August 9. 2016
Dear Camp and Retreat Parents,
As the chairperson of the Board of Camp and Retreat Ministries, I am both saddened and dismayed to have to make this announcement to you all.
James Parkhurst, former Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries, after having been placed on administrative leave by the Executive Committee of the Board of Camp and Retreat Ministry, has resigned. These actions are a result of his arrest on August 2 by federal officials for alleged criminal conduct. Although we do not know the specifics, we know the charge relate to of child pornography. As terrible a breach of trust as this charge is, we understand it is not related to his duties in the Oregon-Idaho Conference or our Camp and Retreat Ministries program. Although he was arrested in Portland, Parkhurst is being transferred to Colorado for his arraignment.
Parkhurst was hired in April of 2015 after a nationwide search. Previously he was the Director of Outdoor and Retreat Ministries in the Detroit Conference for five years. At his hiring the conference did a background check, including criminal background. As Executive Director, Parkhurst oversaw the staff and operation of the conference’s six campsites. In that role, he did not interface with campers on a regular basis and was not in direct supervision of campers. Each camp facility is supervised by an onsite director who leads staff and oversees onsite program and usage.
I realize that there is little that is reassuring about this news.
However, the board wants to reiterate to you that safety of campers is the highest priority of the Camp and Retreat Ministry program. Polices and guidelines have been in place and will continue to be in place to assure that camp experiences are places of physical and emotional safety for all involved. These include in-depth screening and selection process of all of our paid and volunteer site staff, extensive child-safety training by our on-site directors, and a minimum standard of 2-deep adult supervision for campers. We follow the industry-wide standards of the American Camping Association for evaluating staff and protecting campers.
Please know that the board working to support the on-site directors and staff to maintain our high standards for the safety of your children.
If you have questions about safety at any of our camp or retreat facilities, our on-site camp directors are the best resource to hear about how children are kept safe. You can reach them at the numbers listed on our website, gocamping.org. Also feel free to share your questions or concerns with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-999-2142.
Peace to you,
David Armstrong, Board of Camp and Retreat Ministries Chair