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  • Writer's pictureSteve Gracia


For several years, starting in the early 2000s, everywhere I turned, someone was announcing their “Vision 2020” campaign. In the world of non-profits such as churches, camps, para-church ministries, and other NGOs, this was fairly common. The term referring to the ideal visual health and focus score seemed too irresistible to avoid. The calendar year we are completing made the ideal metaphor for so many vision statements and strategic plans that it was almost obnoxious. But the idea was simple. It was about purpose, direction, and goal setting. Most organizations that developed a plan around this timeline benchmark did so with great hope. They put a goal on paper, strategized on how to accomplish it by the end of the stated term (most were 3 to 5-year plans), and attempted to execute it with utmost diligence so the “Vision 2020” would become a reality and ultimately be remembered as a great success. Our ministry was no exception.

Though Thousand Pines did not have a specific strategic plan with that same title, we were undoubtedly executing our mission and purpose with the same resolve. Thousand Pines exists to help people see, know, and experience God. This defines our core purpose for existing as a ministry. But our Vision Statement clarifies what it looks like to succeed at the mission.

Our Vision

Every person positively changed through extraordinary experiences

  • by creating opportunities for relational, character, and spiritual development

  • by exceeding expectations through serving, caring, and loving at every opportunity.

We are a camp, but we are also so much more than that. Sure, we run camping programs where we bring people together for outdoor recreation, and then we, of course, also preach the gospel. This is effective for changing hearts and lives forever. However, that’s not all we do. We host groups who run similar programs of their own. We hold weeks of science camp for schools, focusing on the scientific principles of the natural setting where we run our operations. We rent our facilities for special events like weddings, baptisms, pool parties, church services, school field trips, local sports team practices, commercial film productions, university training camps, municipal community activities, and more. Although our primary purpose is to run retreats for the specific purpose of ministering to the church groups that come to our programs with whatever age stage they bring, we also desire to be available to be used by God through the resources of this property, so that He is made known all the more. As long as the activities we permit here provide programming for relational, character, and spiritual development, we believe we can serve, care for, and love our guests in a way that reflects Christ in all things. We desire to minister to Every Person at Every Opportunity.

Of course, we have limitations. We only allow activities at the camp that do not conflict with our core statement of faith tenets. But we still have a broad diversity of activities here at Thousand Pines. Most of our time and resources are spent running youth programs where we preach the gospel. But we also reach out in other ways to fulfill our mission fully. As we approached the year 2020, with over 80 years of ministry and over 20 years of steady growth, we began this year with the expectation that God was going to continue not just to sustain this ministry but further it beyond the goals and plans set for the benchmark of the calendar year, 2020. But as it turns out, God had other plans.

We started the year with an incredibly successful winter and science camp season. By the time COVID-19 hit and its effects were felt worldwide in mid-March, we were wrapping up the strongest first quarter of the year on record. Winter Camp numbers were up over 30% from the previous year. Science Camp numbers were so strong and steady that we could hardly find enough staff each week to keep up with the demand. We had the largest financial reserves we have ever had, thanks to the generosity of our donors and some of our legacy gift partners. We ran with the most competent, well-equipped, and unified staff teams we’ve ever had. Then, on March 13th, we were closed by the order of civil authority, and we’ve remained mostly that way since. Our expectation of what 2020 would look like was unmet, and we are now persevering through one of the most stretching times this ministry has ever known.

I know we’re not alone in this. I’m sure you, too, are being stretched in your own setting. The quarantine period, the ongoing political unrest, economic regression, massive wildfires, the presidential election issues, and the ongoing strife, division, and tension in our nation and communities have us all in an uncomfortable position, perhaps like never before. I’m reminded of the quote, “God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.” I think there’s some obvious application here to our situations. But the question is, what are you going to do about it? Perhaps, what are WE going to do about it? At the moment, you may feel powerless to do anything specifically helpful. But I have an idea. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Every year, we send a letter this season to appeal to you, our alums, friends, family, and partners in this ministry. We typically ask for your continued support of Thousand Pines ministry by making a special financial contribution before the end of the year. Typically, we raise between $30,000 and $100,0000 through this appeal. This year is no exception. But our ask this time comes with a more specific plea too. Would you commit to joining us in prayer as we wrap up this crazy year? The challenges we face will obviously not go away just because the calendar advances. But as we transition from this year into next and are still in this afflicted condition, we ask for your partnership and support like never before. Would you commit to the challenge that 2 Chronicles puts forth? Would you commit to pray, seek Him daily, with a humble spirit, abandoning all hindrances, and ask for His divine intervention for us all? If you’re not already, would you remember to pray daily for Thousand Pines as we navigate this ongoing closure and ever-increasing restrictions on our operations? We seek His face and His will. We trust in Him and Him only in this time. And together, we look for His direction while we trust in His provision... Beyond 2020.

Thank you for your ongoing partnership and support of Thousand Pines Christian Camp.

​With love, respect, and gratitude,

Stephen Garcia

Thousand Pines Camp Director

PS: All gifts are tax-deductible, and Thousand Pines is faithful to steward every dollar donated precisely as you request.

Be sure to select your gift category designation on the enclosed giving card or give online at


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