Skyview Ranch - Christian Camp in Millersburg, Ohio

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SVR Statement - 8/25/17

8/28/17

Dear Ministry Friends:    

We are writing today to communicate about a heart-breaking situation at Skyview Ranch that occurred during summer camp.  This event was the subject of an article in the August 25 edition of the Wooster Daily Record in which it was reported that a Skyview counselor has been accused of inappropriately touching three boys while serving as their counselor.

Upon learning of this initial allegation on August 3, camp leadership took immediate action to protect all of the children at the Ranch by isolating the counselor in the interim director’s office.  They then called the appropriate authorities as well as the parents of the children directly involved.  Since August 3, Skyview has fully cooperated with the Holmes County Sheriff’s office and will continue to do so as they continue their comprehensive investigation that includes contact with many other parents of campers from throughout the summer.

On August 25, Skyview responded to the newspaper article on both Facebook and on our web site.  While this has seemed to some to be an unacceptable delay, it would not have been appropriate for the Ranch to issue a statement that may have compromised the investigation.   It is important to note that law enforcement on the scene from the beginning and through the entire investigation has been complimentary of the actions taken by Ranch leadership during this event.  They have also noted the thoroughness of the Ranch’s employment screening practices – and that we have followed all of written procedures.

Camper safety has been our utmost concern since the Ranch was founded in 1969.  Camp leadership is, again, reviewing policies and procedures to look for any ideas that could help to further increase camper safety.  We often have two staff members in the cabins at night when young campers are on the property – something that not every camp does.  Unfortunately, these actions occurred in the daytime when summer support staff were busy at their ‘posts’.  It was, however, Skyview’s open-door policy that empowered a staff person to report what was heard from campers.

As mentioned, this is a heart-breaking situation.  Skyview has always and continues to have the utmost concern for camper safety and the full-time staff and the board are crushed by the mere possibility of something like this possibly happening.  We have always been transparent regarding our policies on hiring summer counselors and we know that these policies were followed this summer.  For your review, employment of summer counselors includes all of the following:

  • Extensive application
  • Multiple interviews with full-time staffers
  • Comprehensive background checks
  • Letters of reference from 3 individuals (one must be their pastor)
  • They are typically Christian college students (as was the case here)
  • And, once hired, they go through 80+ hours of counselor training prior to camp starting


Just prior to August 3, the board had received a great report from our Interim Director stating that the summer was going exceptionally well and that the summer staff was one of the best ever.  Thus, the allegations concerning this counselor shocked the board as it may you today.  Skyview has never experienced anything like this in its history and we are appreciative that the newspaper article seems to hold Skyview up as favorably as possible in a situation such as this. 

While we, as the Ranch board and staff, are working hard to do everything possible to keep it from ever happening again, we are equally concerned about the campers that were impacted by this individual’s actions.  We would appreciate:

  • Your prayers for healing for these campers and their families. 
  • Your prayers for the Ranch – that the positive ministry outcomes of this summer would not be overshadowed by the actions of one individual.
  • Finally, we value your trust and ministry partnership and look forward to serving you in the future.


Please feel free to call us if you wish to ask additional questions or have comments.   You may talk with:

Erin Bullington                                                                               Rod Johnson

Interim Director                                                                            Chairman of the Board

330-674-7511                                                                                937-766-4114


Sincerely,

The Board of Directors and Staff of Skyview Ranch

 



8/25/17

As reported in the newspaper today, a summer camp counselor has been accused of inappropriately touching boys while serving as their counselor in the final week of summer camp. Upon learning of this allegation, camp leadership took immediate action to protect all of the children involved, to call appropriate authorities, and to call the parents of the children directly involved.

Skyview has fully cooperated with the Holmes County Sheriff’s office and will continue to do so. They have now finished their investigation which was reported this morning in the Wooster paper, so we are now writing to keep everyone informed. Law enforcement on the scene in the beginning and through the entire investigation has been complimentary of the actions taken by leadership at the Ranch.

Camper safety has been our utmost concern since the Ranch was founded. We often have summer staff stay in the cabins at night with the counselors when young campers are on the property. Our staff is familiar with other camps and we are somewhat unique in taking this extra step. Unfortunately, these actions occurred in the daytime when summer staff were busy at their posts.

Appropriate questions have been asked about our commitment to camper safety. The information below addresses these questions as comprehensively as we can:

Counselor and Staff Selection, training, and environment
- Careful application and interview process for all staff that includes reference checks
- Comprehensive background checks for all full-time and seasonal employees as well as for all adults living or volunteering on the property
- Intensive training of summer program staff (4-weeks) and counselors (2-weeks) that includes sessions conducted by professional counselors
- Clear policies with enforcement concerning appropriate behavior with campers, staff, and volunteers
- Open door policy that encourages camper, staff, and volunteer communication with leaders
- Any indication of inappropriate behavior is immediately investigated based on what is appropriate to the situation

Legal perspective of camp leadership
- A Camp Director is recognized as a mandatory reporter as a matter of law.
- Skyview contacts and cooperates with law enforcement and social services when appropriate.

Future Improvements
- Skyview remains open to advice from law enforcement, social services, and professional practitioners. To date, these professionals have been complimentary of current practices while helping us with re-evaluation.
- Camp leadership routinely evaluates other camps to determine if there are additional best practices that can be adopted.

This is a heartbreaking event, but we wanted to communicate with clarity. We continue to be thankful for all God is doing at the ranch through the staff, seasonal staff, and volunteers at the ranch. Skyview values each camper as we focus on service, excellence, creativity and relationships. Camper safety has been and will remain a focus.

 



View the Wooster Daily Record article here.

Skyview Ranch
7241 Township Road 319
Millersburg, OH 44654
Phone: 330-674-7511    Fax: 330-674-4606
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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