From hiring two new key staff members and hosting volunteer work days, to reopening summer camps, launching a new fall Sunday family dinner series, and scheduling retreats and youth events, Camp MoVal was a busy place throughout 2022.
It was a long two years of closure at Camp MoVal due to COVID-19 and staffing changes. During this time, however, the Missouri Mid-South Conference held a series of professionally-led discernment sessions, resulting in recommendations that became a Camp MoVal Redevelopment Plan. The MMSC Board of Directors approved the plan, and Conference delegates voted to adopt it in November 2021.
“While the length of the closure was both unforeseen and unfortunate, it provided Missouri Mid-South with a significant opportunity for many to participate and help discern the future of Camp MoVal,” says Transitional Conference Minister Rev. Mary W. Nelson, “We are so excited to begin to see that future unfolding!”
Working Hard to Reopen
Kevin Zimmer, Camp MoVal Site Manager, and Amanda Schmitt, Camp MoVal Program Director, came on board in May and June 2022, respectively. Volunteer work days quickly followed, with only four weekends (after two-plus years of bare minimum maintenance on camp property) to prepare for the reopening of the 2022 summer program.
Despite the discovery and need to address multiple technology concerns (a well pump, telephones, and internet), more than half of the site improvement projects and leadership priorities slated for Year 1 of the Camp MoVal Redevelopment Plan were completed or progressed enough for satisfactory usability.
“I’m proud of what was accomplished with largely volunteer labor to be camper-ready in less than seven weeks,” says Zimmer.
Bringing Back Campers
A new online registration system through UltraCamp handled sign-ups and payments (smoothly without any tech glitches), allowing 86 campers to participate in the planned six weeks of programming. Zimmer and Schmitt hired and trained summer staff to provide camp programming and maintenance support for families, specific age groups, all-ages, and adults with disabilities.
Low registrations and volunteer capacity did prompt a last-minute cancellation of two sessions with the need to revamp a third, but the four and a half sessions that happened still totaled more than the four originally called for during Year 1 of the Camp MoVal Redevelopment Plan.
While a total of 86 campers was not near the 250-registrant benchmark set by the Camp MoVal Redevelopment Plan, Schmitt says, “It was an impressive feat with such a short sign-up window. Plus, what is even more impressive is how we didn’t have any COVID-19 cases at camp. We’re so pleased that a consistent enforcement of our COVID-19 safety policy and vaccination requirements paid off.”
Forging Ahead for Fall
Schmitt adds she also was very pleased with how the fall retreat calendar shaped up and the “enthusiasm that already existed for those opportunities so soon after camp.” A new Sunday family dinner series launched in September, continuing through Halloween. Another fall work weekend was scheduled for October, and the annual Conference Middle School Event happened in November.
Camp MoVal also returned to scheduling rentals of camp lodging and facilities to accommodate retreats, camps, school groups, environmental education events, reunions, family gatherings, day events, and scouting and other specialty groups.
“Given what we accomplished in an incredibly short period of time, I think the risk Missouri Mid-South took to engage a redevelopment plan for the ministry at Camp MoVal may well turn out to have been the right choice,” says Rev. Nelson. “I hope we can look back in a few years and feel certain that this intense effort was worthwhile. In the meantime, I am enormously proud of the success we’re experiencing.”
Setting Sights on Summer 2023
Rev. Nelson, Schmitt, and Zimmer all agree they are appreciating being able to plan and prepare for summer 2023 at a normal pace.