FAQs about Pictured Rocks Camp

May 15, 2019
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The status of Pictured Rocks United Methodist Camp has been a topic of conversation at the Pre-District Conferences around the state. To help provide clarity on the current status, answers to the following Frequently Asked Questions are provided below.

Q: What is the status of Pictured Rocks United Methodist Camp?
A: The Board of Camps has voted to recommend a sale of Pictured Rocks United Methodist Camp to Camp Courageous. The Board of Camps cannot execute a sale as it is the property of the Iowa Annual Conference. As a result, the recommendation will be voted on at the Annual Conference this year in 2019.

Q: Is a sale of Pictured Rocks a “done deal”?
A: No! The Iowa Annual Conference will be meeting in June as a large body. Delegates to the Annual Conference will vote on a number of issues, including the Board of Camps recommendation of a sale of Camp Pictured Rocks. A recommendation is not a final decision and one that it can be changed at any time. Annual Conference, the large body of United Methodists across the state, holds the final decision. We are promoting the “Kindling Club” as the best option to directly support camping ministries. For all three campsites, the Kindling Club is an essential program for sustainability. See the adjacent article A New Way to Support Camping to learn more about how you can directly support Okoboji, Pictured Rocks and Wesley Woods.

Q: What is Camp Courageous?
A: Camp Courageous is a camp and retreat center that primarily serves people with disabilities. They are located in Monticello, IA directly across the road from Camp Pictured Rocks. They run an excellent program and provide wonderful services for thousands of people across Iowa and beyond. If Pictured Rocks were to be sold, it would be difficult to find a better partner than Camp Courageous. More information on Camp Courageous can be found on their website: https://campcourageous.org/

Q: Why is the Board of Camps making this recommendation?
A: Residential Camping Programs have a budget like any business/organization/ministry. Because residential camp programs don’t collect fees that represent actual expenses, a dedicated donor system is required to balance the overall budget. For many camping programs, including Okoboji, Pictured Rocks and Wesley Woods, donations make up approximately 1/3rdof operating revenue. The Board of Camps does not have the Apportionment Funding necessary to sustain three campsites and has had to make a difficult decision as a result of our current reality.

Q: Where are donations currently coming from?
A: Currently Iowa United Methodist Camps, including Pictured Rocks, receive nearly all financial donations from the Iowa Annual Conference Apportionment System. It is what we like to call a single donor model. In a single donor model, the camping program is fully funded if the single donor can afford to fund it. We are discovering that the Apportionment System, the single donor of the camping program, is unable to financially sustain a three-site model. 

Q: What do you mean that the Iowa Apportionment System is unable to financially sustain a three-site model?
A: Iowa Board of Camps Apportionment Receipts 2015-2020:
2015 - $797,361
2016 - $791,229
2017 - $666,316
2018 - $623,457
2019 - $687,887
2020 (projected) - $616,543

Q: How much of that funding does Pictured Rocks receive?
A: Pictured Rocks has received, for operational expenses, marketing, maintenance, capital projects and campership requests the following apportionment dollars:
2015 - $144,628
2016 - $126,223
2017 - $172,107
2018 - $142,834

Q: How much revenue does Pictured Rocks generate in addition to Apportionment Funds?
A: Pictured Rocks has generated the following revenue via camping events and retreats outside of the apportionment system:
2015 - $164,766
2016 - $151,422
2017 - $123,539
2018 - $130,521

Q: How many campers does Pictured Rocks serve?
A: Pictured Rocks has averaged approximately 200 United Methodist campers per summer going back to 2010.

Q: How does usage at Pictured Rocks compare to the other two Iowa Campsites?
A: Pictured Rocks is the smallest Iowa United Methodist Camp. While effective in its ministry, it does not have the same volume of utilization as the other two sites. As a result, it has required proportionally more apportionment funding in comparison with the other two sites. Staff at Pictured Rocks have worked diligently to identify new campers and retreat guests in Eastern Iowa but have had difficulty growing the program.

Q: If a sale of Pictured Rocks is approved, what are the terms of the sale?
A: Camp Courageous, a camp and retreat center that primarily serves people with disabilities, would purchase the campsite for a total of $1.5 million dollars payable over three years. Proceeds from the sale would stay within the Iowa United Methodist Camping Program. Because of the changing reality of our church with which the Board of Camps is navigating, they have not made a determination on how proceeds from a sale would be used at this time.

Q: Is the Board of Camps recommending a sale of Pictured Rocks to build a building at the Okoboji Campsite?
A: No! The Burnet-Kline Centennial Lodge is a separate project. A seed gift of $500,000 was received to begin the process of building a replacement facility for the Classrooms Dormitories at the Okoboji United Methodist Camp. Funding for the Centennial Lodge will come from outside the apportionment system by utilizing partnerships with individuals and local churches. The status of Pictured Rocks Camp does not impact plans for the Burnet-Kline Centennial Lodge. 

Q: You said that a sale of Pictured Rocks is not a done deal. Can it be saved?
A: Yes! We are recommending the Kindling Club as the quickest, easiest way to raise the sustainable funding necessary to ensure the future of Pictured Rocks, Okoboji and Wesley Woods.

Q: How much funding is necessary to get the Board to change its recommendation?
A: Pictured Rocks has requested $60,000 of operational support (this doesn’t include maintenance, marketing, capital improvements or campership funds). While there is not a solid number, that is a good number to start with.

Q: That’s a lot of money. Is it realistic?
A: Yes! Through the Kindling Club, we are asking supporters to give a monthly gift set up through a credit or debit card. We aren’t asking for a lot from one person, but a little from a lot of people. For example:
100 people giving $50/month = $60,000
200 people giving $25/month = $60,000
500 people giving $10/month = $60,000

Q: Do I need to sign up for the Kindling Club, or can I make a pledge to support Pictured Rocks based on what happens at Annual Conference?
A: The Board of Camps is seeking sustainable funds first. While we are grateful for any pledge received, a member of the Kindling Club is considered sustainable because funds will be received until the member chooses to discontinue membership. 

Q: Can I make a one time gift instead of joining the Kindling Club?
A: Of course! However, we would need that gift every year for it to be considered sustainable. For this reason, the Board of Camps is heavily promoting the Kindling Club as the most sustainable option. 

Q: If I join the Kindling Club in support of Pictured Rocks and Annual Conferences votes to divest, what happens to my gift?
A: You would be contacted by a member of the Iowa Camps team to determine how you’d like to proceed as a partner and friend of camping. 

Q: If I have other questions, who can I talk to?
A: Please contact Bryan Johnson, Director of Camps and Retreats, at 515-974-8913. Alternatively, he can be reached at bryan.johnson@iaumc.org.