Camp Anderson and the Gift From God

This article is reprinted from the newsletter of the Church of the Redeermer, Orangeburg.

God is so good. Your vestry has just worked out an arrangement to get Camp Anderson not just restored, but vastly improved and at no cost to us.

Remember when Camp Anderson’s lake looked like the top picture?

Seven years ago, on Friday, Saturday, and early Sunday, October 2-4, 2015, Orangeburg received over 15 inches of rain causing massive flooding. The 1000-year flood overpowered our spillway, took out a portion of our dam, and it completely drained our lake.

In the years since, we’ve fought DHEC and we finally won the right to rebuild our dam. The problem is, the cost of rebuilding is prohibitive for us. The lake bed is now fully grown up and grown over with fairly large pine trees and all manner of shrubs and six-feet tall marsh weeds. Because there is still water on the property where there used to be a lake, it’s not a simple matter of cutting down the trees and adding water again. Additionally, the entire length of the dam will have to be rebuilt to current codes and substantially reinforced.

Our vestry got a few estimates from companies who do things like that and we found that we would be looking at a cost of a half-million to as much as a million dollars to fix the dam and remake the lake. Even if we could find generous donors to assist us, our vestry agreed that spending that kind of money just to give us a lake again would not be good stewardship of our resources. I completely agree with their thought.

About a year ago James Sutcliffe, who is a very good friend of vestry member Buster Way, mentioned to Buster that he’d be interested in buying the property if we ever wanted to sell. (We don’t want to sell and we won’t.) Mr. Sutcliffe owns the land on the far side of what used to be the lake as well as the property on the other side of the road from the lake, and he has the equipment and the financial acumen to rebuild it.

Being that Mr. Sutcliffe and Buster are life-long friends, Mr. Sutcliffe then made Buster a different offer that blesses Orangeburg’s Redeemer. Mr. Sutcliffe proposed that we lease him the property for 15 years, and in return he will rebuild the entire dam and bring it up to all safety codes, rebuild and restore the lake to a better condition than it has ever been, landscape the grounds, repair the Bailey building, update the entrance gate, repair the outside chapel, repair the dock and continually maintain the grounds (cutting the grass, weeding, etc.). Mr. Sutcliffe will guarantee us four regular days a year to use the camp at no cost to us and anytime that we want additional days to use the camp, all we have to do is give him advance notice. He will pay all insurance costs, utility costs, and all upkeep costs. And one other note – if either party wishes to cancel the lease at any time, we can.

In short, we retain ownership of Camp Anderson, we get to use the camp anytime we want to, and Mr. Sutcliffe will take care of all the upkeep and all future expenses, and he will rebuild the lake and refurbish the buildings and property within three years.

What’s the catch? There is no catch. This is a gift from God to us for our future Redeemer generations.

Last week our vestry signed a lease agreement with Mr. Sutcliffe. If you know him, thank him for his incredible generosity to us. At the very least, thank Buster Way for moving this project forward the next time you see him. And above all, thank our Lord for making this gift to us possible and for continuing to take care of us in ways we couldn’t ever imagine. God is so Good!

By the Very Rev. John Burwell, Church of the Redeemer, Orangeburg