Due to loss of all our retreats in spring, the necessity of delaying the start of summer camp and lower registration numbers due to the COVID crisis, New Life has been financially impacted in a way never experienced in 62 years of ministry. We have responded by cutting spending, budget reductions and most recently have been forced to eliminate our Adventure Education program and close the Colcord Launch Center in neighboring Colcord, OK. This also meant the elimination of 15% of our full time staff. In response to all of this, we have chosen to reframe our fundraising efforts for this year into a Ministry Recovery Fund. The following areas outlined below are those that we wish to address with this fund.
The majority of the recovery fund is to address the projected $1.5/7M revenue loss that all of the expense mitigation thus far does not alleviate. For that reason we need to raise $600,000.00 for our General Fund to replace funds for general operations. This is not something we normally seek support for as our operations revenue typically covers those expenses. New Life Ranch has always operated debt free in its 62 years of ministry and even though we have been extended a line of credit, we have not used it to date and wish to avoid it if at all possible. This infusion would allow us to continue this year without the need to make deeper and possibly damaging cuts to our ministry.
One of the foundational principles of New Life Ranch is that we never allow finances to be a barrier for a child to attend camp. For that reason, we annually raise funds for the Mission 19:14 Camper Scholarship Fund to aid families and those that could not otherwise attend camp. Last year we awarded over $550,000 in scholarships due in some part to our expanded capacity. On average, 1 in 5 campers are receiving some level of assistance. With the financial impact that COVID has created for many families, we are experiencing additional needs this year. Additionally, due to shelter-in-place, and gathering limitations that COVID created, we were unable to have our spring fundraising dinners. Whereas, we would normally start the summer with roughly half of our scholarship funding, these restrictions have put us behind in those efforts.
The Chapel is the centerpiece of Flint Valley and continues to be an important part of guests’ experience at that site. The front of the chapel has been the feature of numerous memorial photos as far back as its building in 1961. We will be addressing the structure as part of the next multi-phased, capital campaign, but it was an immediate necessity to update and restore the approach of the Chapel. This is due to grade and drain changes related to the new dining hall complex that have impacted the approach to the Chapel. In its condition prior to camp starting, it presented a risk to campers, and did not accommodate accessibility requirements for those with handicaps. The redesign improves general appearance, alleviates maintenance issues that have long existed and greatly improves handicap accessibility.
When you think ranch, you think horses, and horses have been an important part of the New Life Ranch experience since the beginning. Regrettably, we were almost forced to cut this longstanding program due to the financial impact of the COVID crisis in conjunction with the two other programs we did eliminate. The program has long served as a support program to ministry, but has typically run in deficit. The recent financial pressure has forced us to re-evaluate how we make the program sustainable and are working on developing a plan that would allow it to function in a break even capacity or better, and still support the ministry of New Life Ranch. The infusion of funding would allow us to sustain the program for the balance of 2020 and reposition it with some new externally facing programming that will generate more revenue as we move through the balance of 2020 and into 2021.
The waterfront and swim area at Flint Valley is a major tradition of the camp and the hub of water activities during the summer months and year round for canoeing and fishing. Unfortunately, due to flooding the past number of years, large deposits of gravel have been washed down the creek and is now limiting use of the canoe dock and threatening to leave the swim area unusable. Additionally, the dam and spillway system that has been in place for many years has also been repeatedly compromised and poses an immediate risk to the viability of this important feature of camp. To address this, we have been in discussions with state agencies about the need to service the creek and build new infrastructure that would maintain the proper level to sustain activities, endure and allow us to better manage the flooding on Flint Creek. We have been granted approval to proceed from those agencies, which offers a window of opportunity to address this critical need. Timing is important on this project. This will require a staged approach and ultimately the construction phase of this project will be part of the next capital improvement campaign for the ranch. However, to understand cost, we need to invest now in the maintenance and engineering portion in order to consider the entire scope of the project. Without this investment, we foresee the possibility of closing the waterfront, near term, for an indefinite period.