MILFORD – Modernizing facilities, growing the number of campers and more fully using facilities year-round are all part of the “Planting The Future” capital campaign launched by the administration and the Camp Mack board at the annual dinner Friday night.





Organizers said the 160 people who attended the event were a larger number of attendees than have attended in the past to hear about the $1.1 million capital campaign.

Camp Mack Executive Director Gene Hollenberg acknowledged past campaigns didn’t meet goals and didn’t allow them to do the things they dreamed about. As a past contributor himself, he said he was disappointed.

“We wanted a way to make certain we don’t make that mistake again and be able to achieve dreams we had and the goals God set before us,” Hollenberg said.

They brought in consultants from Design Group International that assisted them through a strategic plan process, starting with determining the vision of Camp Mack.

Jim Shively, Indiana Camp board chairman, shared with attendees the five areas of the strategic plan:

• Maintain the historic ties with the Church of the Brethren.

• Ensure the fiscal health of the camp by expanding year-round use.

• Ensure the facilities support the mission of Camp Mack.

• Strengthen the transformative impact of camp with holy hospitality and by maximizing programs.

• Promote the mission and strengthen donor and community relationship.

Harriet Hamer, a member of the capital campaign committee, said they started meeting in summer 2018, concentrating on two areas of the strategic plan — ensuring the facilities support the mission of Camp Mack and promoting the mission and strengthening donors. As for donors, she said Design Group International helped them to discern who they wanted to contact.

Concerning facilities, Hamer said, “What we have needs to meet the needs. It’s important to keep the charm but it also has to be accessible, modernized and the buildings need to be flexible.”

Initiatives

Hollenberg shared with attendees they brought Todd Eastis onto the staff in May as development/communication specialist and he’s been working on the fundraising campaign.

Hollenberg also expanded on some of the strategic plan points, saying one way they want to maintain the 93-year history with the Church of the Brethren, which built the camp, is by reaching out to the churches and congregations in the district and asking how they can help them.

They’ve acknowledged financial issues of the past and through the strategic plan applied cost controls, careful budgeting and accountability.

He said any changes to facilities need to make them comfortable, easy to maintain, multi-purpose and financially sustainable.  They would like to increase programming by adding young adult programs and more family events and promote the mission by more community awareness, participating in surrounding community events and implement a clear model for holy hospitality.

The first initiative was titled “Choosing the Seed” – providing a strong base for expanded programming. They determined they need to add a dedicated staff member to develop and coordinate year-round outdoor education programs who will also work with local schools. Applications are being accepted.

They also realized that sharing the mission and opportunities at Camp Mack with a wider audience will require greater focus from management staff so they recently hired office assistants to help with the day-to-day clerical duties so current staff can focus more on marketing. The cost for this first initiative was $300,000 and that money has already been raised and most of the initiative has been accomplished.

The second initiative is called “Preparing the Soil” – modernizing current facilities to meet the needs of the future. They wanted to have adult spaces with a different level of comfort and privacy. They’ve renovated Ulrich House and reconfigured the rooms, but that took away space for summer staff so they want to build a bunkhouse for summer staff that could also be used year-round.

Some stone work and roof improvements are being done to Schultz Chapel and insulation for Sarah Major. Improvements to the auditorium and restrooms are in the works.

Cost for this second initiative is $800,000, some of which has been raised.

The third initiative is called “Growing the Promise,” and Hollenberg said they’re not currently raising money for this phase but it would include replacing or adding new buildings to meet lodging and program needs, an outdoor education classroom or laboratory, year-round cabins with attached restrooms and a lodge that serves as a multi-cabin building in the summer. He said they are just collecting data at this point.

Impact of the Camp

Tim Gray, director of the Episcopal Camp of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana and also a member of the capital campaign committee, spoke about his church’s relationship with the camp. He said the Episcopal camp has been at Camp Mack for 20 years.

In addition to their week-long summer camp, the New Happenings Camp for children of incarcerated parents and adult retreats take place at Camp Mack.

Growth By The Numbers

Eastis gave some statistics to the guests, telling them that they had 500 campers last year – a recent record – and the goal is to get to 1,000 campers by 2021.

He said since 2016 they’ve had a 49-percent increase in samplers – the youngest aged campers – and a 17 percent increase in specialty camps like Creative Arts and Culinary Camp. Eastis said the reason the growth is not more is because they are full. He said Culinary Camp for 2019 filled up in 36 hours. Splash Camp is filled up and Archery Camp would likely be filled soon.

Eastis said they had a huge increase in congregation support – $59,000. This past year’s Camp Mack Festival was one of the “most successful ever” despite afternoon rains. He said they ended last year with an operating surplus of $55,000. Eastis shared that they received a large bequest and took $80,000 of it and placed it in an endowment fund with Elkhart County Community Foundation with a match from them of $20,000. That $100,000 will be used for helping low-income campers have a camping experience.

Hollenberg and Eastis said they want to increase building usage to the industry standard of 60 percent. In 2017 it was at 30 percent and last year it was 38 percent.

Eastis announced that they’ve raised $542,671.39 of the $800,000 needed, including camp board pledge of $50,000, capital campaign committee pledge of $35,000 and Camp Mack staff pledge of $15,000 through payroll deductions. He shared that over the weekend they received a large commitment of $75,000 with an additional extra $25,000 to match any donations received at the annual dinner. Eastis said they are already further ahead than past capital campaigns. The goal is to reach the balance of the money needed by 2021.