Camp Sumatanga Action Team Communique - September 23, 2019


ACTION TEAM LISTENING TOUR has been enlightening and affirming. We met with the Bishop, the Cabinet, laity, clergy, past/present campers, past/present camp leaders and representatives from many organizations who call Sumatanga “home." Thank you for traveling to Huntsville, Vestavia Hills, and Alexander City. An additional session is scheduled:

  • September 24 (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. – Rainbow City First UMC 3208 Rainbow Drive, Rainbow City, AL 35906

FINANCIAL SUPPORT: We have raised 44% of the $250,000 goal set by the Action Team for immediate needs. These donations continue to be from individual families, churches and Districts. Prayerfully consider a donation which can be sent directly to Sumatanga with the notation “Action Team.”

The Action Team is planning a fall fundraising campaign to address projected financial needs through first quarter 2020. We will share details as soon as possible.

CAMP EXPENSES: The question “What Does It Cost to Run Camp Sumatanga?” was raised during the Listening Sessions, via email, conversations and postings. Daphne Orr, Interim Executive Director and Mike Byrne, Volunteer Finance Manager, have provided the following information.

To put the recurring costs into perspective, Sumatanga consists of:
672 beds; private water system; private wastewater treatment plant; fifty (50) buildings built between 1950 and 1999 including Pool Camp – 1951; Lodge – 1960’s; Hutto Auditorium – early 1970’s; Eva Walker – 1980’s; Retreat Centers & McKinney-Atkins – 1990’s

Annual Costs (during 2018):
A few of the larger recurring costs:
Electricity - $123,000; Propane (heating and cooking) - $41,000; Property Insurance - $51,000; Liability Insurance - $43,000; Maintenance Agreements - $46,000; General Repairs & Equipment - $48,000

Variable Costs:
Food, linens, incidentals for camp activities or retreat groups and repayment of bank loans.

Be assured, Daphne and Mike are assessing these recurring expenses evaluating the value, competitive pricing and cost-efficient alternatives.

In addition, there are longer-term maintenance items that need to be addressed. As mentioned during the Listening Sessions, air conditioning units require maintenance or replacement – cost is unknown. Now the repairs to the Water Tank are mandated. The initial estimated cost of the Water Tank repair is $130,000-$150,000.

REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE: We appreciate all the offers to “pitch-in” and work on the Sumatanga grounds. For plumbing, electrical, heating, air conditioning, water tank, etc., we are required to contract with certified professionals. For other general work, we continue to rely heavily on lay volunteer labor. As recently as February 20, 2019, an email was sent to the Sumatanga Alumni Group, UMWs, Emmaus’ groups and Sumatanga Trustees with a list of volunteer projects, i.e. painting, carpentry, power washing, pruning, weeding, raking. Thank you to those who responded in the spring as we prepared for summer camping. Now, it’s time to rally the teams again.

VOLUNTEERS FOR GROUNDS MAINTENANCE: Daphne Orr is prioritizing the lay projects for specific areas in anticipation of scheduled camp/retreat groups as well as summer camp 2020. We are so fortunate to have the experience of Rev J. Mark “Bruno” Hughes appointed as the Sumatanga Volunteer Coordinator. Please communicate your personal or team ‘specialty’ and date/time availability directly with Bruno and Daphne. (A quick thank you to the youth of Sylacauga First UMC who cleaned the flowerbeds around the McKinney-Atkins office building on September 15!)

Again, we appreciate those who attended the Listening Sessions and look forward to talking with those who will attend the next one. Also, thank you to those who have emailed and posted comments and questions. Please continue to follow our work through social media posts and these Communiques posted to the Camp and Conference websites. Finally, contact me or Daphne Orr directly if you have specific questions.

Andy Wolfe, Convener

CAMP SUMATANGA ACTION TEAM: Assess the mission of the Camp and address pertinent governance issues, evaluate current leadership and staffing model, and examine the Camp’s relationship to the North Alabama Conference and Conference Trustees with maximum authority to act in the Camp’s best interest.
Members: Rev. Dr. Andy Wolfe, Convener, ex-officio; Neeysa Biddle, Sandy Wright Brown, Rev. Dr. Bill Brunson, Mike Byrne, Tiphanie Gatgens, Terry McElheny, Harlan Prater, Allan Robertson, ex-officio; Daphne Orr, Interim Executive Director and camp consultant; Rev. Mark Johnston, previously Executive Director, Camp McDowell.

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