Fund grows for Canyon cabins


Summer campers cool off in the pool.
Proposed floor plan for a cabin at Canyon

By Holly McCray

Fundraising to build two cabins at Canyon Camp exceeds the halfway point—an encouraging sign for an effort that began only recently and must reach its goal by Dec. 31.

For more than 50 years, Canyon’s 18 cabins have served campers. But the aging buildings have become sorely outdated and developed structural problems. One cabin no longer is used, due to its dilapidated state.

United Methodist Paul Milburn of Shawnee values camping ministries and has offered financial help: a matching grant of $175,000.

If equal funding from other sources is secured, a total of $350,000 will be generated to construct two cabins, each with 36 beds. The grant deadline is Dec. 31.

The match amount totaled $90,884 on Oct. 4, reported Randy McGuire, Conference director of Camp & Retreat Ministries.

Among groups and individuals already contributing to the match are Shattuck United Methodist Church and the Petree Foundation.

On average, Canyon annually hosts 180 groups, more than 8,000 campers, reported David Combs, manager at the camp.

"I think this is a God-driven project," he said. "When people look within their hearts, the money will be there. People recognize Canyon has a need for new cabins."

When the original cabins opened decades ago, the primary objective was summer camping, Combs noted. Youths and children, with their adult sponsors, continue to be the guests most often housed in the cabins. But now Canyon hosts people throughout all seasons.

"We’ve adapted (the cabins), but they’re not really insulated," Combs said.

Campers housed today in the oldest cabins encounter Army-surplus bunk beds, cracked foundations, aged plumbing, and window-unit air conditioning. Most recently, severe weather—flooding, tornadoes—and even an earthquake have aggravated the deterioration of years.

"The cabins have definitely served their ministry purpose. Rather than spend money remodeling, we need to quit putting BandAids on and build new," Combs said.

He spoke excitedly about the interior design for the new cabins.

Programming and housing can be self-contained for a church’s youth group, up to 36 people, with a common meeting room and separate sleeping/bathroom areas for males and females. A quilting or scrapbooking group can reserve a new cabin and focus its work there.

The new construction will include central heating/cooling and also comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, Combs said.

"Updated, energy-efficient cabins with additional meeting places will allow Canyon Camp to have more space to accommodate several churches or organizations at one time," said Rev. McGuire.

The camp facilities set amid the natural beauty of red-rock canyon walls near Hinton, west of Oklahoma City.

A section of Canyon Camp has been designated as a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Two of its five canyons contain unique plants and trees.

Contact McGuire at the United Methodist Ministry Center, 405-530-2016.

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