Recently I wrote the following post for the Cass Lake Episcopal Camp (CLEC) Facebook page, and was encouraged to share it more broadly.
As most of you know, my life was transformed through my time at camp. I met and married the love of my life at camp. Both of our sons grew up and now work at camps. Some of my longest and dearest friends are folks from camp. Every year I am fortunate to spend time at a number of Episcopal camps. All this is to say I understand both your love and concern for CLEC.
Over the last four years there have been a significant number of conversations both about CLEC and camping ministry in ECMN.
The focus of these conversations has been on program, people, and place. A major part of the findings of these discussions is that there are a number of people who have never had a camping experience (the reality is there are now two, almost three, generations of young people who have not been to CLEC). The good news is that there is significant interest in some sort of camping experience. However, the vast majority are unwilling to drive more than two hours from the Twin Cities.
With this in mind, a subsequent group of folks began to explore alternative sites to host a camping ministry. During this time, it was suggested we build on the very successful Episcopal Youth Music Camp (EYMC). A group of folks began to run with this idea and I am happy to let you know that there is now a plan to offer an additional week of camping at the sight where EYMC takes place. The future forecast is this: Middle School Camp in 2015; adding High School Camp in 2016 and Elementary School Camp in 2017. All of this is great news as we work to rebuild the camping ministry in ECMN.
Now specifically to CLEC. When I first visited CLEC, having heard life changing stories about the place, I was struck by two things. First: the incredible beauty of the place. It was easy to imagine a once thriving camp experience, which as you can imagine warmed my heart. However, the second thing that struck me was the absolute devastation of the buildings. Estimates at this point put the repairs well over a million dollars.
Shortly thereafter, the Trustees entered into a short term lease with the Tribe who wanted to offer youth programs on the property. The hope was that this would be a way to have this incredible place be used, have some work done on the property, and provide time for in-depth, long term strategy. Unfortunately, a year later their plans did not come to fruition, the lease expired and the Trustees became responsible for the property again.
And I am very sad to say vandalism on the property has continued. Buildings can get boarded up, the sheriff can be contacted and yet it is just a very unfortunate reality that vandalism continues.
As the Trustees have continued multiple conversations exploring a variety of options, a proposal emerged within the last year to form a partnership between ECMN, the local community, and outside groups who have a history of doing mission work in the area.
The concept is to have CLEC become a place that would benefit those most in need in the local community, and be a place that could provide accommodations for folks in ECMN and beyond to engage God’s mission in the surrounding areas.
This of course will take a fair bit of fund raising. However, those working on this proposal are confident they can raise the necessary funds.
I apologize for the length of this post, but I am aware that people enter into this conversation at different points and I thought a brief description of the more recent history would be appropriate. I also want to be as transparent as possible.
So what can you do? Pray for the future of camping ministry in ECMN. Let me know if you are interested in our emerging camp programs and I will connect you with others who already are doing so. Let me know if you’re interested in the proposal for the future use of CLEC and I will connect you with those working on that.
Thank you for your love of camp and CLEC!