November 22, 2023

Former Camp Counselor Gives Back in a Big Way!

The 1979 Gilmont Summer Staff team, with Spradlin pictured second from the right. ​
The 1979 Gilmont Summer Staff team, with Spradlin pictured second from the right. ​

Gilmont’s Capital Campaign, ​“Strengthening Roots and Stretching Branches” is starting strong with a lead gift of $1.5 million made by summer staff alumni, Ronald “Ronnie” Spradlin, III – Mayor of Kilgore, Texas!  The campaign is in its “Leadership Phase” – in preparation for the official launch of the Public Phase in 2024! Ronnie has deep connections with Gilmont as a staff alumni, a former board member, and a long-time supporter of the camp. He has graciously provided lumber and resources for many projects over the years.

Ronnie fondly recalls serving as an overnight camp counselor in the summer of 1979. “It was an amazing week filled with laughter and tears, as well as deep conversations about life and faith,” shared Ronnie.  The theme was “Be Positive” and everyone at the camp was given 20 dry beans and if someone caught you saying something negative you had to give them one of your beans. He recalled a clever camper asking if he could build a fire in the middle of their campground – hoping that Ronnie would tell him “No” and have to give him a bean.  Instead, Ronnie told the camper that he COULD build a fire – in the firepit!

Mayor Spradlin is positive that Gilmont has made a huge difference in his life and the lives of countless people that have grown closer to God, creation, others, and themselves because of their experiences at Gilmont. Ronnie says, “Gilmont has always been a sacred place where children and adults can get away and feel the presence of God.”

The generous gift aligns with Gilmont’s newly adopted strategic plan and helps launch a capital campaign that will include a new lodge with 20 hotel style rooms, new staff housing, and improvements to existing facilities. As Gilmont’s programs and partnerships have increased in recent years, these additions will increase Gilmont’s capacity to bring in larger groups as well as to host multiple smaller groups at the same time.

Mayor Spradlin has served on Gilmont’s Board of Directors in the past and with great enthusiasm shared his support for Gilmont’s future with his commitment to give 1.5 million dollars over the next few years. This lead gift is not only the largest gift that Mr. Spradlin has given to an organization; it will also be the largest financial commitment from a single donor in Gilmont’s 83 years of ministry.

While this capital campaign is still in its early stages, Gilmont has received commitments ranging from $5,000 to $150,000, in addition to Mayor Spradlin’s commitment of 1.5 million dollars. These generous commitments are sure to inspire others to give generously as Gilmont seeks to invite more guests to connect with creation, have some fun, grow in faith, and develop lifelong friendships.

Spradlin (left) pictured with his campers - ready to "BE POSITIVE" - in the summer of 1979.