News Release: CCRM 2015 Resolution
The IGRC Commission on Camp and Retreat Ministries (CCRM) has announced that it will be bringing a recommendation in the form of a resolution to Annual Conference in June that will position the IGRC outdoor ministry for a vital and sustainable future by obtaining permission to take the following bold steps:
- Retiring, selling, and reallocating the property assets at Epworth Camp, Jensen Woods, and Living Springs.
- Redesigning East Bay Camp and reducing property size if the design allows and it is prudent to do so.
- Reducing Little Grassy property and facilities by relinquishing the lease on the north side of the camp and continuing to discern the long-term sustainability of the remainder of the property.
The recommendation comes after over a year of consultation with Kaleidoscope, Inc., a camping consulting firm based in Ohio and credited with revitalizing camping ministries through studies, strategies, and master plans in the North Central Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church, across the denomination, and nationwide with other churches and non-profit agencies. Kaleidoscope led the CCRM through a process of data collection, data review, study of industry norms and possibilities, and a deliberate and prayerful consideration of options.
The IGRC’s five conference-owned/operated camps need a combined 25,000-30,000 “user days” (a “user day” consists of one night plus three meals—roughly 24 hours of full service for one individual) to support a basic operating budget. In 2014 the camps reported a combined 17,072 user days, which is significantly less than what is minimally required to support the five camps.
East Bay, with 10,560 user days, was the only site to exceed the minimum of 5,000-6,000 required per site. Little Grassy had fewer than needed at 3,317, but has produced significant and consistent growth in campers over the last 5 years. The remaining user days are split between Living Springs (1,475), Epworth (1,016), and Jensen Woods (704).
Conference apportionments, donations for program and improvement, and deferring critical maintenance and improvements do not compensate for inadequate user revenue. In vital, sustainable camping ministries, income from camper/user fees produces 80% of the annual revenue, leaving most other sources for program development, major maintenance, remodeling, capital improvements, and mission/outreach opportunities.
The vision of the CCRM is for a vital and thriving camping and retreat ministry that partners with local churches to reach children, youth, and families in and beyond our local churches with a gospel that transforms individuals and the communities in which they live. With renewed resources it is possible.
There are several steps required to get there, the first two of which the CCRM has already taken:
- An honest assessment of the health of the ministry with respect to facilities, program, and finances.
- Discernment of initiatives to leverage better health in those areas.
- Boldly pruning to free camping ministry time, energy, and resources for re-visioning and renewal.
- Tending thoughtfully and sensitively to the many particular decisions a major change of course requires, including care of site employees and residents and disposition of assets.
- Partnering with the IGRC Board of Discipleship to create a clearly articulated and compelling discipleship process and curriculum plan for campers that aligns with the mission of the UMC and IGRC.
- Implementing the discipleship process and a plan for marketing with clear benchmarks for growth and tools for measuring effectiveness.
- Being accountable to the annual conference for outcomes.
The resolution itself will be printed in the pre-conference materials, which will be available in early April. Other relevant information will continue to be communicated through the IGRC Communications Office and in the spring, through pre-conference meetings. The CCRM also plans to host a gathering at annual conference to answer remaining questions.
In the meantime, if you have a question that others may ask as well, please contact Coordinator of Camping, Alice Shirley, firstname.lastname@example.org , 217-529-2646, or Chairperson of the CCRM, Ed Hoke, email@example.com, 618-525-4278, and it may be included in the FAQ document.