In response to a number of recent inquiries about our camp properties and the Outdoor Ministry program, I thought I would share with you a current financial overview of the sites and program.
When I took over the role of Treasurer in 2012, I was informed that the camping program was not financially sustainable. We thought that the summer of 2013 would be our last year of running a camping program at our two camp properties. To make the program sustainable, the Board of Directors made some very significant decisions. Those decisions included putting Templed Hills Camp on sabbatical, moving our camping program to Pilgrim Hills, reducing our staffing levels and contracting with United Camps, Conferences & Retreats (UCCR) to manage Pilgrim Hills Camp in Brinkhaven.
Since contracting with UCCR for site management, the camps went from a showing a financial loss to generating over $20,000 at Pilgrim Hills that we can put into capital improvements. It had been decades since we were in this financial position. Because of this success at Pilgrim Hills, the Board of Directors decided to put Templed Hills back into operation. We are now contracting with UCCR to have them manage this camp for the next two years as we determine how best to use Templed Hills. As a result of this decision to contract with UCCR, an earlier motion to put both camps up for sale with the intent of only selling one is now tabled. In two years, we intend to evaluate where we are with the management of the camps at that time and will then make a decision regarding the future of the camp properties.
I am also pleased to report that by the end of this year, we will have spent a combined amount of well over $50,000 on capital repairs and improvements at both camps. This was totally funded through profits that UCCR generated and some generous donations. A major capital improvement that we are looking to complete in 2017 is the much-needed replacement of the large deck attached to the dining hall at Pilgrim Hills. You will be hearing more about this as we gather more information on projected costs and fund raising.
We are continuing to move forward on a motion by the Board of Directors to sell property that is adjacent to the camps but not used for programming purposes. At Templed Hills, we sold to Don Harding, former camp manager, the home that he has lived in for a number of years. We are currently in the process of preparing to sell adjacent acreage of farmland and woods at Pilgrim Hills. Once the surveying process is completed, likely in November, the next step will be to meet with the auctioneer to schedule a sale date for those adjacent properties.
The other part is the management of the camping program itself, which includes our summer camps, Labor Day Camp, Junior High and Senior High retreats and Women’s Lantern Fellowship retreats. Regarding this portion of our ministry, we reduced our overhead by reducing staff and cutting expenses in the central office. At this reduced staffing level, in 2017 our camping ministry will be supported with roughly one-third of Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM) dollars available for use by the Ohio Conference. This funding support is in addition to the registration fees that we receive. Registration for the 2017 season will be available soon after the first of the year.
Ohio Conference Treasurer
Pastor, Sylvania UCC