God's Backyard

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.



McDowell Summer Camp

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.


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Special Session

The mission of Special Session is to know Christ in all people, through ministry to and with people of all abilities. Our vision is a vibrant, loving community where all God’s children are celebrated.

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Conference Center

Whether you're planning a large-scale conference, a mid-level event, a small meeting, or a cozy gathering, we know that choosing the perfect venue for your educational, religious, or charitable event can be challenging and tedious. 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 handicap accessible area to our campus in 2015 (Bethany Village), we are now also able to welcome large groups with special needs.


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Alabama Folk School

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.


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McDowell Environmental Center

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.


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McDowell Farm School

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.


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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.