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Shepherd's Spring Adventure Program Capital Campaign

Zip Lines, Tree House, Climbing Tower, Challenge Course, & Giant Swing

The Project

Shepherd’s Spring's Board of Directors has voted unanimously to conduct a capital campaign that will seek to raise the funding necessary to construct multiple adventure activities on the camp’s 220+ acre property, which will serve to enhance the overall experience of every guest and facilitate successful accomplishment of measurable outcomes as campers fulfill personal “stretch” goals through adventure programming. This will include the addition of dual zip lines with a tower and climbing walls, a low ropes challenge course, giant swing, and tree house. The project will include design, construction and certification of the stations according to national safety standards.

The Challenge

The camp has historically been used by member churches of the Mid-Atlantic District of the Church of the Brethren with limited, to no, outreach done beyond that demographic. With youth involvement in the denomination and district declining in recent years the number attending camp has also decreased from a high of 420 the first two years of operation (1991-1992) to a low of 74 for the entire summer in 2019. Between the years 1993 and 2006 an average of 350 campers each year was maintained. However, by 2007 that number began a steady decline. With decreasing numbers of campers revenues declined making it difficult to attain operational budget projections and maintain payroll. Thus it has been untenable to add new activities to the camp program due to costs.

 

Woman on Zip Line

The Reality

Image by Rachel
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The organization exists to fulfill its’ mission. To fulfill this mission all available resources should be responsibly utilized to the fullest practical extent possible for maximum effectiveness and efficiency. Acquiring adequate funding to carry out programming is not the purpose of the organization, but is necessary to fulfill the mission properly. Therefore, the responsible use of funds and the continued acquisition of appropriate funding is necessary for the carrying out of the mission. Funding that specifically enhances each camper’s experience and creates a feeling of meaningful sense of belonging within a supportive community is vital.

 

Also of note is the reality that Camp Joy El in nearby Greencastle, Pennsylvania consistently maintains camper levels at 330 per week for seven weeks of summer (2310 for the summer) with multiple other youth on a waiting list. This indicates that youth in the area are still interested in attending camp. There is a viable market for youth attending camp in this area.

 

Surveys conducted by Shepherd’s Spring staff consistently indicate campers attending feel there needs to be more activities for them to do throughout the week while they are in camp. They were specifically requesting adventure type activities and programming such as: zip line, ropes course, archery range, climbing walls, etc.

The Goals

The goal is to expand the demographics of youth using the camp and to create for every camper coming to Shepherd’s Spring the best week of their life, every time, thus reversing the multi-year trend of decreasing numbers and move to once again seeing the number of campers attending the camp return to, and maintain at, the maximum level possible by creating an appealing milieu and programming that draws campers, thus utilizing the resources available, and making them available to the local community. It is our hope to have the money raised and elements built prior to the beginning of the 2022 camp season.

The Investment

43' Climbing Tower (16'x12') with Tandem zip lines off one side and single zip line off the other side with landing decks.

 

Three 30' climbing walls with belay systems

 

One 43' Giant Swing

 

Equipment for use: 30 helmets, 4 climbing and repel ropes, 60 triple lock steel carabiners, 10 full body harnesses (small), 20 full body harnesses (universal), 4 tandem speed pulleys

 

12 module low level challenge course

 

One tree house with deck

 

Engineering and design drawings

 

Construction, Inspection, Certification of structures

 

Training and Certification of staff

  TOTAL GOAL: $300,000  

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Envisioned Tree House

The Why

  • Listen to the customer: Adventure programming is what the campers themselves repeatedly identified as being needed in the overall camp experience when asked.

  • Kid magnets: Adventure programming is so radically outside of the normal experiences of campers that anticipation of such experiences acts as a magnet so as to draw them to camp initially. Following the camp and adventure experiences significant memories will have been formed with accompanying emotions, which serve as additional magnets to bring them (and their friends) back seeking “the best week of their lives”.

  • Not simply activities: Because participation in adventure activities calls for campers to respond physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually the addition of such activities is referred to as an entire “program” that monitors safety and accountability. As such participants are team members facing challenges together and then debriefing afterwards. It is in the debrief sessions that kids often realize insights into the accomplishments they have experienced thus strengthening the overall team and camp.

  • Personal goals and growth within the context of community: In the context of a group (community) experience campers are able to set personal goals that stretch them and encourage growth.

  • Healthy connections: Adventures conducted in the context of safety and support and which tend to present the participants with the unfamiliar, thus throwing them “off balance” and forcing them to turn to their camp staff for immediate support tend to expedite and reinforce the process of forming meaningful and healthy connections between youth and staff. Friendships are initiated during adventures, and youth more readily communicate with staff at deeper levels afterwards.

  • Meaningful opportunities for involvement and membership: The team challenges built into adventure programing require a variety of skills and thinking styles, allowing diverse students to become invaluable members and/or leaders of the team, roles they may not have previously experienced.

  • Challenging and skill-building activities: Adventure-based learning activities challenge youth to think in new ways, to communicate actively and to quickly learn to work with people they would not typically get to know, subsequently producing long lasting outcomes not typically expected.

The Impact

Summer camp 2021 had a 100% increase in attendance over 2019 reversing the 12-year decline. This was the result of opening the camp up to children and youth in downtown Hagerstown who would otherwise not be able to attend camp. In 2020 camp was cancelled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. It is projected that summer camp 2022 will have at least a 50% increase in campers over 2021 or 225 youth. This will be the direct result of Global Citizen program changes and the addition of new adventure activities to the property as well as outreach to the local community.

In short, adventure-based programming clearly presents an excellent opportunity for individuals to have positive experiences that support strong youth development outcomes. Researchers of adventure-based programs have identified over 40 different positive outcomes categorized into leadership, self-concept and self-control, academics, intra-personal, interpersonal and adventure. These results are in alignment with the overall goals of Shepherd’s Spring and the Global Citizen Camp initiative in particular. Participants clearly see and experience the results of their actions both individually and as a group. Because adventure-based learning activities set clear, achievable goals, participants experience a sense of accomplishment when they are successful.

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Rope Course in Summer Camp
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We need YOU!

Here's what you can do to help our vision become a reality:

  1.   Support us financially by filling out a pledge card, make an online donation, or mail us a check or cash. Be sure to mark your donation for the "Capital Campaign" fund. We welcome any size donation, big or small. YOU have a part in this and we can't do it without you.

  2. Help us spread the word to your friends, family, churches, coworkers, etc. who may be interested in giving.

  3. Pray that God's power and love would be displayed and He would be glorified above all else.

  4. Celebrate with us as we make progress reaching our goal.

  5. Contact us if you have any questions or would like to set up a meeting with our Executive Director, Bruce, to learn more.