Document – Organization of the Camp and Conference Center (Apr 8, 1979)


It appears that three basic forms of organization (with, perhaps, many variations) are available for the Southeast UU camp and conference center. It can continue to be an activity and responsibility of the SUUSI Board; a separate board could be formed to handle the camp and conference center which would be responsive to the three UU districts in the Southeast; or it could be developed as a private, non-profit enterprise responsive to an independent board of trustees.

Upon consideration, it appears that this question should be dealt with in two parts: (1) how to organize during the three to five year period of formation of the camp and conference center, and, (2) how to organize after the camp and conference center is in full operation. There are many imponderables impeding a careful look now at the second part of this question; among them:

a) Whether or not the camp and conference center is actually successful
b) Its size and programming
c) The attitudes and intention of the membership and the district boards at that time (3-5 years in the future).
d) The then current status of SUUSI.

It would seem that any decision now on the second sub-question would be premature; therefore, this paper addresses itself only to the organizational structure during the years of formation of the camp and conference center and suggests that this structure be reviewed carefully at the end of that period.

Private Non-Profit Enterprise

From review of the by-laws of several UU camp and conference centers around the country, this appears to be the most common form of organization. The advantages to the formation of a private non-profit venture would be:

  • Activities could be coordinated geographically; board members and director chosen from a common area.
  • Project would sink or swim without impact on existing UU organizations.
  • Would enable the Board to devote full attention to a very different kind of enterprise.

Some of the disadvantages would be:

  • Lack of direct district involvement in camp and conference activities.
  • Currently, no supporting constituency or “membership.”
  • More difficulty in coordinating program with SUUSI Board; hence, possible competition.
  • Currently, no funding source.
  • In the short run, loss of the SUUSI management enterprise.

On balance, it would appear that this is not the appropriate organization form to be employed during the start-up period. Perhaps, it would be more attractive after a camp and conference center is operational and has developed its own constituency.

Separate Tri-District Board

It seems that the main advantage of forming a new board responsive to the three UU districts, but separate from the SUUSI Board would be to relieve the latter of juggling multiple projects concurrently. At the same time, most of the disadvantages of the private, non-profit structure would accrue in this situation.

Expansion of SUUSI Board Function

The third option would be to expand the role of the current SUUSI Board to encompass the planning and development of the new camp and conference center to a fully operational state.

The advantages in this arrangement would be:

  • Continued district involvement and control through district representatives on the Board.
  • Close programming ties between SUUSI, “Other Week(s)” and the camp and conference center.
  • Ability to use SUUSI and Other Week programming to help build a market and a constituency for the camp and conference center.
  • Limited financing to cover some start-up expense.
  • Use of the SUUSI management expertise; cross-pollination of staff.

The disadvantages are:

  • Considerable additional workload on the SUUSI Board.
  • Higher coordination expense due to geographical dispersion of the Board.
  • Places some responsibility on the districts to help achieve success.(This could also be an advantage.)

It is proposed that if this feasibility study is approved, the third form of organization be adopted; that is, the SUUSI Board’s role would be expanded to include the development of the camp and conference center. To accomplish that, two further moves are suggested:

1) A by-laws committee be formed immediately to review the SUUSI By-Laws in light of this decision.
2) A permanent camp and conference center committee of the Board be established.

Each of these ideas is discussed further.

By-Laws Revision

The SUUSI by-laws as written focus on the management and operation of a single one-week summer program for adults and children. To encompass the much broader role of overseeing UU leisure activities in the Southeast, a substantial revision is needed.

Camp and Conference Center Committee

The organization and operation of a camp and conference center is a very different, and probably much more demanding enterprise than the present SUUSI. To carry out this heavy charge, a permanent committee should be formed and charged with all activities related to camp and conference center development. While having considerable latitude, this Committee should be required to obtain Board approval prior to taking any major action, such as:

1) Engaging professional help.
2) Acquiring property or signing leases.
3) Initiating building and/or remodeling activities (including major supplies purchases).
4) Hiring staff.
5) Purchase of major equipment items.
6) Making across-the-board contacts with the SUUSI “membership” or member churches and fellowships.
7) Establishing contacts or “liaison” with other organizations, such as schools.
8) Fixing the annual program.