November 30, 2014
By Fred Koenig
When it was announced in September that there would not be camps at the four Conference owned camping and retreat centers in 2015, it was also announced that the camping program would continue, it would just be at alternative locations. The formation of what that will look like took a big step forward on November 8, when people who were interested in leading camps came together with the camping and retreat center board and Conference staff to try to match their plans for camp with available locations.
“Today our hope is to find a place for every camp director here,” said Camping and Retreat Ministries chair Ron Watts.
The person charged with making that possible is Scott Burdin. He is the former associate director of Camp Jo-Ota, and currently works for the Missouri Conference as the director of facility and logistics of residential camping. He presented eight options for the camp directors.
- Babler State Park: This state park located near St. Louis has an Outdoor Education area that operates independently from the rest of the public state park. It has the capacity of 150 people.
- Logan Valley: This Presbyterian-owned camp is in the Ozarks near Van Buren. It is organized as two-separate campgrounds in one location. One has a capacity of 120, the other has a capacity of 75.
- Eagle Rock: This is another Presbyterian-owned camp, located at Eagle Rock, MO, which is on the Arkansas border. It has a capacity of 250.
- Cross Pointe: This Assemblies of God camp is located at Lake of the Ozarks. It has various accommodations consisting of bunk houses, a retreat center and a hotel that add up to a capacity of 1,000 people.
- Mound Ridge: This Presbyterian-owned camp is located near St. James in the Mid-State District, this camp has the capacity of 110.
- Central Methodist University: This United Methodist-related university located in Fayette has the capacity for 450 people.
- Heartland Presbyterian Center: This camping and retreat center located on the north side of Kansas City has the capacity of 78 campers.
- Wesley Woods: This Iowa Conference owned Methodist camp is about an hour north of the Missouri state line, near Des Moines. It has a capacity of about 80 people.
Date availability at each location varies. Some are on hold for most of the summer, others are only available for a few weekends.
Rev. Jim Presig opened the meeting with a devotional. A pastor at Lee’s Summit, he said he thought he was asked to lead the devotional because he has a history of leading churches through difficult change. He recognized that some people were opposed to the decision to not have camps on Conference owned property in 2015, and to the proposal to sell the camps. He offered II Timothy, chapter 4 verse 2 as guidance to those who are not in agreement “...proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.”
Watts said the question the board has been asked most frequently is why they didn’t continue to use the Conference-owned camps for 2015. “We could have kept the sites open and had camps in 2015, but site directors would have lived under a cloud of uncertainty about their future and the future of the sites,” Watts said. “Where would we be then if a site director quit in April, trying to hire somebody to work four months?”
Following the site directors meeting, a group of people opposed to the closure of the Conference-owned camp sites held a rally in the parking lot, which was attended by about 70 people.
The Camping and Retreat Ministries Board has put together three sets of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the changes to camping ministries. You can read all three FAQs on the Conference website at www.moumethodist.org/pages/detail/744