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Camp History and Background

Disciples Center at Tawakoni, Augusta KS

FAQ - The History & Background Information

The Vision and Purpose

The Disciples Center is a place where we:
Welcome all people with the Love of Jesus Christ, help them to…
Encounter God through nature, solitude and Christian community, and…
Send them out to serve the world in love.

The Disciples Center at Tawakoni
is owned and operated by the Christian Church in Kansas. The 177-acre camp was purchased from the Boy Scouts in 2004 after extensive research and planning by a team of church members representing broad perspectives and several communities.

The Importance of Outdoor Ministries, also known as summer church camp
A major study of six mainline denominations entitled Effective Christian Education, funded by The Lilly Foundation, determined that “the single most effective programmatic influence on a young person’s growth toward mature faith is the summer church camp experience.”

The future of the church is found in leadership. Leaders, both clergy and laity, emerge from camp experiences. Both youth and adult leaders find their lives significantly impacted by the summer camp experience.
With this in mind, the Camp Study Committee determined it was most advantageous to own and operate a camp facility instead of renting from others. Other regional programs could also use the camp facilities, pulling together the congregations of the entire Kansas Region.

From two camps, at Eureka and Lyons, to one camp at Tawakoni

Previously, the Region had two camps, both developed in the early 1960s, both with significant deferred maintenance. Neither met modern expectations.
A region-wide study was conducted to determine our needs and the wishes of the congregations. Out of this, we decided to seek a single, more centrally located camp to meet the needs of the entire region.

The Regional Assembly in 2000 authorized a region-wide capital campaign, Raise Up Leaders with a target of $1.625 million. In addition to funding the future camp facility, the campaign also benefitted higher education scholarships; support of Phillips Theological Seminary (Tulsa) capital program; and established a fund to aid struggling congregations.

Camp WaJaTo near Lyons was sold in 2003, and Christian Hills near Eureka was sold in 2005. We purchased the Tawakoni property from the Boy Scouts in April 2004 when the Scouts accepted our $850,000 offer.

We took possession in the summer of 2004. The Boy Scouts had not used Tawakoni in several years. When work parties arrived they found landscape overgrown and buildings in bare bones condition, in need of cleaning, painting, and debris removal. Work parties did all of this, plus mowing and trimming trees, in order to prepare the facility for the 2005 summer camp program.

Projects accomplished before the first summer included:

  • Installation of electric, water, and sewer utilities
  • Bath units—doubling as storm shelters--were added to 3 rustic cabins
  • Swimming pool concrete was repaired, a new filtration system installed, and a fresh coat of paint applied
  • The former chapel got a new roof and became the Canteen
  • The Low Challenge Course was installed by an independent contractor
  • Heat/air systems were installed in all buildings
  • Dining Hall received new windows and a vestibule entrance, and new or new-to-us equipment was installed in the kitchen: refrigeration, icemaker, cook stoves, sinks and dishwasher
  • Small HUD house was donated by Oxford Christian Church and moved to the campsite to serve as Clergy Cottage and summer housing for the cook
  • Outdoor study shelters were built
  • Two outdoor fire pits were recovered and seating was built
  • Picnic shelter was established in former gun range, and tables were built
  • Dock built for lake access
  • Significant remodeling was done in the Training Lodge to create an infirmary and to house the Camp Nurse and Summer Interns
  • Director's Cabin was established in former Trading Post
  • Rustic Camp sites were established where youth would sleep in tents and cook their own food—a necessity to accommodate our numbers!
  • Groups were assembled to bring usable equipment from Christian Hills

Beginning in May 2005, the first youth arrived for the summer camp program! In spite of much rain, everyone went home claiming "we have a new spiritual home at Tawakoni!"

Improvements since the first year:

  • Sweeden Leadership Lodge was built in 2006, a gift of Wichita First Christian Church
  • Paths were established to accommodate wheelchairs
  • A shade shelter was built at Pool
  • Cabin 2 was built, replacing one of the rustic cabins
  • Cabin 4 was built, a smaller version of Leadership Lodge, a gift of Mt. Olive Christian Church
  • High Ropes were added to Challenge Course in 2009, a gift of Mt. Olive CC
  • The former archery range was converted to an Outdoor Chapel, and worship center added in 2012
  • Dining Hall upgrades were made possible by Gala funds: ceiling, flooring, entry pergola at south entrance; circle drive
  • Recognition Plaza, recognizing participating churches and major donors, in 2012

Building Capacities:

  • Dining Hall - 200 people at round tables
  • Leadership Lodge - 40 beds in two wings; dining space for 75
  • Cabin 4 - 32 beds in two wings; dining space for 40
  • Cabin 2 - 28 beds in two wings; common space for about 30
  • Cabins 1 and 3 - 24 beds on two sides
  • All Cabins have restroom/shower facilities and are handicapped-accessible
  • All cabin bathrooms are storm shelters

Projects Anticipated:

  • Chapel to recognize Wichita First Christian Church
  • Rebuilding Cabins 1, 3
  • Outdoor Pavilion, northwest of Dining Hall

An Adult Conference Center with catering kitchen, break-out rooms and hotel-style sleeping rooms is proposed for an area south of the main camp, and a tentative design has been drawn. The estimated cost is in excess of $6 Million, placing this project out of reach for the foreseeable future.

Camp Gala supports capital improvements!

The annual Camp Gala is an opportunity for many to see the camp and to financially support the continuing development of the camp facilities. The Dining Hall was the first priority—our main facility, a symbol of hospitality and the home of excellent programming. The first Gala was held in 2006; this annual event has realized more than $139,000 over the past six years.

The 2012 Gala brought in gross receipts of about $21,000. These funds are earmarked for new seating in the Dining Hall and for a "rugged people-mover" vehicle, similar to a golf cart, expanding our accessibility for those with limited mobility.