The way the world could be.
Our mission is to show the way the world could be through worship, learning, rest and play in the beauty of God’s Backyard.
With roots since 1923, our summer camp program is one of the oldest in the country. Each summer camp session features a unique theme designed by a priest from the Diocese and program staff that provides daily, age-appropriate programs and activities that incorporate skits, songs, art, and a healthy dose of humor. These programs encourage learning through scripture, the traditional teachings of the church, and personal and contemporary issues with themes ranging from the environment to discipleship.
The McDowell Conference & Retreat Center was established in 1978 with the construction of our first lodge, Stough Lodge. Today, with 834+ beds and 1,140 acres, we are one of the two largest Episcopal camp and conference centers in the United States and welcome over 50,000 visitors to our beautiful campus annually. Groups from two to 800+ are welcome at McDowell. With the addition of a fully handicapp accessible area to our campus in 2015 (Bethany Village), we are now also able to welcome large groups with special needs.
The Alabama Folk School at Camp McDowell was founded in 2007 as a way to enrich lives and reconnect people to music, art, and each other. The goal of our Folk School is to provide the opportunity for people to work creatively with their hands, minds, and spirits and to help preserve Alabama’s cultural heritage. Master artists, musicians, and instructors come from all over the world to share their talents with our students. Sessions occur throughout the year and vary annually. A Youth Folk Camp is available for youth in the summer.
Our program provides outdoor learning experiences that can't be found in a classroom for school groups. Learning takes place through exploration and inquiry in the forests, canyons, and streams of beautiful Camp McDowell. Participants get immersed in the beauty and splendor of nature, thereby learning the importance of taking care of the environment. We introduce them to problem-solving, team building, and ways we can make the world a better place.
Students who attend the Farm School are able to make connections about the foods we eat and how it comes to our plates. Sustainable agriculture, team-work, and hands-on caring for our gardens and farm animals are some of the experiences students take with them. Whether it be milking a goat or harvesting a carrot, students create connections and a deeper understanding of their involvement in food systems. This is an eye-opening experience of enlightenment that will impact the students for their entire lives.
Magnolia Nature School is one of Alabama's only nature preschools. During the school year, children ages 3-5 do most of their learning in the great outdoors through exploration of the farm, forest, and streams of wonderful, wonderful Camp McDowell. Magnolia uses a child-centered immersive curriculum. The preschool is partnered with Community Action Partners of North Alabama (CAPNA) to provide Head Start for many of the children. During the summer, ages 3-8 daily attend the Magnolia Summer Day Camp to explore and learn in God's Backyard.
All teachers have to earn continuing education somewhere, and we are excited to see more teachers coming to McDowell's Teacher Workshops every year! Instructors and teachers of all types come and learn effective, strategic, and exciting ways to help strengthen their classroom or team as we build them up and help them grow.
Venture Out, Meet the Animals, and Recycling Education are fun and powerful outreach programs affiliated with the McDowell Environmental Center. These programs are becoming more and more popular each season as we share the beautiful outdoors and how to care for our planet with individuals, groups, and as many people as we can reach.
Our "Upcoming Events" page includes information about events put on by McDowell. If you are looking for an event that is taking place at McDowell but is not on the "Upcoming Events" page, it may be an event that is using McDowell as their venue. You would need to refer to the event website or contact for registration information.