Have you heard? Church camps are closing because of declining use, according to a recent AP story and industry statistics.
Not so in Holston Conference. This year's summer camp attendance was down only slightly -- 3,050 compared to 3,200 in 2008, according to Development Officer Charles Maynard. At the same time, Holston's four camps are re-energizing with birthday celebrations and capital fundraising campaigns that reveal church members' steadfast commitment to camp ministry.
"The numbers are still strong, and what's happening at camp is still strong," said the Rev. Maynard. "Not only are people showing up, but what we're able to do when people show up is still important."
While other church camps decline, Holston camps are set apart for two reasons, according to the Rev. Randy Pasqua, executive director of Holston Conference Camp and Retreat Ministries.
"We do receive strong support from the conference, financially, and that is making a difference in what we're able to do," Pasqua said. "But I also feel like we stay true to our mission, and that is, showing the love of Christ and the glory of God's creation. We are doing that, and so camp is fun and significant."
While the four camp budgets are in the black, ongoing capital fundraising campaigns are ensuring that the camp facililities continue to improve. The next four editions of The Call2 will report each camp's progress. Here's the first.
AS FUNDS ARE RAISED, Buffalo Mountain Camp and Retreat Center is in the beginning stages of its development plan. Progress on the new pool is proceeding with the architect and bids. Most of the funds for the new pool have been received from Munsey UMC in Johnson City. Limestone Cove UMC has given $28,500 in memory of Christopher King for the Climbing Tower. Cherokee UMC has committed to work on raising more funds for the Climbing Tower. Paul Martin, a member at Rogersville UMC, is donating plants and his expertise as a landscaper to make the grounds look good.
A greenway trail alongside Ramsey Creek was completed this summer to allow children to walk with the sound of the creek as they go from one end of camp to the other. Wesley Memorial UMC of Johnson City has committed to work on a pavilion. Other churches in both districts have given funds and are attempting to raise more for this campaign. 2009 marks Buffalo Mountain Camp’s Sixtieth Anniversary. Countless lives have been influenced over the years through the ministry of the camp.
For more information about Holston Conference camps, contact Charles Maynard.