By: Jeff Hoeben
On any given day, as our Servant Leadership team steps out to lead an environmental stewardship program, they wear a staff shirt with a quote across the back from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It states, “We are not gods, but stewards of the earth.” Stewardship is a word we hear pertaining to wisely using our time, talent, and treasure. In each of these areas the Lord has entrusted to us gifts which we are called to cultivate and use to bear as much fruit as we can.
At Camp Gray, stewardship is certainly much more than just a word on a shirt. We take our call to stewardship seriously. As many of you already know, we are currently in the process of creating a new retreat space. Using the concept of stewardship is really how this plan came to be. The impetus for the project was the fact that the current office has become a worrisome site on many fronts. We began to look for a suitable location to host the behind the scenes work of the wonderful Camp Gray staff.
The area near the Joe was a prime target for our new office. After looking to one side and then the other of this nearly 50 year old structure, and then looking closer at the structure itself, we realized that this is a building that was never intended for year-round use. It was decided to explore other options. The Joe (once upon a time our Chapel) was in need of roof repairs, electrical and lighting upgrades and more warmth for the cold winter days.
So, the Joe is badly in need of repairs. We need a new office. The location of the Joe is prime (near the parking lot and central to the heart of camp). After doing the math, a new question arose: would it make more sense to combine forces and construct a new building designed to house both a retreat space and an office? And then it hit us, another huge bonus, this new building could include the luxury of indoor restrooms, an amenity neither space currently has. And soon, the answer to our question was obvious. With a resounding “Yes!” we began to make plans. And throughout the planning process we have been committed to stewardship, to wisely using the resources we have at hand.
With the demolition of the Joe, we are able to minimize camp’s footprint expansion. The new building will be bigger because it will house both the retreat space and the new office, but it’s one building instead of two. There were seven white pine trees that needed to be removed, but what is really cool is that we are even able to use those wisely. We recognize the relationship that we are to have with the land, as a gift from God. This is a respect that comes from our desire to use the treasure that God has given. Thanks to the help from some of the local Knights council, #746, we were able to mill over 500 board feet with a portable band saw right on site. The wood will be used inside the new structure as paneling and possibly as some sturdy, hand crafted benches. Look for a pretty impressive fireplace mantle, someday (hopefully soon) down the road in the new dining hall. Each board was milled from the land, a resource given to us by God to be used wisely.
And so, stewardship guides everything that we do here. We ask our staff to be good stewards when shopping with camp’s money. They are expected to take great care of the buildings in which they live and work, as well as all camp property. Our staff teach our campers to be good stewards of the environment and of each other’s emotional needs. And we strive to be good stewards in preserving and cultivating the the gifts we have, while also meeting the needs that arise here at Camp Gray.
We are very excited about all the projects we have which will hopefully make our visitors’ experiences more fruitful. And we are grateful for the gifts that the Lord has sent us to allow this to happen.