Herald-Whig View

Jensen Woods Camp has created sound plan for survival

Posted: Jul. 3, 2018 12:01 am

A NONPROFIT group has moved one step closer to owning Jensen Woods Camp near Timewell.

The Jensen Camp Foundation has raised about half of the $500,000 needed as a down payment on the 550-acre camp by the end of this month. A fundraising event for the camp on June 23 at the Adams County Fairgrounds brought in $32,000, and the Federated Church of Clayton is donating $50,000.

Foundation President Gretchen Forsythe doesn't want the fundraising effort to come down to the last minute.

"We're up to 31 counties in Illinois where we have supporters, campers or donors or people who have done something for the camp foundation. That's almost a third of the state," Forsythe told The Herald-Whig.

Jensen Woods Camp has been around for 51 years as a church camp, also available for retreats and family events. Previously owned by the Illinois Great River Conference of the United Methodist Church, the camp had seen declining use in recent years, and the church group needed money. After three years of negotiations with the foundation, the Great River Conference was closing and sold the camp to a St. Louis developer on March 20.

Forsythe got a phone call the next morning and by Good Friday had been offered a chance for the foundation to buy the camp.

If the foundation is successful, the property will become a nondenominational Christian camp for West-Central Illinois, Northeast Missouri and Southeast Iowa.

Foundation member Terri Houser said if the campaign is successful the electricity will be turned on, the camp will be spruced up and supporters hope to hold an open house or mini camp later this summer.

To those who are familiar with Jensen Woods, it is too valuable to lose. The facility has camp sites, a bunkhouse that sleeps 18, an A-frame that sleeps eight, treehouses, hookups for RVs, 15 miles of horse trails, an indoor chapel, two outdoor chapels and Dixon Lodge, which seats more than 100 at tables, and a commercial kitchen.

Forsythe said the foundation also is trying to educate people who are unfamiliar with the camp.

Overall, the foundation is trying to raise $1.9 million to complete the purchase. And supporters hope they can persuade Scout troops, 4-H clubs, veterans organizations, equestrian clubs, senior citizens, families, schools and others to use the camp throughout the year.

That's a sound game plan.

Jensen Camp Foundation wants to preserve a longstanding facility, but its members also want to see it evolve to serve new needs and remain relevant for generations to come.

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