One Camp’s Covid Journey –
Summer camp is an unforgettable experience for many. The day is packed with swimming, hiking, friends, games, songs and campfires from dawn until dusk. Camp is a place to learn and grow. It’s a place to relax and have fun. And at camps like Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca in Solon, Iowa, it’s a place to strengthen in faith.
“Camp is a place where campers can learn a Christ-centered way of life where God’s Word is front and center,” says Daniel Sanchez, director of Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca.
Campers get to experience a unique community grounded in the Christian faith. Each day begins and ends with a devotional study of the scriptures, and the staff encourages campers as they learn.
“[Our] camp has a culture of love, joy and care that is unique,” says Sanchez. “We get to do things that are far beyond average daycare, and participating in that Lutheran Christian culture causes campers to grow emotionally and spiritually.”
Summer is undoubtedly the busy season with programs like Horse Camp, Adventure Camp and Projectile Camp. Still, Io-Dis-E-Ca offers year-round retreat options for church groups, pastors’ wives and more. In more than 50 years of operation, Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca has been a blessing to the church, the LCMS Iowa District East and the community.
But all of this was suddenly placed in jeopardy with the arrival of COVID-19.
The Unknowns Ahead
Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca found itself in an uncertain situation. With in-person gatherings restricted, they knew it would be difficult to adjust, and revenue might be impacted. They had to figure out how they were going to navigate the rough waters ahead.
“Camp is in the mass-gathering business. [This meant] most of our retreat groups, especially the ones we depend on financially, would not be able to meet indefinitely,” says Sanchez.
“Our mission is too valuable for COVID-19 to shut us down permanently, so we needed to figure out how best to get to the other side.”
Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca decided to open a line of credit with Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF).
According to Sanchez, “Opening a line of credit with LCEF was a no-brainer and the first financial step we took.”
Io-Dis-E-Ca and LCEF have partnered together before, financing various expansion projects and improvements. So, it was only natural to work together to develop a financial solution during COVID-19.
Establishing a line of credit ensured that, should revenue be significantly impacted by COVID-19, the camp could stay afloat. Salaries and overhead costs would be covered for the time being, and the camp could ride out the storm and be ready to serve for years to come.
The Lord’s Faithfulness
Io-Dis-E-Ca was able to host campers during the summers of 2020 and 2021 (socially distanced, of course). We had limited campers in 2020 (about 100 Day Campers for the summer), but returned to a more full camp season in 2021 with over 450 campers for the summer between Day Camp and Resident Camp. But retreats, a vital part of maintaining financial stability for the camp, have lagged behind. Through it all, however, Sanchez has seen God’s faithfulness in the generosity of God’s people.”
Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca is only here because, by the grace of God, people have made it a priority to donate and volunteer. It’s always been true and more so in 2020. Donations came through at 150% in 2020, which is not something we could have expected when the economy was struggling.”
Now, Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca is looking toward the future. Having survived the worst of the pandemic, they are focused on what lies ahead. Over the next few years, they plan on making improvements and adjustments to the camp’s infrastructure and facilities as the needs of campers continue to evolve.
Here’s to many more years of Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca!
LCEF is a nonprofit religious organization; therefore, LCEF investments are not FDIC-insured bank deposit accounts. This is not an offer to sell investments, nor a solicitation to buy. LCEF will offer and sell its securities only in states where authorized. The offer is made solely by LCEF’s Offering Circular. Investors should carefully read the Offering Circular, which more fully describes associated risks. Lutheran Church Extension Fund-Missouri Synod. 10733 Sunset Office Drive, Suite 300, St. Louis, MO 63127-1020. 800-843-5233. lcef.org.NMLS #3444. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee (MB.0006057). Loans made or arranged pursuant to a California Law License (6037619). For more information on LCEF’s lending license go to lcef.org/state-disclosures/.