Together! For Kids and Camps Enters Public Phase

Throughout the years there have been thousands upon thousands of people who have experienced the love of Jesus Christ at the Warren W. Willis Camp, and the Bishop's Capital Campaign Commission wants to ensure that future generations will also have that opportunity at an improved facility.

The Rev. Sue Haupert-Johnson rolled out the public phase of the Together! For Kids and Camps in a report to the Florida Annual Conference on June 2.
The Rev. Sue  Haupert-Johnson discusses the Bishops' Capital Campaign at the 2011 Florida Annual Conference June 2 in Tampa. (Photo by Cindy Skop)
The Together! campaign is partnering with Conference Camps and Retreats Ministries to upgrade facilities and opportunities at all conference camp sites. Prior to Annual Conference the campaign had been in a quiet fundraising phase. Proceeds from the campaign will first be used to expand and renovate Barnett Lodge.
Haupert-Johnson, standing in for the Rev. Bill Barnes, co-chair of the Bishop's Capital Campaign Commission who couldn't be present, said, “I am really delighted to represent the Bishop's Capital Campaign Commission. I know Bill would love to be here because he sees as the one of the great legacies of the annual conference, as does Bishop Whitaker, as does members of the commission.”
Barnett Lodge is well-known for its “Rocking Porch,” where people sit in rocking chairs and visit. In a gesture of thanks to Whitaker for initiating the campaign, members of the commission presented him with a rocking chair.
Bishop Timothy Whitaker tries out the rocking chair presented to him in appreciation for the Bishop's Capital Campaign. (Photo by Cindy Skop)
Haupert-Johnson emphasized that this capital campaign differs from others in the past “because local churches will not be apportioned.”
She said the campaign will be conducted through a new fundraising model that is built around asking and encouraging individuals throughout the annual conference to buy into the concept that “we can do more together in some areas than we can apart.” She said individuals are committed to the on-going work of the campaign.
Already $8.5 million has been raised, more than any other campaign to date.
Haupert-Johnson said there has been an anonymous $2 million pledge for the expansion and renovation of Barnett Lodge, as well as a $2 million gift from Dan and Trish Bell that will fund a new cottage and vocational training program at the Florida United Methodist Children's Home.
While raising up the impressive dollar amounts, Haupert-Johnson also was quick to note the struggling economy and mentioned that the Together! campaign had been delayed for a couple of years. However, the commission decided to go ahead and present it to the public with emphasis being placed on Barnett Lodge, the central focus of the Warren W. Willis Camp.
Barnett Lodge's current 2,373 square feet will be renovated and an additional 7,000 square feet will be added with Together! funds. The two dining areas, as well as the kitchen, will be expanded and modernized. Architectural plans also call for adding meeting rooms that have the possibility of doubling as meeting rooms.
The Rev. Sue Haupert-Johnson
Haupert-Johnson had even more exciting news to share. There will be $1 million in matching dollars for money raised as part of the campaign. A large portion of the funds, $750,000, comes from the sale of Lake Asbury Retreat Center, as well as $250,000 from the Bells.
Haupert-Johnson said $1 of every $10 raised will be set aside as an endowment for scholarships for children to attend camp. She said the Bells have donated $400,000 to create a scholarship fund for children who otherwise could not afford camp. If an additional $100,000 is raised, the total could fund 40 children attending camp in perpetuity, Haupert-Johnson said.
The Rev. Alex Shanks, chair of board of Camps and Retreats Ministries, said the Conference has a role and responsibility to keep the legacy of the camp experience moving forward so that others may experience God's power at the Warren W. Willis Camp. He said a total of 21,000 people came to the camp in 2010, 8,000 of them children and youth, with a total of 10,000 United Methodists visiting the facility.
The Rev. Alex Shanks
The Rev. David McEntire, chair of the conference board of trustees, said 75 percent of the cost of the expansion and renovation has been raised, with the remaining 25 percent left to the members of the Annual Conference to contribute. He anticipates a ground-breaking on the expansion and renovation within the next three months.
Haupert-Johnson said in addition to the members of the annual conference being asked to give, camper families, who may not be members of the local church, will be asked to contribute. She said churches will have campaign materials such as bulletin inserts, brochures, pledge cards and other materials available to them. Individuals involved with the campaign will also be available to speak to local churches.
"I think we should all be excited about a campaign that is already underway," Haupert-Johnson said. "Let's give it what it needs to go to the next level to finish it off and give the bishop a place to put that rocking chair."

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