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Christian camp in Maine running short of funds for winter


Gene Britton, left with white cap, joins other men who study and reflect on God’s word around the fireplace in the main lodge of Gander Brook Christian Camp in 2008. (Photo by Bobby Ross Jr.)

Gander Brook Christian Camp in Raymond, Maine, desperately needs donations to make it through the winter.
That’s the word from Don Keiser, a Gander Brook board member who edits the camp’s newsletter.
Keiser, minister of the Southern Aroostook Church of Christ in northern Maine, told me in an e-mail:

Basically, we operate on a shoestring most of the time.  Donations come in to us in December and January as a result of tax season, and then again sporadically throughout the rest of the year. Camper fees come in during the May-August timeframe.  Beyond that, there are only minimal fees we charge for congregational retreats and proceeds from a few fund-raisers from time to time.
The immediate and pressing financial problem we are facing at this time is due to a combination of things, occurring over the course of the past 12-15 months, which together have eliminated the small reserve we usually have at this time of the year.  These include higher than usual building and infrastructure repair costs, lower donations earlier this year, a (slightly) smaller number of campers perhaps due to the economic conditions, and many recent donations being earmarked specifically for such things as making mandatory repairs to the camp’s water system this coming spring.  In some cases, costs such as food have simply gone up.  Another significant reason for funding shortfalls relates to our policy of holding down camper fees to the greatest extent possible, relying on donations to make up the difference between these fees and the actual cost per camper.  We want the greatest number of young people to be able to attend the camp at the least hardship for the parents.  Raising fees too high would only reduce the number of children attending camp and thus reduce how many we can nurture in a Christian environment.
At present, we need a minimum of $6,000.00 to meet on-going expenses through the winter months (security system, electrical, etc), the retirement of credit card debt for materials purchased from Lowes, our annual counselor recruiting trip to our Christian colleges shortly after the first of the year, and some minor repairs that should be accomplished over the winter.
Going forward, we have a number of projects and repairs that need our attention this spring and prior to the start of the camping season.  Among these is the pressing need to repair and upgrade the water system.  This past summer we had to operate without potable water due to ground water infiltration issues.  Thus, we used bottled water for drinking.  Money has been donated by individuals and congregations specifically for the minimum required repairs.  However, along with these repairs, certain critical improvements should be made to eliminate future problems with water pressure and capacity and to enable the camp to be used year around.  (Currently, the water system is partially drained to prevent freeze damage.)  Doing the necessary repairs and the needed upgrade work concurrently would by far be the most efficient use of funds and best position the camp going forward.

A sign greets campers at the gate of Gander Brook Christian Camp in Raymond, Maine. (Photo by Bobby Ross Jr.)

Bobby, as you know from having visited our area and attended our Men’s Retreat in the past, the congregations in NE are generally very small and many do not have preachers.  Congregational resources are extremely limited.  New England does not have any large congregations that are in a position to make major donations to the camp.  Thus we rely on individuals to a larger degree than perhaps other camps located in parts of the country where there are numerous large congregations.  This reliance may get us through normal years when emergency repairs are minimal, but can not suffice when we have serious repair and facility upgrade expenses.  (We have for too long postponed needed maintenance in order to use limited available funds for regular operating costs.)
Your assistance and that of others who want to strengthen the church in New England will be greatly appreciated by the Board and by all who benefit from the Camp.

As Keiser mentioned in his e-mail, I visited Gander Brook in 2008 and wrote a feature for The Christian Chronicle on its role as a place of refuge and fellowship for Christians in New England.
Donations can be sent to Gander Brook Christian Camp, P.O. Box 1423, Littleton, MA 01460. The website is at ganderbrook.org.
“We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and we’d be more than happy to provide tax acknowledgement for donations,” said Bill Jenczyk, Gander Brook’s treasurer.

  • Feedback
    I grew up attending this camp. It is a great place and a true mission field. As it was said, new England has no large churches to help but this camp is the cornerstone to most of the teens and churches of new England. Please think about supporting this place. They need so much help and the rewards would be endless.
    Adam brock
    November, 12 2010

    My son had the opportunity to serve as a counselor this past summer. It was a life-changing experience for him. The work at Ganderbrook is a blessing for the campers that participate but also for the college students that have the opportunity to serve others. Ganderbrook is in my prayers.
    Shelley Parnell
    November, 18 2010

    I lived in Rhode Island in the early 90’s and started attending the ladies’ retreat in September. I have since moved back to Nashville but still attend every year. In fact, I have friends from Nashville who go with me every year. We so enjoy seeing the same women year after year who we only see at the retreat. Gander Brook is just what others have said – a serene place in the woods of Maine where one can draw closer to God. Please consider supporting this wonderful place.
    Mary Beth
    November, 18 2010

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