Camp Siloam meets for strategic planning

SILOAM SPRINGS – Members of the Camp Siloam staff and key constituent groups met Oct. 11 to discuss the future of the camp and to discuss guiding strategies for the next five years.

In all, 12 Camp Siloam staffers were joined by “17 people representing constituent groups who love Jesus’ ministry,” said Jason Wilkie, executive director of Camp Siloam.

“The reason for the gathering (was that) Camp Siloam’s 20-year master plan will soon complete its first five-year phase. Starting in 2020, Camp Siloam will be working on the next five-year phase of the master plan,” said Wilkie.

“In order to move on with the next phase, camp leadership needed to look at the programs and projects that did not get implemented in the first five years, the program and projects that were slated for 2020-25 and new opportunities that had arisen.”

Wilkie said it was important how priorities for the projects were determined.

“The challenge we faced was taking 61 project ideas and narrowing it down to 15 projects that would most benefit the ministry. We wanted to put first what our guests and stakeholders felt was most important.”

In organizing the meeting, Wilkie said board members, former staff, former campers, parents, youth pastors, children’s pastors, associational missionaries and community leaders were invited to participate in the meeting.

Camp Siloam staff presented an internal profile of the camp and then asked staff and guests to discuss and prioritize the 61 projects.

“The ‘why’ behind this gathering is very challenging to me from a leadership standpoint,” said Collin Marsden, Next Generation pastor at First Baptist Church, Prairie Grove.

Marsden added, “The staff at Camp Siloam didn’t need us here. They could make these decisions. They know the needs of the camp and have the big picture, the vision. Yet, by bringing us here, it is going above and beyond showing how the staff at Camp Siloam value other perspectives for sake of unity and buy-in.”

Elizabeth Bryant, a former Camp Siloam Servant-Core Leadership camper, said the meeting was “eye-opening.”

“I know what it takes to keep the dining hall running. But I had no idea how much is involved in maintenance,” she said. Servant-Core campers do the dishes each week during summer camp as part of Camp Siloam’s leadership program.

Summer Wright, guest experience director at Camp Siloam, added, “It surprised me that some of the summer staff said renovation of summer staff housing was not a priority. They said they would rather the funds go to improve something that would benefit the campers.”

Bryant said the discussion around the priorities was challenging.

“You might not want to rank bunkhouses ahead of a two-acre lake, but new bunkhouses would make things run so much better,” said Bryant. “When you see how the dining hall turned out, it’s exciting to imagine how the other facilities might turn out.”

Karen White of Russellville, a Camp Siloam trustee, said, “What has been beneficial for me has been internal knowledge of the condition of the buildings and what we’re facing.”

Wilkie said Camp Siloam leadership would take the projects and the action items that came out of the planning session and “perform a gap analysis on the projects and set them into a timetable at a retreat in two weeks.”

The final list of projects will be placed into the next five-year phase of the master plan and presented to the Board of Trustees at their meeting in March, he said.

Dave Deitzer, founder and managing partner of Deitzer Consulting, Scranton, Penn., served as group facilitator.

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