For most of the last year, contractors and volunteers have been streaming in and out of Templed Hills, the camp and conference center near Bellville Ohio, that is owned by the Ohio Conference. As one with childhood memories of camp at Templed Hills, this makes my heart sing!
Templed Hills was on “sabbatical” back in 2014 when it became clear that the conference was unable to financially sustain two camp sites. For the next three years, Outdoor Ministries utilized Pilgrim Hills, the other camp of the Conference, while Templed Hills was mostly dormant. During 2017, the conference board reached the difficult decision to sell Pilgrim Hills and focus resources on Templed Hills as the single site for Outdoor Ministries here in Ohio, West Virginia, and Northern Kentucky.
Templed Hills was dedicated on June 14, 1958, so most of the principle buildings are now sixty years old. Any of you who have lived in older houses are familiar with the steady deterioration that occurs over time, and that certainly was true at camp. There was some deferred maintenance when the camp was taken out of use and sitting idle for three years took an additional toll. However, thanks to a dedicated group of “camp lovers,” capably led by Jim Ditzler, Templed Hills is once again beginning to shine.
The most noticeable improvements are at Memorial Hall where the inside has been entirely refreshed – new paint, flooring, beds, seating, and bathroom fixtures. Decisions about furnishings were made with consideration of the wide range of guests that will use the camp. Beds are more comfortable, with springs in the bedframes underneath thick mattresses. Seating has durable finishes and many of the chairs have arms to make it easier for older adults to get up and down.
Most of the renovations at Skipper Lodge, our dining hall, are behind the scenes, but important nonetheless. The kitchen at Skipper has a new walk-in cooler, a new epoxy floor, new ceiling tiles, and fresh paint. Most of the exterior doors have been replaced which improves appearance and makes them weather-tight. Many of the bedrooms in the lower level have new drywall and ceiling tiles. I’m especially excited at the plans to install two handicapped accessible restrooms on the main floor. This addresses a long-standing deficiency at the dining hall. It doesn’t make Templed Hills fully accessible, but does move us in that direction.
As we began work on the camp, we discovered mold in some areas, primarily lower levels and some bathrooms. This isn’t particularly surprising after the disuse but did require careful attention. Drywall and fixtures were removed in many locations and professional cleaning was done, as needed. Finally, we had environmental air testing done throughout camp to make sure that the buildings were ready to welcome guests.
We are also taking steps to lesson our impact on the earth. We have already installed LED lighting throughout the principle buildings and plan to install a solar array to furnish much of the electricity for Memorial Lodge. Low flow fixtures were selected as bathrooms were refurbished.
At this point, no changes have been made to the building footprints, though some dreaming has already been done for the future. Our focus has been on making Templed Hills safe and hospitable for the 2018 season. However, we are beginning to consider what the next steps should be. Before making those decisions, we want input from across the conference, and we want to make sure that usage of the camp is sufficient to make additional investment.
While work continues, the first group was welcomed to Templed Hills in January and more are scheduled for the coming months. We are confident that camp will be ready for campers when summer arrives. Please watch for the announcement about the summer camp season, which is coming soon, and keep Templed Hills in mind for events that your church is planning.
Blessings and peace,
Moderator, Ohio Conference