November 20, 2023
During a regular meeting of the NovusWay Board of Trustees this past weekend, the board took the necessary steps to formally move to Phase 2 of the Intentional Interim CEO plan as we prepare for a permanent CEO to take the ministry into the future.
Dick Peterson has faithfully served NovusWay as Intentional Interim CEO since March 2022. He was tasked with several strategic directives for a Phase 1 organizational reset, and he has successfully led the team in making the needed changes in operations, policies, and culture that have lifted up all four camps. Today, we celebrate these accomplishments.
First and foremost, the gifts Dick brought to the ministry served to begin repairing and healing the ministry from previous turmoil. He genuinely cares for and loves this ministry and its staff.
Under Dick’s leadership, we are proud to announce that all four NovusWay camps—Lutheridge, Lutherock, Luther Springs, and Lutheranch—are now accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA)! ACA is a national organization representing camps and camp professionals of all types. ACA’s accreditation standards focus on health, safety, and risk management. They are used as benchmarks by government entities. Camps earning ACA accreditation provide public evidence of a camp’s commitment to the well-being of campers and staff. This marks the first time all our camps are accredited. Our staff and board are committed to following the industry standards in every aspect of our summer camp operation to provide the safest and best experiences for campers, families, and adults each summer.
This effort aligns with our work to move back to the basics of providing exceptional camping experiences that form faith, build community, develop leaders, and provide sabbath rest. Because of multiple initiatives, our camper numbers grew this past summer at all four sites, and summer staff applications for 2024 are outpacing recruitment efforts from previous years.
Dick’s leadership led to the addition of a much-needed Human Resources department to help care for and support the hard-working and dedicated staff of each site. He also began the work of reorganizing the finance department, an effort that continues.
Dick shares, “Two years ago, I had hoped to join the team of another outdoor ministry organization before I retired, and I believe the Lord led me to NovusWay. We have accomplished a lot to bring the ministry back and help improve the programming and facilities at each of our four camps. As we enter this next phase, I am committed to a positive transfer of leadership to a team with a great track record of helping our camps.”
We give thanks for all that Dick has accomplished in his time with the ministry. His last day with NovusWay will be December 31 of this year. We lift up his servant’s heart and extend collective gratitude for all he has accomplished. We invite you, our camp family, to join us in celebrating and thanking Dick for his faithful work.
As we move to Phase 2 of the Intentional Interim Plan, our efforts will focus heavily on rebuilding our financial position. In an effort to be fully transparent with you, our camp family, while the board has worked to pay down a significant percentage of our previous debt successfully, we are facing a current fiscal year deficit in excess of $1,000,000. Like many camps, we continue to navigate our way post-COVID and the significant effects of rising costs for operating the ministry related to food, insurance, staff, etc. While camper numbers increased over the previous summer, they fell well below projections in some areas, as did funds development revenue projections.
The board is financially leading the effort toward increasing giving to the ministry. The board members have a 100% giving rate, and we are making above and beyond gifts this year and next. To assist us with our Phase 2 financial needs, the board has contracted with GSB Fundraising. Rev. Mike Ward and Deacon Mitzie Schafer, partners with GSB, will serve as Co-Intentional Interim CEOs. They will share the position part-time while continuing to support their other clients. Dick brought them on in October of this year to help improve giving. Their additional Co-CEO work will begin today, and they will coordinate heavily with Dick in the transition.
Mike was a summer staff person and served as the Vice President for Development at NovusWay for 12 years, walking the ministry through several robust Capital Campaigns. He has worked with hundreds of nonprofits and churches to increase giving and improve strategic efforts. Mitzie served as the Executive Vice President of Epworth Children’s Home, helping increase annual giving from $1.4 million to $2.6 million in the first three years. She was also a summer staffer and the Vice President for Development at NovusWay, leading the ministry through the Light the Fire Appeal during Covid and raising $1,900,000 to pave the way for summer 2021.
“The ministry at NovusWay has been significant in my life since I was a camper at Lutherock,” said Mike. “There, I met my wife and experienced my call to ministry. The ministry continued to form me as I led the campaigns here. I’m excited to help guide the ministry in this next phase and to see where God is leading us together.”
“It is a powerful thing to move from serving on summer staff to watching my own children grow in faith and community during their own weeks as campers and now summer staff,” said Mitzie. “I have seen this community do amazing things to rally for this ministry. I look forward to partnering with our camp family to ensure our financial position matches the strength of our Christ-centered programming.”
Board President Floyd Self emphasized that this transition is part of an evolving process to strengthen NovusWay for long term success at all camps. “The challenges we have faced these last few years have led other camps to close or downsize. With Dick’s servant leadership, we just completed the best summer camp season in years, and this fall, our camps are offering a variety of programs that support and renew our faith. At our recent board meeting, we rejoiced with the amazing progress Dick has led us through on so many fronts. But as we assessed where we are and the challenges remaining, it was time to hand off the baton to the expertise of Mike and Mitzie and the GSB team for this next phase of our transition that we believe will put us in the best position to hire a permanent CEO later in 2024.”
Dick, Mike, and Mitzie are all open to answering your questions during this time of transition. We will continue to provide updates in the weeks and months ahead. For now, the board invites you to join us in celebrating the talent and passion God continues to bring to Lutheridge, Lutherock, Luther Springs, and Lutheranch. We also thank YOU, our camp family, for your continued care and support of this ministry we all share.