A Successful Summer
In a note to the Twin Rocks Board of Directors in May, Twin Rocks Director Ken Beebe predicted:
“Despite enormous obstacles currently facing the camp, I believe we will ultimately look back upon summer 2020 with joy and celebration, grateful to God for a wonderful season of meaningful ministry—even if this ministry looks markedly different from summers before and after.”
How true this proved to be. Even after receiving word in early June of the disallowance of overnight kids’ camps, Twin Rocks managed to enjoy a wonderful summer. Despite no Boys, Girls, Tween, and Surfside Camps, children were cared for, families were blessed and people heard about Jesus:
■ DAY CAMPS. By God’s grace, 2020’s obstacles became opportunity for kids who live near camp. With overnight camps prohibited, Twin Rocks shifted its focus locally. The traditional single week of Day Camp rapidly became five, as local parents showed immediate appreciation for this newfound opportunity to provide summertime fun for their kids.
Twin Rocks summer staff members ably adapted to the change and soon found themselves immersed in ministry to happy and high-energy grade and middle schoolers. Camp routines included temperature checks, social distancing, facemasks, cohorting in stable groups of 10, and lots of handwashing, but the kids did not seem to mind. The children had spent all spring cooped up and doing school at home, and Day Camp gave them the chance to get outside and play with other kids.
Most weeks of Day Camp easily filled to our COVID capacity of 100 campers. More than half of Day Campers were brand new to Twin Rocks, and three-fourths reported no church connection. As such, 2020’s Day Camps connected closely with the camp’s core mission “…to use God’s creation and a Christ-centered environment to promote personal growth and devotion to Jesus Christ.”
■ FAMILY VACATION ADVENTURES. Interspersed among Day Camps, Twin Rocks hosted 4½ weeks of Family Vacation Adventures, giving families a chance to enjoy nature, bond together, worship, play, relax, and connect (socially distanced) with other families. Attendance averaged fifty-three campers per week with several families coming more than once. The Dining Center was partitioned by distanced “cohorts,” groups of 10 or fewer who not only ate together, but shared assigned activity times for recreation options like swimming, boating, archery, the zip line, and sand dollar and shark dissection classes. Rating their Family Vacation Experience at 9.6 on a 10-point scale, they had much to share:
• “With fear, anger, and anxiety during COVID-19, this camp was a haven for our family to get rest….”
• “This was our first time here and it was so wonderful! We loved it and will be back.”
• “We had an amazing time reconnecting with each other and nature. The grounds were amazing as was the staff. We had a wonderful time at the beach. Thank you!”
• “Great sunsets at the amphitheater and at the beach. Learned to pause and be grateful that God is in charge and I am not.”
■ JONI & FRIENDS FAMILY RETREATS. One of the few guest groups able to come to Twin Rocks this summer was Joni & Friends, a camp for families affected by disability. Though their numbers were smaller due to social distancing requirements (averaging 125 per week versus their typical 250+), families had a great experience, participating by cohort in the usual camp fun. A large tent with open sides was set up in Cammack Field that allowed the group to meet together. They, too, expressed great gratitude for the extra efforts made to host camp during COVID:
• “My heart felt lighter this week!”
• “I came depleted of emotions and spirit. I left totally restored, rested and laughing.”
• “Arrived stressed, worn out and overloaded. After one week I am rested and relaxed. Time at Twin Rocks is as close to Heaven as we can get on earth. Thank you!”
Joni & Friends International Disability Center normally operates more than 30 summer retreats nationwide in a wide variety of camp settings. Remarkably, COVID canceled all but three of these in 2020, so Twin Rocks felt especially blessed to host two of the three.
Hitting The Pause Button
Painful Autumn and Winter Seasons. The camp’s pre-summer assumptions about the timeline of COVID’s impact
proved far too optimistic. Instead of seeing an autumn reduction in limitations on overnight camping and group gatherings, those restrictions remained fully in place into fall, as did a mid-summer addition requiring face-coverings.
The camp faced few options. Most campers and rental groups chose to cancel rather than face rainy days inside, cohorting in groups of 10, wearing facemasks, and sleeping one household per cabin.
In light of these realities, Twin Rocks could not profitably operate and offer its typical fall slate of outdoor schools, pastors’ conferences, men’s/women’s retreats, and youth group gatherings.
Facing a nearly empty fall calendar, Twin Rocks recently “hit the pause button,” discontinuing nearly all operations for the next several months, awaiting a time when COVID-19 and safety restrictions reduce enough for campers to comfortably return to camp. A scaled-back Harbor Villa Retreat Center remains open, but no camps and retreats occur on Twin Rocks’ main grounds.
Layoffs. As a result, on September 15 Twin Rocks laid off or furloughed most of its employees. Only a skeleton crew remains, but the camp looks forward to ramping back up as soon as circumstances allow, anticipated to occur sometime in 2021. The current hope is to rehire much of the same team of workers in March, enabling Twin Rocks to run a close-to-normal summer in 2021.
Financial Outlook. Despite layoffs and other budgetary cutbacks, Twin Rocks is facing its worst-ever financial season. Combined operations losses in 2020 and 2021 may reach $1.3 million, and a cash flow shortfall at times approaching half that amount. Friends of the camp have helped immensely toward combating these losses, already contributing more than $100,000.
Though new debt will prove essential, the camp will certainly weather it. Prior to COVID, Twin Rocks carried very little debt (a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.16), with nearly all of that shorter-term and connected to its current capital campaign. Nonetheless, the period ahead will be painful, requiring strategic fundraising and frugal budgeting.
