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2010 Annual Gathering Report of the Pilgrim Pines Executive Director

by Rev. June Boutwell

I will still celebrate because the LORD God saves me. The LORD gives me strength. God makes my feet as sure as those of a deer and helps me stand on the mountains. Habakkuk 3:18-19

It has been 14 months since the appointment of the acting executive director for Pilgrim Pines Camp. Much has happened in that short time. June Boutwell began serving half-time as acting executive director on April 1, 2009. In June, 2009 the Pilgrim Pines Board of Directors affirmed Rev. Boutwell as the called executive director. She began full-time service on January 1, 2010. Eastern Association will plan for an installation service in fall 2010.

     The financial position of the camp remains of concern. The sale of the Johnny’s Tree Farm property to The Wildlands Conservancy in April 2009 allowed Pilgrim Pines to maintain a solvent basis for 2009 and to address critical equipment and facilities needs. The summer of 2009 was challenging from a facilities and maintenance perspective with over $40,000 of unanticipated emergency maintenance expenses mostly centering on septic systems. The blessing of the sale proceeds and the fact that The Wildlands Conservancy allows us to continue our traditional summer camp use of the Johnny’s parcel created a win/win situation for all concerned.

The Board of Directors continues to serve faithfully and to work with staff to address administrative and operational needs. Pilgrim Pines has downsized staff and placed additional key staff on a salary basis. This help control personnel costs while allowing us to reduce the minimum group size to increase Bookings. Fees were increased by 5% for 2010. One of the significant cost savings was the conversion of dining hall services to a modified cafeteria style. By serving each individual guest and camper and making planned use of leftover food, we have significantly reduced our food cost and the amount of food waste we put into the trash. It has also reduced our labor expense. The costs associated with the conversion were more than offset by the cost savings. We were able to reduce our property and liability expense by an audit of guests covered by their own liability certificates. In March, 2010 we renegotiated our interest rate on the loan held by the Cornerstone Fund resulting in a lower monthly payment.

The camp continues to receive excellent reviews from guests and many new “word-of-mouth” bookings. However, the economy has had its effect on returning and potential guest groups. Some of our long-time annual groups have not been able to book this year due to financial considerations and others have significantly reduced their numbers. But our level of inquiries has remained steady and we are seeing some school and college groups who were previous guests once again booking events at the camp. We continue to try to market to past guests and to re-establish relationships with schools, colleges and universities and other community service organizations. We are glad to accept referrals from UCC members for other groups with which they are associated. We hope in 2011 to begin to aggressively market our challenge course with the climbing wall and high and low ropes courses as a day program for educational and corporate groups.

In doing an insurance liability audit, we were able to get a clearer picture of who comes to Pilgrim Pines. We served a total of 7,512 individuals in 2009 through Pilgrim Pines events (including summer camp), UCC churches, and outside user groups. Pilgrim Pines sponsored events (Summer Camp, Young Adult Camp, Confirmation Camp, Women’s Spirituality Retreat, Family Camp, Apple Pie Day) comprised only 14% of our total attendance and 33% of total revenue.

Events by UCC churches comprised 9% of total attendance and 7% of total revenue. The remaining 77% of attendance and 60% of revenue came from outside user groups. Attendance at Pilgrim Pines sponsored events continues to decline a little bit each year resulting in less support from our UCC members. The good news is that we are a light on the hill to many other faith communities and community service organizations, living out our commitment to extravagant welcome and hospitality. We encourage you to look at the December 2009 newsletter for a listing of the diversity of groups served in 2009. It may be surprising and revealing.

Summer camp 2010 looks like it will be a good season. As of May 25 we had 541 of the 866 spaces reserved with several weekly programs already full. Our total registration for 2009 was 667 so we are ahead of our reservations compared to this time last year. Our summer camp population reflects similar trends to general reservations with one-third coming from UCC or no affiliation listed, one-third special needs campers in our Pinester, Pine Cones and Seedlings programs, and one-third from community and county agencies. We continue to give preference to UCC campers by opening registration earlier for UCC members and offering the h Conference Youth Ministry Camp (CYMC) sponsored by the Southern California Nevada Conference Youth Round Table.

We are now publishing a quarterly newsletter after a two year hiatus. The gentle appeal for support in the winter newsletter in December 2009 resulted in $3,000 of support for general operations and campership funds. The need for campership funds is critical. For many years that program was funded in part by a generous grant from the LA Times Foundation. We did not receive the grant in 2009 and were not invited to apply in 2010. In 2009 we used reserves in

the campership fund as well as donations to award just over $22,000 in camperships. These camperships were not as generous as in years past funding only part of the balance of fees rather than the full balance. In 2010 we do not have any reserves and the small endowment funds have earned very little in this current investment climate. Many individuals and churches have made contributions but we anticipate we will have difficulty finding enough funds to meet the requests for 2010.

We have appreciated the generous support received in 2009 and 2010. The Pilgrim Pines Board of Directors is working to give 100% member support. The Conference Board of Directors held a Pilgrim Pines Shower at a recent meeting. And several churches and individuals have responded to the “wish list” in the newsletter as well as making campership and general contributions. We could not provide camp experiences without our cadre of honored volunteers and our dedicated and hard working staff. We invite you to visit www.pilgrimpinescamp.org to see upcoming events and read the latest newsletter. We encourage you to participate in upcoming programs including Family Camp, Grandparents Camp (new!), and Apple Pie Day. And don’t forget to suggest Pilgrim Pines as a location for youth groups, retreats, leadership development, or any organizations looking for meeting space.

 

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