In 1959, land was purchased to provide space for people to gather in community in the midst of God’s creation. From those early years, Woodcrest Retreat has been viewed as an oasis from the busyness of life. It is a place set apart where one can experience and enjoy the peace and presence of God. Over the years, the property has expanded and buildings have been added but the core mission has remained the same: introduce people to Jesus Christ and encourage Christian growth. For over 60 years, individuals, families, churches, and organizations have helped shape Woodcrest to be a multi-faceted ministry supporting our local communities and growing God’s Kingdom.
Woodcrest has been extremely blessed with a faithful support base that continues to enhance the ministry in a variety of ways. This support has allowed Woodcrest to sustain continued growth for over a decade. In the past couple of years, that growth has been significant and has required the Board of Directors to strategically plan how to manage that growth in a God-honoring way.
Since 2020, we have seen a dramatic increase in our summer camp program. There has been a 29% enrollment increase with waiting lists for all of our camp programs (we served nearly 2,000 campers in 2022). There has been a nearly 100% increase in our RV campground with most weekends in the summer being at least 75% full. With the completion of our dining hall expansion in 2018, we have seen a 200% increase from rental groups using that facility.
In addition to growing our clientele, we are also diversifying our outreach. In 2022, we served over 375 different churches from a variety of denominational backgrounds. We are serving groups from Lancaster, Berks, and Lebanon counties with several groups coming from the Philadelphia area. There were more than 250 volunteers in 2021 serving over 3,000 hours. The support base for Woodcrest continues to grow, too. There were over 500 unique donors who gave financially last year to see the Gospel go forth. Through their support ,we were able to provide $16,000 in camper scholarships to over 100 campers.
This growth has required adapting our strategic plan to capitalize on this season and to ensure that we serve our guests well. We have divided our services into six core areas each focused on creating space for people to experience the wonder of God and help us complete our mission. Each area is committed to increasing Gospel impact.
To facilitate this growth and seize the opportunity, we have developed a comprehensive vision. A redesigned building plan has shifted previous plans to prioritize the need to address current growth and ensure facilities are ready for future growth as the Lord leads.
The Board of Directors has identified as Woodcrest’s next development project, a building plan that enables us to manage current need while laying the foundation for continued impact. This new initiative is called “Mission 4:12” and casts a wide vision for where we believe God is leading.
Although Woodcrest serves families, churches, and organizations, our passion is reaching youth with the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rooted in a commitment to transferring biblical truths to the next generation, Mission 4:12 references Paul’s urging to young Timothy, “Let no one despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). We see a future where the youth we are reaching today will be tomorrow’s pastors, missionaries, business leaders, teachers, artists, blue collar workers, professionals, philanthropists, parents, and ministry leaders. Our desire is to see God grow His Kingdom in their hearts and then outward.
To accomplish this bold vision, Woodcrest is pursuing a two phase project that will increase our youth impact by more than 100% and enable us to have year-round programming and partnerships.
Phase 1: Our most immediate and pressing need is for a new shower house that will replace the “temporary” bath shack that was erected in 2007 to be used for our overnight camp programs. Now 15 years later, a more modern facility is needed that can accommodate the growth that happened over those years. This phases includes a new showers house that will provide shower facilities for overnight camp and will also extend the sewer line from the pool area over the hill and into this area providing for future expansion and providing access to water year-round. Estimated costs of Phase is $350,000.
Thanks to generous supporters, this project is almost entirely funded and is scheduled to be completed by the beginning of summer camp in June of 2023. To learn more about Phase 1 and to see pictures of the progress and the remaining need for funds, click here.
Phase 2: Once the shower house facility is completed, we will raising funds to replace our current eight bunkhouses with 10 new Lancaster Log Cabins. These winterized facilities will increase our overnight camper capacity and provide much needed space for summer staff while also allowing us to offer year-round retreats and camps. Currently, the bunkhouses get limited use outside of the summer months. We see a vision of running our own winter camps and youth retreats while also providing space for churches to run their own events for up 120 people. These cabins would also be useful for developing family programming by providing space for 20 families/couples and allowing us to do overnight school retreats through the School of Wonder. Although each cabin will have a bathroom, we are adding a second shower house that will be centrally located making these cabins more appealing and convenient to a wider audience. Each cabin would be no more than three minute walk to the nearest shower facility.
The current estimated budget for phase 2 is 1.5 million. Although these will be Lancaster Log Cabins, the inside layout is still being developed by our Ministry Task Force to ensure that the cabins will serve Woodcrest well for years to come and allow for ministry growth.
Phase 3: To provide the optimal use of these cabins, a conveniently located Program Center would be built across from Oak Shade Pavilion. This building would contain a full commercial kitchen and dining facility adequate to handle our summer camp program plus a dining hall closely located to the cabins for winter retreats and field trips (it would feed 150 people which is the slightly over the number of beds added by the new cabins). The second floor of the program center would contain a gymnasium (with courts for basketball, volleyball, pickle ball and more). Various classrooms would provide small group space for churches using the cabins and much needed space for the School of Wonder programs. A large outdoor porch would enhance community building where campers and guests can sit and take in the beautiful surroundings. The completion of this facility would allow us to keep the current rentals that fill the Indian Rock Center while adding additional groups at the top of the hill.
The current estimated budget of phase 3 is 2.2 million. The design of the building is still in development.
Phase 4: With the completion of these new facilities Woodcrest would be able to offer year round retreats, overnight field trip options for school groups, and provide quality facilities for church groups. These final phase would increase Woodcrest ministry impact by over 100% by increasing our overnight capacity from 36 beds year round to having over 175 beds. We are already moving in this direction with offering small scale winter camps and retreats that are programmed and staffed by Woodcrest teams. Additionally, we have been consistently having to turn down groups that are are too large for current facilities but would be ideal for the new ones.
Mission 4:12 Initiative is a bold step of faith, but one that we believe our heavenly Father is paving the way. The total initiative is projected to be over four million dollars. While daunting, we believe that our God can provide. We invite you to consider how you want to partner with us to see today’s youth equipped by the Gospel to serve. It is exciting to see the many ways God has positioned us for this moment. You can use the links on the sidebar to learn more or to contribute to the project.