Twin Rocks launches TRAILS
In September, Twin Rocks stepped forward to meet a community need. After seeing a successful summer Day Camp program, parents and leaders throughout Tillamook County approached Twin Rocks and requested help this fall with childcare. Twin Rocks Outdoor Education Director, Emily Sargent, offered to direct TRAILS—a new childcare program for school-aged kids whose schools this fall are entirely online. TRAILS (Twin Rocks Assistance In Learning Success) operates Monday-Thursday each week from 7:30am-3:30pm and serves forty kids (20-25 tend to be in attendance each day, as many students participate half-time).
Adhering to social distancing practices, the Dining Center has been transformed into classroom space for 4th through 6th graders. A local school loaned desks, providing individual work areas for kids to link into their classrooms with school-supplied Chromebooks. Kindergarten through 3rd graders study in the similarly set up Tillamook Bay room. When classes are not in session students take breaks in a separate Enrichment Room (the upper Friendship Center space for the older kids and the Netarts Bay room for the younger kids). There they may read from loaned library books, do crafts, listen to a Bible story, or play outside when the weather allows.
The camp upgraded to faster internet service to accommodate the online learning and after a steep learning curve—students have varying schedules since they come from two school districts, seven schools and various classrooms within those schools—the staff is now familiar with the variety of online learning applications and has the ability to navigate them while keeping kids on task. Parents express great appreciation for the TRAILS program. Some families appear to be using TRAILS for much-needed childcare, while others primarily benefit from the socialization offered to their children through TRAILS.
TRAILS is scheduled at least through mid-November, when local schools plan to reassess their COVID situation. TRAILS provides employment for six Twin Rocks staff, and a chance for several others to engage as volunteers.
The next time you come to Twin Rocks Friends Camp make your first stop the new Nature Center. Facilities Director Jeff Sargent and crew spent many weeks early in the year transforming the lower Friendship Center into a state of the art outdoor education space.
With the ocean, tide pools, forest, lake, and wetlands near at hand, the camp serves as an ideal spot for learning about the wonders of God’s creation. For many years, public and private schools have brought students to Twin Rocks for outdoor schools, taking advantage of the camp’s ideal location and hands-on programs. In recent years, the camp added outdoor schools for homeschool families.
The lower Friendship Center became the hub for outdoor education when the main offices moved to the Welcome Center in 2013, but the space was not ideal: offices overflowed and classroom space was inadequate. A dream developed to have a truly dedicated outdoor education Nature Center that was welcoming and functional.
Now, that dream has become a reality. Outdoor Education Director Emily Sargent says the new space addresses some teaching hurdles that have been difficult to manage. She remembers thinking to herself, “’We’ve just had a shark
dissection, but now I don’t have easy water access to wash my hands.’ Or, ‘I don’t have a big sink where I can wash out a sandy bucket. I have to go outside and hook up a hose.’” “There was so much thoughtful design that went into the planning of the Nature Center,” Emily says. “Now, a utility sink and warm water will make clean-up easier.”
One of the Nature Center goals is to provide an interpretive space that can be enjoyed on its own. Posters and manuals describe three salt-water tanks: The Rocky Intertidal tank features creatures that live in tide pools, and a nearby “touch tank” allows gentle handling of sea anemones and sea stars. Sand dollars, which live along the ocean floor, reside in the Sandy Bottom tank. A long counter against the east wall provides space for microscopes, which are stored in underneath cabinetry when not in classroom use. Tree and plant identification resources draw people’s curiosity to nature. A library of books is available for reference and discovery, and a glass case will display more delicate nontouchables like nests, feathers, and insects.
Mirroring the beauty in nature itself, the Nature Center is truly a transformed space with creative design elements. “I wanted it to reflect the outdoors, so there’s lots of wood,” says Jeff. Emily says, “The whole space is lighter, brighter, and more inviting.”
You Should Know…
■ S’mores anyone? With the completion of the new Fire Circle, located in the old Central Restroom space, Twin Rocks now boasts 7 outdoor fire pits available for campfire gatherings.
■ An estate gift from Roger Minthorne helped fund the construction of the new Nature Center (see accompanying article). Roger was instrumental in the development and building of the original Friendship Center in the 1970s and his grandson, Facilities Director Jeff Sargent, oversaw the Nature Center project aided by a crew that included his parents, Roger and Louise (Minthorne) Sargent.
■ Summer Staff/ SLP: This summer Twin Rocks welcomed summer staffers Chris Miller, Sami Cone, Samantha Smith, Olivia Kershner, Timmy Hartley, Ashley Weinacht, Will Brumbelow, Mariah Hagen, Angela Donathan, Blaine Greenway, Caleb Donathan, and Aiden Boehm. Student Leadership Program (SLP) participants were Blake Smith, Justice Sandoz, Jacob Cook, Emma Rose Hayes, Naomi Hagen, and Ruth Skinner.
■ Sabbatical. Executive Director Ken Beebe is taking a Sabbatical mid-October through mid-December. In his absence, Jeff Sargent is overseeing the camp’s operation.
■ Bill Rourke recently gave $250,000 toward the oceanfront lots’ purchase! This generous gift cut in half the camp’s $490,000 remaining obligation, leaving just $240,000 yet to raise (by December 2022) to fully secure these lots for Twin Rocks’ future.
Your Help is Needed
In this difficult season, would you consider a timely gift to Twin Rocks Friends Camp? The camp faces two critical needs:
■ COVID-19 Relief. Gifts to-date toward pandemic relief total more than $100,000! Unfortunately, actual losses will likely exceed $1 million.
■ Oceanfront Lots. Just $240,000 (of the $880,000 purchase price) remains for Twin Rocks to raise by December 2022 to pay in full its obligations on its recently secured oceanfront lots (located directly across the highway from Twin Rocks’ entrance).
Your gift to one of these projects would help tremendously. Thank you! (Please use the attached envelope or contribute via twinrocks.org.)