The fight to save United Methodist Camps
Brittanee Jacobs, 24, has been attending the camps since she was 8 years old, accepted Christ there at age 10 and continues to love and fight for the camps, even 16 years later.
But on Sept. 5 the Missouri Annual Conference Camping Board announced they would be closing the four camps after ending the year in a $48,428 deficit. Soon after, many, including Jacobs, took to the Internet and social media to express their confusion and disappointment.
Jacobs is now helping spearhead the campaign, SaveMOUMcamps. The organizers created a website, a Facebook page and started a petition.
She says she didn’t originally know this many people would sign the petition but that she’s also not surprised, calling the campsites home.
“When that was put together, I had never dealt with anything on change.org before and wasn’t really sure how everything worked. And at first we didn’t really have a goal, just trying to get that information out there and see how many people cared,” Jacobs said. “And then the numbers kept going up and up and up.”
Jacobs sent the petition to the Camp Board on Oct. 1 with over 2,500 signatures asking the board to reconsider closing the camps. The petition now has almost 3,000 signatures.
On Oct. 10, the board responded saying the camps will remain closed in order to move towards their new goals for the future. The board said they plan to have mobile camps, residential camping, mission trips and more in the future.
But Jacobs said this response would not end their campaign. She asks that people continue to support the campaign by signing the petition and sharing stories about the camp.
Missouri United Methodist Church, Columbia was one of the churches that had utilized the camps over the years. After many years of bringing children to these camps, Nancy Cooper, Children and Family Life Leader at Missouri United Methodist Church, Columbia, believes camps like these help children grow.
“I think children learn a lot in the outdoors and I think we all learn a lot by getting away,” Cooper said. “So, anytime we can get out in God’s creation and spend time in nature and unplug a little bit, I think it helps us to discover who we are and it helps us to discover what our relationship with God is like.”
Now, Cooper is looking into other options for the children at her church. She is planning to meet with the members from the Camping Board in November and will ask for their advice about what to do and where to go.
The Conference also said FAQ documents and forums will be held in across the state in coming weeks to give people the opportunity to address the changes and ask any additional questions.