Last April we started a grassroots movement called Affirm Camp to advocate for the continuation of the outdoor ministries program in the Ohio Conference of the U.C.C. Over the course of just a few months we collected over 1,000 signatures to our petition, several letters of support for camp and succeeded in putting camp in the spotlight and convincing our Conference leadership to have serious conversations about how to preserve this ministry.
This winter we embarked on a project to begin a relationship with Kaleidoscope Inc. to provide us with a feasibility study and comprehensive business plan for the possibility of our associations (Western Reserve & Eastern Ohio) to acquire and/or lead Outdoor Ministries at Pilgrim Hills. The project came with a price tag of $8,550. In less than a month, we raised over $11,500 from local congregations and individual families. Over the past month we have presented the proposal from Kaleidoscope Inc. to the Western Reserve and Eastern Ohio councils for their approval. Both councils approved this project and we have given the green light to Kaleidoscope to begin their study.
As our Conference leadership continues to work on how to put both sites up for sale, we are hoping that the work Kaleidoscope does will provide us with a unbiased look at the feasibility of continuing to do Outdoor Ministries at Pilgrim Hills. Our hope is that the results of this study can be beneficial to the Associations and to the Conference in collaboration.
Jody Oates and his team from Kaleidoscope will be doing a site visit to Pilgrim Hills, looking at the numbers from our programs for the past several years, meeting with camp stakeholders, convening a group to help them formulate their plan going forward, and working as fast and efficiently as possible to provide us with their honest, unbiased feedback on the future of camping at Pilgrim Hills. We have shared our information with the Conference Minister, Rev. Phil Hart, and the Board of Directors to keep them fully aware of all the work that we are doing.
The reality is that there are so many moving pieces and x-factors in this process at this time in the life of the U.C.C. in Ohio. Our Designated Conference Minister, Rev. Phil Hart has announced he will not be continuing his ministry as our Conference Minister once his contract is up this summer, the Ohio Conference Board of Directors could eventually be listing both camp sites for sale at any day, and they could receive offers immediately. On top of all of this, the Conference, the Associations, and our churches are continuing to have big picture discussions about the future governance structure in Ohio. As you can imagine this puts the future of our entire Outdoor Ministries program, along with both of our physical sites…up in the air. This is another important reason that we have taken action to work to ensure that this valuable ministry can be continued.
As confusing as this may all sound, we are confident of one thing and that is the fact that there is still a need, a passion and a deep desire for the continuation of an Outdoor Ministries program in Ohio. We are confident that after all the dust settles we will have found a path forward for our Outdoor Ministries that has a vision and a plan and is sustainable for many summers to come. Your prayers and continued support for our camps is greatly appreciated.
The best way you can help….go to camp. Send your kids to camp. Tell your friends about camp. I can promise you won’t give yourself or your child a better gift than the gift of the camping experience.
As we continue to go through this process we will be sure to provide you all with as much information as possible about the progress of this work.
If you have any questions, I am happy to answer them to the best of my ability.
We are grateful for your continued support and interest in the Outdoor Ministries programs in Ohio. Affirm Camp will continue to advocate for funding, staffing and the absolute best in all areas for our outdoor ministries programs. They deserve nothing less.
Sign-up for camp today – http://www.journeythehills.org