“Building Better Boards” was the focus of the Sustainable Pathways training at the Florida Life Enrichment Center April 4-6. With a large new class of Trustees and a recent success in a grassroots fundraising effort, the Blue Lake Board was primed for this opportunity to experience the high quality training available through our camping network. Although I have attended many conferences and trainings over the years, this was a first for two board members who traveled with me. I was eager for them to meet other camp professionals and volunteers, and to experience the strong relationships we develop in this ministry. The retreat gave them a great perspective on the vital part the Board plays in our camp and its mission.
Here’s what one of them had to say:
“The Sustainability Retreat helped me formulate my mission on the Board of Trustees of Blue Lake Assembly. I feel better equipped to refocus my energy and talents toward long range planning instead of involvement in day-to-day activities, which are the responsibility of the staff instead of the board. The friendships and contacts made during this retreat will be extremely helpful as we all face issues in sustaining our camping ministry in the United Methodist Church.” – Elizabeth Sandoe, Board Member
The event design team did a great job scheduling important training by Rev. Dan Hotchkiss and making time available for (always significant!) one-on-one and small group interaction.
Rev. Hotchkiss’s experience with camps and churches of all sizes gave each participant the feeling that plenty of resources are available that will apply to their situation. Large and small camp representatives including staff, Board members, and volunteers had opportunities to review their own practices, listen to the successes and challenges of others, and discuss possible solutions among experienced colleagues.
The discussions on time management in board meetings brought a lot of comments as everyone seemed to be seeking ways to be good stewards of time, and to stay on task for the issues needing attention. The process of using a consent agenda was well-received and discussed at length, as it would appear many groups struggle with the issue of staying within a time frame and giving balance time to all the issues at meetings.
One common concern seemed to be boards’ abilities to delegate management issues to staff with clear guidance so that the board can focus most of its attention on longer-term strategic challenges and opportunities. Having a yearly calendar for board responsibilities seemed such a simple yet important tool.
As always, the devotion time and worship, along with time for personal reflection and rest, focused attendees on the important perspective of our ministry as a part of God’s work in the church.
Pages of notes, a long list of reference folks and resources, and a renewed sense of commitment came home with us, and I’m excited to see this retreat as the foundation for new focus and continuing growth in our board and our ministry.
Reinventing Your Board: A Step By Step Guide to Iimplementing Policy Governance by John Carver
Phyllis Murray has shared her gifts of hospitality and connection in camping and retreat ministry since 1994 at Potosi Pines in Las Vegas, and recently at Blue Lake Assembly in Alabama. As she anticipates retiring in June, she looks forward to visiting family and friends, and volunteering in areas that hold her passion.