$60,000 UMFA grant helps refurbish three United Methodist camps

Camping_Ministries_LogoThe United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas (UMFA) announced in a Feb. 10 news release that is has provided a $60,000 grant to refurbish camping facilities at Shoal Creek Camp, Bear Creek Camp and Wayland Spring Camp through the Outdoor Ministries Committee of the Arkansas Conference.

A 2013 strategic planning report by Run River Enterprises, commissioned by the Arkansas Conference and funded by UMFA, recommended a coordinated effort for outdoor camping ministries that included all five of the Conference camps. Camp Tanako and Mount Eagle Retreat Center, which have year-round staffing, were in good shape. But the three other camps needed work to meet American Camping Association standards.

“Our UMFA Grant Committee is happy to follow up the Run River report with funding that will allow these three camps to meet the needs of Arkansas Conference outdoor ministries,” said Jim Argue, Jr., UMFA president.

Shoal Creek United Methodist Camp near Dardanelle, Bear Creek United Methodist Camp near Marianna and Wayland Spring United Methodist Camp near Imboden all previously served as district camps in the North Arkansas Conference (which included approximately half of the current Arkansas Conference). The Run River report determined steps that needed to be taken to prepare the camps for more frequent and fruitful use.

“Contractors were identified, the work was started, and we expect it to be completed in March,” said the Rev. Mackey Yokem, executive director for mission and ministry with the Arkansas Conference. “The camping ministry targets a critical part of our mission field—children and youth.”

The Rev. Clefton Vaughan, a member of the Outdoor Ministries Committee, said the UMFA grant is essential for outdoor and camping ministries of United Methodists in Arkansas. He explained that each of the local campsite boards could not finance the improvements without the generosity of the Foundation.

“We can’t develop ministries in the smaller camps until they are updated,” he said. “By late spring, all five of our camping sites will be ready.”

“The Conference values the support, insight and generosity of the Foundation,” said Yokem. “Our partnership with UMFA is so rich and deep that Arkansas Methodism is blessed beyond description.”

The United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, one of the largest such foundations in the country, manages $133 million in endowment funds and other charitable assets that benefit local churches and other United Methodist ministries. UMFA is responsible for over 730 funds that support United Methodist ministries.