The Illinois Great Rivers Conference Camping and Retreat Ministries is living into a new paradigm for mission, programming, and site development.
Among the components of the new paradigm are reimagined site configurations and facility upgrades to meet the needs of new generations. Both camps have plans for new lodges or cabins and other facilities, for improvements to existing facilities, and for condensing the core areas of the campuses to facilitate easier navigation and meet program needs.
A second component of the makeover is a new missional focus. Camping and retreat ministries will be more intentional in reaching out as a resource to local churches, interpreting the essential role retreats play in spiritual formation and providing resources such as grants and specialized leadership to help local churches achieve their retreat goals. To this end both camps have been staffed with a Minister of Mission Expansion (MME) whose primary assignment is to connect with local churches and non-profits and give oversight to the site's alignment with the mission.
The site makeovers in the IGRC's camping and retreat ministry have been made possible largely because of the 2015 Annual Conferences decision, difficult as it was, to sell three of the five conference camps in order to reallocate resources-- financial, as well as staff time and energy-- to the two remaining camps which show the best strength and potential.
In his report to the Annual Conference in June 2016, Chairperson of the Commission on Camping and Retreat Ministries, Rev. Larry Gilbert, reminded the members that the decision to sell three of the IGRC's five camps made it possible for the camping ministry to set a new course: "The CCRM has been given the task not just of developing our two remaining sites, but envisioning a new camping program which connects more closely with the needs of individual families and local churches. Camping is not an end in and of itself in that we can never be content to do a camping ministry just to support camping, but our camping ministry must relate directly to and produce the fruits of our mission—to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. If we cannot produce tangible and measurable fruit to this end, then we must question the investment of resources to support this ministry."
To read more about the IGRC's commitment to providing resources and encouragement to local churches, please read about the grant program and other local church resources at East Bay Camp
and at Little Grassy Camp
Learn more about East Bay's site redesign a East Bay Master Plan
and Little Grassy's at Little Grassy Master Plan