Home News Hocking County – Camp Otterbein Sells After Declining Attendance and Financial Losses

Hocking County – Camp Otterbein Sells After Declining Attendance and Financial Losses

Photo - Mossy Oak Property

Camp Otterbein, nestled in the serene landscapes of Hocking Hills, Ohio, has stood as a beacon of faith-based summer camp experiences for generations. However, this summer saw a stark departure from its usual bustling activities, as the camp remained eerily empty, devoid of campers and the vibrant energy that typically fills its grounds.

Hilary Moore, a former camper turned counselor and program director, reminisces about the bustling mornings filled with adventure and spiritual growth. For Moore, Camp Otterbein wasn’t just a summer retreat; it was a transformative experience that shaped her faith and career. Learning of the camp’s closure this summer due to staffing constraints was a heartbreaking blow for her and many others who cherish its significance in their lives.

The decision to cancel residential summer camps was made by the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church, citing safety concerns amidst staffing shortages. Faced with ongoing financial challenges and declining enrollment, the Conference agreed to the sale of Camp Otterbein.

Bishop Gregory Palmer, overseeing the Conference, acknowledges the difficult decision ahead, emphasizing the need to assess stewardship of resources and the effectiveness of serving the community. A task force was convened to evaluate the future of camping and retreat ministry, ultimately recommending the sale of Camps Widewater and Otterbein as a necessary step towards sustainability.

However, this proposal isn’t without its critics. Joel Harbarger, a retired pastor and former camp volunteer, expresses concerns about the broader context surrounding the potential sale. With a significant portion of churches departing from the United Methodist Church, primarily due to disagreements over LGBTQ rights, financial support for the Conference has dwindled. Harbarger worries about the implications of scaling back a vital service aimed at nurturing the next generation of faith leaders amidst this already challenging landscape.

As the decision to sell Camp Otterbein was made, stakeholders grappled with the delicate balance between fiscal responsibility and preserving cherished traditions. The fate of this beloved camp, steeped in history and cherished memories, may be forever changed now that the property has sold for a staggering 3.4 Million dollars this week the property was listed at 467 acres in Hocking County.

It is currently unknown what will come of the property after the sale.