Grace and Peace,
Every day I look at or repeat our mission statement, which reads, in part: “We are a people dedicated to creating quality environments of Christian hospitality and learning.” This sentence brings joy to my heart every time because I am committed to this work and I have seen the power of Christian hospitality and learning in my own life.
There are times when my joy turns to sorrow as I experience the reality of a member of my community not living as fully into this mission. This is an unpleasant way of learning. And so I share with you news that brings a chapter to a close for us in Camp and Retreat Ministries.
We received word this past week that former Executive Director, James Parkhurst was sentenced to 11 years in prison followed by 15 years of probation. Mr. Parkhurst pled guilty to the charge of transportation of child pornography, stemming from actions in 2010 while visiting in Colorado. He was arrested in August of 2016. You can read the original statement from Board Chair David Armstrong here.
While this news is certainly painful and unpleasant, we provide this information for honesty and transparency, and for some degree of closure related to this tragic episode in our history. Although this incident did not involve a camping program, any harm is unacceptable and brings pain to our community.
Our Camp and Retreat Ministry team is dedicated to protecting children, youth, and adults from harm by:
- Requiring criminal back ground checks for all adults who lead our programs and work at our sites;
- Selecting qualified staff who meet our standards of conduct, annual disclosures;
- Training our staff and volunteers in best practices regarding abuse prevention (Safe Sanctuaries);
- Training our staff to watch for signs of children who may have suffered abuse.
- Adhering to the American Camp Association guidelines.
Our next training is to be held April 6-8, 2018 at Camp Magruder. As always, one element of this training will focus on abuse prevention. This means that we will explore what is meant by abuse, harassment and assault and how to prevent such incidents. We will role play through a variety of scenarios that could occur to train our staff to keep our campers, retreatants and guests safe.
The expectation to attend this training includes the many volunteers who support our programs through their efforts of working with our campers and retreatants. The more that we know, the better able we are to prevent harm.
Through our commitment to learning we move through our grief and disappointment, shape new practices, share with others, and grow as a community. We are a community that continues to transform our camp and retreat sites, programs, staff, and volunteers to offer places of safety, hospitality, discovery and joy.
See you around the campfire soon,