Pilgrim Pines Camp and Conference Center Once Again Debt Free
By Rudolph van Graan
Thanks to the hard work of the Outdoor Ministries Team and generous donations from churches in the Southern California Nevada Conference, the mortgage on Pilgrim Pines Camp and Conference Center was burned – literally! On Saturday, October 8, 2016 - Pilgrim Pines Fun For All Family Camp and Apple Pie Day - those in attendance gathered around the fire pit for a short celebration, during which we put a copy of the mortgage in the fire. Yeah!
What a great event it was! Never before have I seen that many people at Pilgrim Pines. Although not skilled at estimating crowds, my guess is that there were more than 200 people of all ages and groups from 14 different churches.
Recognition was give the three churches that donated generously to paying off the mortgage: Crossroads UCC, Hollywood Independent and Pilgrim UCC. Our gratitude goes to these churches which, in their time of transitioning and closure, enabled other ministries to thrive. The Conference also recognized the outstanding contributions of four volunteers, presenting certificates of appreciation to Mr. Tom Mason, the Chair of Facilities Team; Mr. James Box, site manager at Pilgrim Pines; Ms. Tracy Halter-Balin, Director of Summer Camp; and Rev. Petra Malleis-Sternberg, Chair of the Outdoor Ministries Team. Then it was time to “burn the mortgage.” As the document had many pages, there were enough for everyone to crumple and throw in the fire!
Pilgrim Pines campers know that “The Mountains Shall Bring Peace To the People.” This exciting development opens the door for a new vision for outdoor ministry in the Conference. Staffed almost entirely by volunteers, this ministry not only offers four weeks of summer camp for four different age groups and special needs campers (“Pinesters”) and a four-day “big feet little feet” program for pre-K campers, but also offers winter camp, a spring camp and family camp in October, all at our beautiful and beloved Pilgrim Pines.
The Youth and Young Adult Ministry in our Conference is evolving to where we offer youth events throughout the year. Many churches face the challenge of limited resources and small youth groups. In a new approach, we will try to cluster churches with more resources together with those with fewer. A group of youth directors and youth pastors gathered in September to develop new strategies and plan a generic youth calendar as far out as winter 2019. We are in the process of hiring a camp registrar who will also facilitate communication among the various role-players in this ministry. I hope this update gives you a birds-eye view of all that is happening in youth ministry in the Conference, developments which, I believe, are steadily moving our programs in the right direction.
Rev. Rudolph van Graan is the Associate Conference Minister: Volunteer Ministries, for the Southern California Nevada Conference of the UCC. He is based in Glendale, CA and is a keen participant in the summer camp ministry at Pilgrim Pines.