North Georgia Camp and Retreat Ministries (NGCRM) and its family of ministries, including Glisson Camp & Retreat Center, Grow Day Camps, Shoreline Camps, and Experiential Leadership Institute, will kickoff its summer 2024 schedule in just a few short months.
In 2022, NGCRM secured a loan from the Georgia United Methodist Foundation to purchase 10 acres of land adjacent to Camp Glisson when it unexpectedly became available. In this Q&A, NGCRM Executive Director C. Russell Davis provides insight into its mission and ministry and how the Foundation helped to turn a long dreamt of strategic opportunity into reality.
Q: What is NGCRM’s mission, and how does it seek to impact lives through its family of ministries?
Davis: NGCRM exists to help individuals explore who God created them to be, which transforms lives, and how God created them to lead, which transforms the world. We do this by partnering with families and churches to offer immersive experiences of practicing Christian faith and servant leadership in ways that translate to everyday life.
Q: What would you like our readers to know about NGCRM?
Davis: In addition to the beliefs that form our Christian faith and are core to everything we do in our North Georgia Camping Ministries, three beliefs inform how we do ministry:
- We believe that if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. We humans enjoy the comfort of what we know. Unless we are physically, socially, mentally, and spiritually challenged, lasting transformation is unlikely to take place. Our camp ministry experiences provide safe spaces to be challenged, and even be uncomfortable, so that meaningful and lasting growth can occur.
- We believe that true unity is only possible when we honor our differences. “Unity through diversity” informs our camp ministry’s work as we seek to create a Christian community with our campers.
- People sometimes get stuck in their assumptions, self-talk, relationships, and faith. We believe “liminal space” – that space in-between the life we’re currently living and the life we’re discerning a call to live – is rare and is essential for growth and change, for becoming “unstuck.” Our camp ministry strives to create liminal space for campers and retreat participants.
Q: Why was the land acquisition so important?
Davis: The property had been owned for over 40 years by a neighbor who trained and boarded horses. She lived on the land and maintained it until she could no longer. The property was surrounded by Glisson property on three sides, is adjacent to the Glisson Outpost, and bordered the entrance road to Outpost. At the time, and even now, property in Dahlonega sells quickly and often above the asking price. We learned of the owner’s intent to sell by accident and had a narrow window to secure the purchase before the property was listed. The Foundation’s loan allowed us to close quickly, reducing the possibility of the seller reconsidering.
Over the past 12 years, NGCRM has made significant investments in expanding the Outpost program, nearly doubling its capacity, to increase its long-term sustainability as we pursued the North Georgia Annual Conference’s goal of doubling the number of summer campers we served. Acquiring this property ensured that a long-shared boundary between the Outpost site and its entrance road would not be compromised by a neighbor or development that would detract from Outpost’s natural setting, which could have jeopardized over a decade of site and program development.
Q: What visions does NGCRM have for this property?
Davis: The barn on the property provided much-needed equipment storage this past summer and, in 2024, will provide a new base of operations for our senior high Expedition trips. The house will allow full-time staff presence closer to the Outpost site. And in the distant future, the mountain view from the property offers wonderful possibilities for serving our families and churches in new ways.
Q: How would you describe the partnership between NGCRM and the Foundation?
Davis: Because we’ve worked together so well, so many times, the Foundation knows us, and we know them. There is a mutual trust that gives us confidence in the agreements we reach. In that sense, it is a partnership because neither of us is primarily seeking a financial advantage but rather the best way to expand our missional impact. Missional impact isn’t the primary purpose of a commercial lender.
Q: How does the Foundation help NGCRM fulfill its mission?
Davis: Whether we’re acting on years of careful planning or are presented suddenly with a long dreamt of strategic opportunity like this property acquisition, the Foundation has the resources to help us manage the assets that make ministry visions possible. That means that we are free to continue prayerfully discerning where God is acting next so that we can creatively continue to support churches and families in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Davis: We’re getting ready to celebrate our 100th anniversary of camping ministry at Glisson, and we’re just getting started! Give us a call or email and come and see for yourself – email@example.com or 706-864-6181.