By: Christa Meland
On Saturday, Bishop Ough and several other Minnesota United Methodist leaders went ALL IN for the sake of sending kids to camp! They braved the cold and jumped into the frigid water of Lake Koronis in Paynesville, Minnesota, as onlookers cheered them on.
At the 2016 Minnesota Annual Conference session, a group of campers challenged Bishop Ough to show his support for Camp Minnesota by taking the plunge, and he agreed to do so if United Methodists pledged $10,000 for camp scholarships.
Because of the generosity of dozens of individuals from across the connection, that goal was exceeded; a total of $10,179 was donated for camp scholarships. Earlier this month, Bishop Ough engaged in a variety of activities to prepare for the plunge—including practicing his “primal scream” and sitting in a hot tub (watch video of his preparations).
Many asked if Bishop Ough would be wearing a dry suit for his plunge, but he braved the 35-degree water and jumped wearing just a T-shirt and swim trunks. His jump was met with applause from several dozen people gathered for the Minnesota Conference’s “Camp Chill” event. (Watch video of the plunge.)
Area Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries Keith Shew also took the plunge for the second consecutive year after donors contributed $650 for camp scholarships. Four bags of marshmallows were attached to his arms and used as “floaties.”
Rev. Nate Melcher from Hennepin Avenue UMC in Minneapolis and Rev. Matt Sipe from Delano UMC also took the plunge after members of their own congregations exceeded fundraising goals they had set. Sipe urged his congregation to give $1,500 for camp scholarships and promised to jump if they fulfilled that goal. If they doubled it, he told them he would plunge wearing a pink tutu. They gave more than $3,500—so Sipe came through with the tutu and claimed the title of the most creatively dressed jumper.
The donations pledged for Bishop Ough, Shew, and other jumpers resulted in more than $23,000 for camp scholarships. All of that money will be used to send kids to camp who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go. Funds contributed to Ough’s plunge and Shew’s plunge will go into the Camp Minnesota scholarship fund. Funds raised by individual congregations will stay within those churches and be used to help underwrite the cost of camp registration for their youth.
Camp Chill is now in its third year. Rachel Devereaux, director of youth ministries at Cross Winds UMC, and Tracy Ottenstroer, director of children’s ministries at the Maple Grove church, started the fundraising event to ensure that a lack of funds wouldn’t prevent any student from having the opportunity to experience Christ and creation. They have taken the plunge all three years. Last year, they invited other churches to join them—and Camp Chill has continued to expand ever since. Over the past three years, Camp Chill fundraising efforts have resulted in more than $44,000 for camp scholarships. Thanks be to God!
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church