Camp Indianola saved by warm hearts

INDIANOLA — The sacred space is safe. Generous donors throughout the Northwest have contributed $1.9 million to save Camp Indianola, the place where generations of youngsters have soared over the water on the rope swing and warmed their spirits at the lodge’s massive stone fireplace.

For awhile, it appeared that the camp might be sold to a private owner.

The Seattle First United Methodist Church, which is a half-owner of the camp, wanted to sell its share in Camp Indianola to help fund the rebuilding or relocation of the church in downtown Seattle. The church suffered major structural damage in the earthquake of 2001.

The Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church, which the downtown Church is a part of, owns the other half of the year-round camp that gets 6,000 visitors.

Just over a year ago, the conference received formal notice from the Seattle church that it wanted to sell its share, said Tom Wilson, executive director of the United Methodist Foundation of the Northwest.

The conference and the church have been in a partnership with the camp for more than 20 years.

Representatives from the nearly 300 churches within the conference had a special session last December. From that meeting, the idea to start the fund-raising campaign, “Sacred Space: A Campaign To Save Camp Indianola,” took off.

Wilson, who led the campaign with Jenny Phillips, headed up the $2.2 million campaign and found an overwhelming response.

“It was exciting because as the campaign unfolded, we had individuals and organizations that did not have United Methodist ties who made contributions,” Wilson said. Other churches outside the conference in the Northwest and West Coast region made contributions as well.

Right now, $1.9 million is pledged, Wilson said. At the annual conference last week, the decision was made for the conference to go ahead and purchase the camp. Any difference between the pledged funds and the remaining purchase price will be covered by a short term loan.

If the camp hadn’t been purchased by the conference, the estate would have been sold as a whole and the camp would have ceased to exist.

Staff members released a large sigh of relief, relaxed with the fact their special place was saved.

“Wow! What a relief,” said Pete Simpson, Camp Indianola Director. “The camp will continue and we look forward to maintaining it. It was an opportunity to continue the positive ministry that this camp is about.”

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