Annual Conference ended on a great note. Just before the CFA report and the "Where will the 2010 Conference meet" report (which are always the last two) we heard the official report of the camping ministries. I was very pleased with how they provided both positives and negatives, both honoring what this camp in question is and has been, and being truthful about what it needs to be.
The began by asking themselves what our liability would be if they kept the camp open. They then asked what our spiritual liability would be if we closed it.
What a powerful, important question to ask, especially as they shared the statistics that 60-80% of Christians make their profession of faith at camp.
They revisited the information given in the briefing, that in 2001-2002, the camp experienced a decline in attendance, which we thought was attributed to the incident that occurred there, however camps across the country experienced the same percentage in decrease as we did as a result of 9/11. They continued by saying that the camps that survived and thrived are the ones who "retooled" and moved on in a better direction. We did no such thing with this camp, and the task force proclaimed that they see this camp to be at ground zero.
So, what the task force proposed was to build a new intentional connection between the Conference office and the camping ministries. They propose to operate the camp as only a summer camp until additional usage and income mandates the hiring of a full time director for the camp to be open year round. In the meantime, the lodges will be available year round for "self-use" by churches (meaning you have to cook your own meals).
They propose to update the camp by cleaning the cabins and making them more user-friendly. The kitchen and the dining area are in dire need of renovation, including a whole new kitchen and air-conditioning the space. They acknowledge that we are competing with camps across the state that are already offering much better facilities.
On a broader note, they encouraged the conference to take camping ministries to a place where we are doing a camping ministry that no longer takes a back seat and does things half way, but looks forward and meets the needs of children and youth. They look for the day that this camp can apply and become accredited by the American Camp Association.
They talked about how to fund it, and then told the story of the priceless pearl for which the man was willing to sell literally everything he had. As he walked out the door of the store, the store owner returned all of his possessions to him, saying they are not yours, but you must use them to serve others as they come to you. We have been given this camp back. It is not ours - it is God's. What do we do with this gift that we have been given?
The proposal passed unanimously!