Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee May Close Camp Webb

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to a preservation group called PreserveCW, the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, unless convinced otherwise, may sell an ecologically diverse camp property in Waushara County to commercial developers. Consideration of a sale has begun just five months after ceasing operation of Camp Webb at the Wautoma, Wisconsin property. Camp Webb had been a religiously-based camping program there since 1961. The camp property of 135 acres contains a diverse mixture of deciduous woods, pine woods, beachfront, swampland, grasslands and prairie fields.

The diocese’s Executive Council discussed the possibility of sale in early May after receiving a report from diocesan officials who had met with a commercial developer to discuss potential development of condominiums. A formal vote to put the camp up for sale is the first agenda item for June 5th Executive Council meeting. After learning of the situation, PreserveCW, a group formed to preserve the camp, asked supporters to contact Bishop Steven Miller and Executive Council members to ask that they seriously consider non-commercial options for the camp before considering sale to commercial interests.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)

Posted May 31, 2008 at 5:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. MikeS wrote:

Thanks for posting this Kendall.

Bp Miller has a response on the front page of the Milwaukee Diocese webpage.

He makes it clear he wants to sell the property and accuses PreserveCW as fomenting misinformation in an unChristlike manner.  Given his expressed desire to sell the property, I’m not certain that is the case.

He also believes that finding a place for outdoor ministry more central to the diocese would be a better idea due to the price of gas.  Unfortunately, this would mean leaving outdoor ministry for the diocese in the increasingly suburban sprawl of the Milwaukee-Madison corridor (where land prices are high), unless he intends to move out to the western edge of the diocese along the Mississippi River which is farther away from the Milwaukee/Racine hub than Camp Webb.

Given Bp Miller’s statements it would seem that he finds more in common with the diocese of Chicago’s approach than with how folks in Wisconsin approach the outdoors.  Summer is short in Wisconsin and my observation of other family members and friends, leads me to conclude that gas prices do not appear to have slowed down the annual trek into the Northwoods for most families.

Of course, if the number of Illinois license plates heading north into Cheese country every summer is any indication, the people in Illinois would rather be up north in the woods than in the suburban sprawl as well.

May 31, 6:11 pm | [comment link]
2. Statmann wrote:

Is it not a bit naive to question that the diocese wants to sell to a commercial developer? To find the motivation, just follow the money.

May 31, 10:04 pm | [comment link]
3. nwlayman wrote:

This is something that is old news:  Church camps have to be protected from diocisan treasurers.  In the Diocese of Olympia many years ago, they had a 100 acre parcel donated by a priest.  He specified it was theirs *as long as* it was a camp for kids.  He also retained title to a broad swath of the land; no decision regarding it was made without his OK.  That’s the only reason they still have a camp.
At least for now.  The Episcopal Church values real estate more then kids (remember, they’re alot smarter than you and have fewer children).

June 1, 6:51 pm | [comment link]
4. Alta Californian wrote:

Where’s the PB and her socio-environmental crusade now?  Not a peep out of her when money is involved. 

#3, they also have to be protected from bishops, which is much, much harder.  One of +Itty’s last acts was to sponsor the sale of Oregon’s camp.  Many years ago +Clarence Haden up and decided to sell the prime lakefront portion of our diocesan camp at Lake Tahoe.  Now the kids have to walk down and around to a public beach, and the view is blocked by million dollar cabins on land that is now darn near priceless.  And it is often said around the diocese it is simply because he didn’t like his successor or what he might do with that beautiful land.

June 1, 10:11 pm | [comment link]
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