GLORIETA, N.M.(BP)–Swinging hammers, hanging dry wall and installing insulation may not seem like much of a vacation, but to the Campers on Mission, it’s a feeling of joy.
“We’re just a bunch of dedicated Christian folks who can do just about anything that needs to be done,” said volunteer Ken deCordova.
deCordova, who works with the CoM group sponsored by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, and more than 80 others spent more than three weeks working on projects at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center in October and November.
Campers on Mission groups also worked on projects at LifeWay Ridgecrest this fall. In October, they put up both internal and external Christmas decorations, as well as other operational help.
LifeWay Glorieta in New Mexico and LifeWay Ridgecrest in North Carolina are owned and operated by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The Glorieta group primarily worked on remodeling Chaparral Hotel. They stripped paneling from the walls, installed insulation, removed old carpeting, added new lighting and other jobs to get the hotel ready for guests.
The 61 volunteers who worked on Chaparral donated 3,396.5 hours to the job.
Conservatively, the market price for their work would be about $10 an hour, deCordova said. “I know we’re worth that,” he quipped. Doing the math, that says the CoM saved Glorieta almost $34,000 in labor costs for the job.
Randy Bagamary, Ridgecrest’s facility management section manager, said the Campers on Mission working at Ridgecrest in October donated 173 hours of labor, for a savings of more than $1,700.
deCordova and his wife, Fran, are members of Meadow Wood Baptist Church in Midwest City, Okla. They have been involved with Campers on Mission in Oklahoma since its beginning in the fall of 1976, when he was selected its first president. Currently he serves as the volunteer CoM consultant and Fran is the BGCO’s volunteer literacy consultant.
“I don’t do a lot of the actual construction work,” deCordova said. “I mostly do the organizing, getting the groups together. Bob Martin is more hands-on than I am.”
Martin, a member of Highland Park Baptist Church in Duncan, Okla., is the team leader for Oklahoma CoM.
“My job is to keep ahead of the other people so that they always have something to do,” he said. Keeping the volunteers busy can be a hard job. With so many people working, coordination is crucial.
Martin, who retired in 1983 from the oil fields, said he began volunteering with CoM in 1976 and learned construction skills as he went along.
“I just like to work,” he said. “We’ll do anything that needs doing. We’ve remodeled parsonages, built churches, done VBS and Backyard Bible Clubs … just anything we’re asked to do.”
Byron Hill, LifeWay’s national conference centers director, said, “It’s been wonderful having the Campers on Mission at Glorieta and [LifeWay] Ridgecrest. There has been a significant financial saving for us. If we didn’t have them here, we’d either have to use internal conference center people, which would mean something else wouldn’t get done, or we’d have to hire someone from off site to do the work, and that would be so expensive.”
Martin said he was uncertain when or if the CoM from Oklahoma would be called on again to work at Glorieta. “The Campers on Mission from west of the Mississippi work on Glorieta, and the ones east of the Mississippi work on Ridgecrest,” he said. “We’ll just be available for whatever the Lord calls us to do.”
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: BUILDING A LEGACY and WORKING VACATION.