Gwinwood Update Jan 2020


Gwinwood received high marks from the City and State:

  • No Violations in the Kitchen
  • No Violations on Fire Maintenance (The Fire Marshall wrote on our report “Very impressed by these grounds”)

Overall, we had a very good year.  Our numbers were down, yet we were able to improve many areas on the grounds.

Events:  104                 Event Days 310             People served:  10,9444

Events:  96                   Event Days 275             People served:  8,991

2020 (booked- SO FAR)
Events:  85                   Event Days 270

We’ve had several different churches/denominations come for retreats- Buddhists, Catholics, Disciples, Men’s Recovery, St. Martins, Evergreen, several family reunions, counseling programs, quilting groups, teacher trainings, scouts, fundraising gala, LGBT retreat, and even a couple weddings.


All the flooring has been delivered, and we are in the process of removing the carpet in Westwood. This should completed by mid January! The Conference Center looks great and will certainly be a healthier, more attractive space for gathering.

Thanks to support from the Zephyr Heritage Fund, our Challenge Course is starting to show some life! We have completed a layout and purchased some materials. Once the flooring in Westwood is completed we will finish the Challenge Course. The goal is to be completed by the end of February. We are confident that neighboring businesses, youth groups, military, YMCA, and other groups will be using this area for team building and fun.


Our project list is still growing:                                                                                                 

  • Renovating the Chalet- for silent retreats and small groups
  • New Tractor Port- a covering for our tractor and riding mower
  • New Shed- behind the shop for push mowers, chipper and log splitter


I’ve been working with the Lacey History Museum this past year, learning the history and tracking the use of the Gwinwood grounds. We had a very robust beginning, however in the mid 1960’s there was a shift. Gwinwood manager, James Pfouts, (Sept 1, 1966 – June 1, 1968) noticed a decline in conferences and numbers attending. For the next 10 years, there was a growing demand for retreats, mostly serving non-Christian groups.

When I arrived in 2017, there were very few records left. My first order of business was to connect with many of you, the Church Owners. I heard of the overwhelming feeling that there wasn’t space for you here at Gwinwood. And you were correct.

A roll over deposit system without contracts guaranteeing the same weekend year after year to the same small groups had been implemented. Thirty-five weekends were “booked” leaving very little room for Disciples or new guests. This system was clearly not sustainable.

My first three years here have been mostly getting the grounds and buildings back in shape and up to code. Now it is time for growth.

After researching other Disciples camps nationally and conference centers in the area, I found that 26 camps/conference centers similar to Gwinwood are on the market, and over 450 similar campgrounds are for sale. I have spoken with other Managers and Directors who repeatedly have told me that the way to maintain is to offer programming.

Moving to our own programming was proposed to, and accepted by, the Board of Trustees and then the General Board at the Annual Meeting. We have agreed that several weeks in the summer will be saved for Summer Camps, and the rest of the year will be Gwinwood-led programming. We have set a growth timeline over the next three years to re-evaluate.
Program ideas:

  • Healthy Boundaries
  • Anti-Racism Training
  • Spiritual Practices
  • Reconciliation Trainings
  • Military in Transition
  • Sabbaticals
  • Church Leadership Trainings/Retreats
  • Spiritual Needs
  • Colleges
  • Specialty Camps
    • Autism
    • Physically Challenged
    • LGBT Youth
    • Yoga, Tai Chi

Our first Program was a Silent Retreat on the second weekend of January, led by the Rev Dr. Amy LaCroix and Dr. Lisa Rayburn. All who attended experienced great insight and growth. Everyone is looking forward to the next one.

Gwinwood has so much to offer to our community. By adding our own programming, we will become more sustainable and able to reach out into our community with the hope of making Gwinwood a destination stop, if only for an afternoon.


We thank Trustees Amy LaCroix, Rochelle Richards, and Lanny Shuman for their service on our Board of Trustees. They all have been instrumental in the progress made at Gwinwood these last three years. Enjoy your rest and you will be missed!

We welcome Rachel Crum to our Board of Trustees, and I am currently seeking volunteers for our new “Working Board” which will begin meeting next month.

I’ve spoken to several Disciple Owner Churches this year, and would like to speak with others (Pulpit fill?). Please don’t hesitate to contact me, if you would like to hear more about Gwinwood. Feel free to come for a visit and take a look around. Gwinwood belongs to you, and the staff are eager to get to know you!

And remember- all donations are tax-deductible (and really do help bring camping ministries to our Disciples Youth).

More in three months!
Kate Ayers
Executive Director

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