A few days ago, I was (regrettably) fortunately dragged into a Facebook discussion by a pastor that I knew from college. We’ve maintained a fairly minimal connection, but he knows I’m in the camp and retreat world. He had originally posted that ministry camps should lower their rates because it’s too expensive for families to send their kids. He messaged me and invited me to join the discussion that was occurring on the post because I would be approaching it from a different angle. I did, and it taught me a lot.
In the (very polite and respectful) back and forth, I realized that most people in the discussion didn’t have camp backgrounds and didn’t understand a point that I sometimes treat as a known fact: camps usually don’t make much money on summer camp. At NaCoMe, we charge just under $400 for a full week of camp. Our costs? Pretty darn close to $400. That’s been a fact for every camp I’ve worked at, but in pointing it out, it seemed that fact was not widely known. The same goes for our retreat programs: we’re not charging more than it costs us to pay the bills.
The obvious secondary fact is that nonprofit ministries, except a rare few, rely on gift income. Our summer camp program has seen incredible growth in registrations this spring, and much of that is a credit to the work we’ve done over the past couple of years. But it’s important to note: that work was funded through donors. Without donors, we wouldn’t have the Giant Swing, new Gaga pits, 9-Square-in-the-Air, Human Foosball, new campsites for Home-in-the-Woods, a new dock at the Swimming Hole, or the newest additions of the Leap of Faith, new Archery racks, and a Slingshot range. And that’s not even all of it: donors have also funded an incredible amount of cabin renovations, Dining Hall & kitchen improvements, a renovation to the Dale Building, and more. These activities, additions, and renovations are not the purpose of camp, but they are crucial in creating experiences for campers and guests. They are the tools that we use to achieve our mission as an organization.
But in addition to creating so many more opportunities for the magic of camp to happen, donors have also allowed NaCoMe to keep camp and retreat costs as reasonable as possible. The discussion on Facebook ended politely, and I think it was beneficial for everyone to understand this key fact: donors and donations fund the dreams. Everything else just pays the bills.
NaCoMe is currently experiencing renewal and growth, and in order to maintain it, we need your donations. We need you to dream with us, and then to help fund those dreams. I invite you to give generously to a ministry that impacts so many lives in building community, connecting with God, and renewing spirits. Give today, and we’ll keep growing tomorrow.
-Ryan “Flash” Moore, Director