Dec 20, 2011

A Strange, Wonderful, Challenging Year

 A Strange, Wonderful, Challenging Year

2011 has been a pretty amazing year that brought many challenges. First, let me share with you some of our struggles. Going into 2011 we understood the economy would have a great effect on our ministry, so we went very conservative in some of our planning. Over the last several years we have been working to replace aging cabins; however we knew it would be a struggle to build two new ones in this present economy. So, the plan was to upgrade the Village cabins, and if the retreat revenue allowed us, to build one cabin in the fall.

The year took a quick downward turn as a number of unplanned jobs arose that had to be done. The Shaver Dining Hall’s concrete floor had a significant drop through the winter, the pump house on Vesper Hill had significant water damage, there were some issues with the wooden floor under Loucon’s walk in refrigerator and freezer, there were some issues with the efficiency of our walk in units, and the list goes on and on. When all was said and done about $30,000 had to be spent to get our house in order.

All of these jobs had to be tackled before our hectic summer season began, and the commitment to upgrading the Village was pretty important as Loucon had already announced that the summer of 2011 would be Loucon’s first summer in history to provide air conditioning for all of our campers. This is all in addition to our normal, everyday care of the facility.

Later that spring we decided that Robb Lodge needed to be condemned and torn down. This is a significant blow because it is an important meeting area and kitchen facility for the Robb cabin area. It has put a crunch on our available meeting spaces for retreat groups, and it presented a few challenges during summer camp. We are in the process of raising funds to construct a new lodge.

An ongoing issue is the need to replace the flooring in Turner Lodge. This project is going to cost between $12,000-$16,000. Sometimes it seems the fun never ends! All of this is in addition to the hundreds of upgrades Loucon would like to tackle in order to provide an even greater camp & retreat experience for our guests.

So, we started the year with quite a few blows. Then God began to reveal himself in some pretty amazing ways! First David Wells from Boling Chapel organized the Owensboro district to help fund the Village project. He also provided the volunteers to do the job. Next, Christ Church UMC in Bowling Green approached us about funding and constructing a cabin for the Robb area. Then Greenville UMC approached us about doing the exact same thing. Later, Brandenburg UMC approached us about building two cabins in the Robb area. So, in a year where Loucon hoped to build one cabin, four cabins have been funded and built by three very generous churches! And to top that off the Village Cabins have been winterized! Escue Lumber donated some lumber towards a future cabin and provided the necessary lumber to reconstruct the floor under the walk in coolers. About $62,000 worth of improvements have been made to the ministry due to some very generous individuals and churches!


Just one more reason to recognize how God provides! It doesn’t end there. So far we’ve just been talking about the physical structure that is Loucon. Next I want to talk about the ministry itself. As you can probably guess the more people who come to Loucon the better off financially the ministry will be, and over the last few years the size of our retreat groups has shrunk. Two years ago groups that were bringing sixty plus retreat guests dropped to about thirty or less. Most of our groups dropped to about half of their normal size, and a few groups lost their funding and had to cancel out on their retreat experience. At the same time the economy was hitting the parents of our campers and our summer camper attendance has declined about 20% combined over the last four summers. In the midst of this type of economy the money we provide for scholarships has risen from $21,000 to $28,000 per summer.

One might think that all of this might mean the experience at Loucon had diminished; however the strange thing is that this summer camp season, this New Song Christian Music Festival, and this retreat season has really been one of the most significant years of ministry I can recall in my twenty-one years involved at Loucon. This summer’s focus was on the Holy Spirit, and I just want you to know that the Spirit was moving in full force. So many campers made commitments to Christ, talked about a potential call into the ministry, and just made decisions about deepening their faith in God. Most of my deans talked about this being the best summer they have ever experienced at Loucon, and most of them talked about how this was possibly the best staff they had ever worked with. God is always present at camp...this summer that was evident to everyone involved! Scripture talks about our need to look at what kind of fruit is being produced...this summer the ministry at Loucon produced an incredible amount of fruit. I guess the reality is that God produced an incredible amount of fruit at Loucon!

Camp was followed up by New Song. This is where I gave my life to Christ in 1987. This ministry has been going on for 26 years, and after this year the New Song committee had to decide that there will not be a festival in 2012. There is a question about what New Song’s ministry will be in the future, and right now only God knows. The attendance was down significantly and therefore the festival lost money. The irony there is that when looking at the ministry I believe this was the most powerful New Song I have ever witnessed. The bands were truly about sharing God’s life changing Love. David Calhoun’s talk and the Loucon Staff Presentation helped maintain a focus that was centered fully on Christ. It was powerful, and several people stepped forward to give their lives to Christ. Once again much fruit is being produced!

So, what will the future of Loucon be? That is obviously in the hands of God; however I hope that it will continue to be about the Love and Message of Christ! I believe that Loucon has been used by God to really challenge and encourage people in their faith. It is a place where people come to know Jesus for the first time and a place that enables them to nurture  and deepen that relationship! As for 2011 Loucon has been a place that has endured a lot of financial challenges. It also has been Holy Ground where God has revealed himself to those campers, guests, counselors, and staff in a mighty way! Loucon has been a place where God has provided through generous people and churches! Loucon has been a very frduitful ministry!

 By: Warren Hopper, Loucon Director

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