WCR FILE PHOTO
Campers at Camp Encounter enjoy a game of skill and fun.
Following an extensive review of the operations of Camp Encounter and Our Lady of Victory Camp, the two archdiocesan summer camps are now under the jurisdiction of the Edmonton Archdiocese through the office of Youth Evangelization.
Moreover, at the request of Archbishop Richard Smith, the legal societies that used to run both camps are being dissolved and the directors of both camps are reporting directly to the Office of Youth Evangelization.
"I appreciate the passion and the commitment that has been reflected throughout the years at both camps," said Andrew Papenbrock, associate director of the Office of Youth Evangelization.
"I'm humbled by the number of people that echo the praise of the good works that are and have been done (at the camps) over the years."
Papenbrock, who has been working with the staff and board members of both camps for more than a year, said that several years ago Smith asked for a review of both camps to see "how the camps might fit in the larger strategy of evangelizing young people and their families."
The archdiocese, which owns both camps, wanted to find out what was working, what was not, what are the best practices and how the camps could become better.
During the review process "we met with the people at the camps and one of their recommendations was that the archdiocese became more directly involved and more intentionally involved with the camps."
The review, which was completed in December, emphasised the positive role both camps play in the evangelization of youth but raised some concerns about governance and operations.
"It became immediately clear that the legal societies that had been the stewards of these camps for many years were no longer required," Papenbrock pointed out.
"(Moreover), there are several new archdiocesan policies and procedures in place, including our safe environment protocols, and human resources that can now better serve the camps and their volunteers."
It was in that spirit that the archbishop asked the societies of both camps to dissolve, Papenbrock said.
In an email, he quoted Smith as saying, "I am asking that the legal organizations dissolve, not the committees and the people who bring much knowledge, experience, commitment and passion."
With the societies dissolved, "all employees at the camps are now employees of the archdiocese and all the camp volunteers are part of the volunteer management programs that we have within the archdiocese."
Papenbrock said the camps' volunteer boards, which no longer have the responsibility for hiring personnel, doing payroll or filing income-tax reports, will continue to act as advisors to the camps' directors and to the youth evangelization office in particular.
"We look forward to working with them because they have the experience and the passion and the knowledge of what those camps are like."
There was also a financial feasibility study of both camps "and that came back positive as well," he said. "So we see some really good stewardship around the financial resources being given to the camps."
Papenbrock noted each camp had developed a unique identity over the years and said, "That's going to be respected."
Camp Encounter is a Catholic-Christian year-round camp located one hour northwest of Edmonton and situated on 100 acres of beautiful lakeshore and forest terrain. It offers year-round programs, including a residential summer camp, school programs and weekend facility rentals.
OLVC, located northwest of Red Deer, offers week-long summer camps for youth run by young adults. Facilities include cabins equipped with bunk beds, serviced washrooms and showers, a chapel, kitchen and complete dining facilities, and a large meeting hall.
OLVC can accommodate up to 160 people and is available for rentals year round.
Papenbrock said the archdiocese is planning to put together an advisory committee for camps.