Alpine Camp and Conference Center Burns Mortgage

Post a Comment » Written on March 19th, 2008     
Filed under: News
BLUE JAY, CA (March 19, 2008) – Raging forest fires came within a mile of overtaking Alpine Camp and Conference Center last October, threatening to destroy the facility. Recently, however, camp leaders and founders celebrated as they started their own fire and watched a copy of the camp’s mortgage go up in flames.

The “Burning the Mortgage” ceremony held last month celebrated the first time the camp has been debt-free since it was founded in 1957, says John Gehring, Alpine’s executive director. It also marked the beginning of new efforts to fund camp scholarships.

Pictured (from left) are Stan White and Jim Stayboldt, lighting a copy of the camp’s mortgage, along with Gordon Stayboldt, Bud Ekblad, and John Gehring.

The original debt was never paid off because the camp lumped successive loans into the mortgage. At one point, the debt reached $2.6 million, Gehring says.

In 1997, Edie Warning and other friends of the camp established an endowment of $170,000, and used the interest to help pay down the debt. The camp also was paying $20,000 a month against the mortgage.

Additional financial gifts helped the camp pay off the final million dollars over the last two years.

Leaders wanted the camp to eliminate the debt during the year of the camp’s fiftieth anniversary. On December 26, 2007, they made the last payment. “It was the old Covenanters who really stepped up and helped pay it off,” Gehring says.

Younger campers will be among the beneficiaries. Alpine announced that the money once used to pay the debt relief will now support the Edie Warning Camper Scholarship Endowment.

Gehring says the scholarships are especially needed as the economy takes a downturn.  “The whole idea is that in the time of recession, this is the best way to stabilize the camp,” Gehring says.

During difficult economic times, camping is considered discretionary funding, and parents are more reluctant to enroll their children, Gehring says.

The endowment currently has $191,000. “Our goal is to grow the endowment to $1 million,” Gehring says.

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