Sept 21 / 2021

John Knox Ranch Strategic Plan

A Plan to Guide our Ministry

Over the winter and spring of 2020-2021 the John Knox Ranch Committee completed a strategic planning process with the leadership of consultant "Run River" to help guide our work over the next few years. Below is the Summary of Recommendations. The full report/plan can be downloaded here. If you have any questions or would like to help JKR fulfill this vision please contact Executive Director, Henry Owen.

Summary of Recommendations

Mission & Identity

  • The mission of John Knox Ranch is clear, strong, and focused.
  • The mission statement focuses on Christian community and the critical context of the beauty of creation.
  • There is an ongoing need to communicate the mission to a broad group of persons; that includes both formal and informal ways of sharing the mission.
  • The mission of John Knox Ranch is nested inside the mission of Mission Presbytery. As such, John Knox Ranch is a resource for the Presbytery as it seeks to fulfill its mission.
  • John Knox Ranch seeks to work in partnership with churches and other organizations that are missionally aligned.
  • John Knox Ranch has a clear identity as a camp and retreat center.
  • John Knox Ranch is an essential part of the church, embodying the most fundamental aspects of what it means to be the church:
      • - as a ministry of Baptism and the Lord's Table,
      • - as an experience of profound community,
    • - as an intimate connection to creation,
    • - in its ability to invite persons to service
    • - and in its ability to invite and welcome persons into the life of faith.

Programs & Services

  • Program is a spectrum that includes all activities and events that John Knox Ranch offers. That spectrum includes sponsored, partnership, and hosted events.
  • Program outcomes are the specific ways of describing the impact that John Knox Ranch has in the lives of persons. The committee should continue to identify outcomes for all participants.
  • Core elements are those activities that reliably accomplish the outcomes; core elements are the building blocks of program
There are several program areas that were identified as areas to enhance:
  • Engage the food service programmatically
  • Have a greater degree of intentionality about the music program, especially for summer camp
  • Expand leadership development program
  • Strengthen the identity as a Presbyterian camp that seeks to welcome and serve everyone.
There are several strategic initiatives in the area of program:
  • Develop year-round programming for all ages
  • Continue to strengthen summer camp through increasing attendance
  • Reestablish the environmental education program, starting with a small pilot project
  • Develop an apprenticeship program for young adult
  • Establish a farm-to-table program.
Intentional program evaluation and development are critical for ongoing effectiveness.


  • Marketing objectives are designed to accomplish the mission of John Knox Ranch and are based upon meeting both financial and missional goals.
  • Marketing is a process of establishing and strengthening relationships and extending effective invitations.
  • Three specific initiatives will greatly support marketing efforts: 1) greater engagement with local congregations, 2) greater engagement with the local community, and 3) strengthening the alumni network.
  • Marketing is data-based and goal-driven. Marketing strategies are designed to address specific groups of persons. Metrics are critical to measuring progress.
  • Stories are an incredibly important part of marketing. There should be an intentional process to collect the stories of John Knox Ranch, and for leaders to become adept at sharing those stories, both formally and informally.
  • Word of mouth is among the most effective means of marketing; it can be encouraged and cultivated.
  • Content marketing can be very helpful in establishing relationships with people who come to regard John Knox Ranch as a trusted authority.
  • Incentives can help decision-makers to choose to participate in what John Knox Ranch offers
  • New events will probably need a "critical mass" of participants recruited before open registration is launched.

Organizational Capacity

Key Initiatives

  • Complete the process for establishing the conservation easement and the endowment fund.
  • Continue to strengthen alumni engagement and involvement.
  • Continue to develop a strong identity as a Presbyterian camp.
  • Increase engagement with local communities.
  • Establish a major maintenance plan, with projects and anticipated funding needs.


  • The functionality and health of the camp committee are critical to the long-term strength of John Knox Ranch.
  • The committee provides oversight to the ministry; its chief responsibilities are to: safeguard the mission, protect the assets, and increase the resources.
  • Board best practices are an effective framework for the committee. Ongoing committee development is critical.
  • Policies are a critical aspect of the committee's work.


  • Continue to develop the capacity to attract and retain skilled and dedicated staff.
  • When possible, expand the staff structure to be able to support development and growth.

Volunteer Development

  • It is critical for John Knox Ranch to apply metrics that measure the health and vitality of its volunteer program in order to continually adapt to an ever-changing culture.
  • It is vital that volunteers be honored, and their contributions and accomplishments are recognized.
  • It will be important to cultivate voluntarism especially among youth and young adults.

Fund Development

  • Fund and donor development is a fundamental component of a stable nonprofit financial system.
  • Annual funds, campership funds, and funds for special projects provide necessary resources and help to engage a wide variety of donors.
  • An active development plan will help to lay the groundwork for a future capital campaign.

Financial System

  • A strong financial framework for a small camp is 70-80% revenue from fees and 20-30% revenue from gifts and other sources of support.
  • Financial resiliency for a nonprofit is defined as the ability to weather the challenges and fluctuations that invariably happen.


  • Reliable and accurate data is critical for both management and oversight.

Site and Facilities
  • Continue a deep commitment to stewardship of the earth.
  • Finalize the remaining steps for the conservation easement.
  • Continue the work of repair and improvements that has been underway.
  • Complete projects in process or planned that enhance the site and its facilities, including a new river swim area, improving trails, habitat reclamation and conservation, and improving ventilation in the screened cabins.
  • Increase the overall capacity for campers in custodial care programs to 120, with a total guest capacity of 180-200.
  • Construct Adult/families cottages, designed to serve individuals and families. There are multiple good locations around the site.
  • Construct 2 additional duplex cabins to increase camper and guest capacity. Construct an additional Commons building to serve the Cedar Ravine / Limestone cabins.
  • Construct a new dining hall, on the bluff, in the current location of the Star Meadow cabins. Relocate the cabins. Include a service entrance from Wayside Drive.
  • Replace the Ranch House with a building that is designed to serve summer staff and guests.
  • Re-purpose the staff residence at the entrance to a Welcome Center / Office, and construct a new staff residence along Posey Ranch Road.
  • Establish a small farm for food production.