Ridge is great to me not because it is an escape from reality, but because there young people (and older) can freely be their own selves. There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of pretending, a lot of careful guarding and protecting of ourselves in other parts of our lives. That’s especially true for young people at school and even at church, trying to avoid social scorn while figuring themselves out and managing the expectations of adults or peers. At camp, at Mar-Lu-Ridge, you can be, and most kids are, truly themselves–without being judged or excluded or minimized–just with being loved. Not because it is some perfect dream world–but because the staff and the campers alike choose to make it that kind of community, and because God blesses them in that.
I can’t commend Mar-Lu-Ridge enough to y’all. It was a privilege to spend a half-week with the Wesby family up there for Family Camp in June. My hope and prayer is that more of our kids and families will be able to immerse themselves in this unique community in the years to come.
Krista Sickert-Bush Luther Place, Washington, DC
What a JOY it is to have Mar-Lu-Ridge Camp in our “backyard!” Our friends and family church group, as well as our youth group from Washington, DC, have their annual retreat at this amazing place. We not only enjoy fabulous home cooked meals (#nodishes), we relish the time we can spend together in Christian Community all while supporting our local Lutheran Camp. Thank you Sarah and your amazing team for creating a space where all are welcome.
Foday Kanu, Summer Staff 2012 from Bowie, MD
For those that have experience Mar-Lu-Ridge, What do you think of when you hear “Mar-Lu-Ridge (MLR)”? There is no absolute answer to this question, but for me MLR is an experience of an unexplainable feeling of belonging. The people in MLR are caring, giving, open minded, and weird (unique). My time at MLR was nothing short of amazing, because my experience as a counselor was no more different than that of a junior camper during most camp daysJ. In the beginning I was homesick like most of my mini-campers, but a week after my return home I couldn’t stop reflecting on all the fun I had during my time there and I was thinking of when next I can see some of those familiar faces from camp. My time at MLR was also an opportunity to learn about God and to serve. The bible studies at camp teach me how to have an intimate relationship with God through my interactions with others. Also as indicated in the bible studies, we serve God when we serve one another. Thanks to the nurses, Mr. Elliott, and Mrs. Sarah, who gave me the opportunity to be a medical technician; an experience I will forever cherish in my future endeavors in the medical field. My encounter with the beautiful children I was fortunate to meet as a medical technician made me more humane, and they helped me see life from a whole new perspective. MLR is crazy and I’ve never experience freedom as I did last summer, and I accredit that to the wonderful counselors I can now call friends, and the campers who magically made me a grown up and a kid all at the same time (It’s confusing but rightfully so, because MLR is an easy concept to understand but one cannot understand it without a firsthand experience). MLR is a spirit and I’m still possessed by it.
Jennifer Tapler, camper 2008-2012
Mar Lu Ridge has been a huge part of my life ever since the first time I camped there. I’ve made friendships that still last to this day and continue to make new ones each and every time I go. The time I spend there leaves me feeling rejuvenated and inspired to spread God’s word, I always feel as though I can bring the mountain home with me and break it off for others as well. No matter how long I’m there, whether it be a day or two weeks, I always feel at home.
Mike Eshbaugh, WV Emmaus Leader and long-time MLR Retreat Patron
Over the past 27 years, more than 4,500 members of the WV Emmaus Community have been blessed by the “Mountain-top” experiences at the Mar-Lu Ridge Conference Center. It is a great setting for experiencing the presence of God, and witnessing the power of His Holy Spirit. The view is magnificent, the location is convenient, the food is outstanding, and the Mar-Lu staff makes every effort to accommodate our needs.