In Memoriam: Peter Bergstrom (1946-2018)

It is with great sadness that we share that Peter Bergstrom, founding member of Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers, its Executive Director for nine years, and Executive Director of Camp Stevens for forty, died on Christmas Eve.

Peter was the 2012 recipient of ECCC's Hero of Camping Ministry award, a visionary and empowering leader of camping and retreat ministries, an advocate for our outdoor places, an incredible mentor, curious traveler, supportive friend, and wonderful partner to Vicki.

If you wish to send a card, the address is 1038 Orchard Lane, Julian, CA 92036. In lieu of flowers, donations to any of the following would support work that was close to Peter's heart: Camp Stevens, Volcan Mountain Preserve Foundation, and James Hubbell's Ilan-Lael Foundation.


Peter Lodge Bergstrom

A person of boundless curiosity and joy in exploration, Peter Bergstrom was equally inspired by nature and by his fellow humans. As directors for 40 years of Camp Stevens Episcopal Camp and Conference Center in Julian, CA, he and his wife Vicki created what they called “a peaceful place apart” where people from all over the world could come to appreciate the beauty of the natural world and experience a sense of community with others.

After attending UC Santa Barbara in the late 60’s, Peter joined VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) in Chicago, where he met Vicki when the volunteers were all recalled to the downtown YMCA during rioting in the aftermath of Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination. Thrown together in this time of upheaval, they became engaged within six weeks of meeting, and were married on September 2, 1968—Peter’s 22nd birthday.

As a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, he, along with Vicki, did two years of alternative service with the Church of the Brethren Volunteer Service in Germany and in Greece working on projects furthering international relations and youth development. After returning to the US, Peter completed his degree in Anthropology at UCSB in 1972, and while there saw a job posting for a camp executive director position in the small town of Julian. He and Vicki decided to try it out for “a year or two” and the rest, as they say, is history.

During his time at Camp Stevens, Peter developed a wide variety of programs, from the “adventure group” style of summer camp, to Outdoor Education for school groups, to adult retreats. Wilderness exploration trips to Baja and the Sierras, international travel for students and adults, and recruitment of staff from many countries added to the richness of the Camp Stevens experience.

His efforts also expanded the area of the camp, preserving an additional 200 acres of wilderness for future generations of campers. Several new buildings were constructed and older ones modernized, and after the Angel Fire of 2007, which destroyed twelve structures, he gathered support to further rebuild and improve.

Broadening his interest and influence in the world of camping, Peter was a founding member of the Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers organization, and later served as its Executive Director for nine years until his retirement in 2015. He was also a leader in environmental stewardship within the Episcopal Church, and in recognition of his service he was named an Honorary Canon of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. Camp Stevens was also designated a Jubilee Center by the Diocese of San Diego, for its “extraordinary transformational efforts” within the community.

Peter was also a dedicated citizen of the town of Julian, serving on the school board and helping to organize the Julian Wild & Scenic Film Festival among other community events. Most far-reaching was the founding of the Volcan Mountain Foundation in 1987, which to date has helped to preserve more than 30,000 acres of land as the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve.

In his free time, Peter was always out exploring the world—planning trips overseas with friends and family, fishing and hunting throughout Baja and California, and having adventures with his children, Jenne and Erik. He had a lifelong interest in progressive politics and activism, and worked on many campaigns from local to national, most recently as a founding member of the Julian chapter of the Indivisible movement.

His many friends and colleagues remember his warmth, compassion and generosity, his love of great conversations and good food, his dry sense of humor, and most especially his uninhibited joy in singing and dancing. Peter died after a long series of illnesses, surrounded by his family, in a beautiful place that he loved. He would have liked to have more time to explore this world, but his favorite thing was always a new adventure, and as Peter Pan said, “to die will be an awfully big adventure.”

Peter Bergstrom is survived by his wife, Vicki Bergstrom, his children Jenne Bergstrom and Erik Bergstrom, his daughter-in-law Erin Pitts, and his brother Kip Bergstrom and sister Robin McCormick.



Staffing Update -- December 2018

Dear ECCC Members,

The Board of Directors of ECCC is committed to carry out our mission to sustain and enhance the ministry of all camps and conference centers of the Episcopal Church. After months-long work, we have begun a management restructuring that will aim to strengthen ECCC for the future. Change is never easy and is not taken lightly or without extreme care. Any change is only addressed through living into our mission.

Today, we thank Bill Slocumb, Director, for his commitment to ECCC. He has been an important part and strong advocate of the mission of this organization. He supported Peter Bergstrom, former Executive Director, as the organization expanded and offered more services to the membership. When Peter retired and Bill became Director, Bill ensured that the level of services offered by ECCC continued. I am thankful to Bill for his service, passion and dedication. The position of Director will no longer be part of our organizational structure and Bill will leave the organization at the end of December.

The board has determined it is time again to have an Executive Director; a strategic leader to further the mission of ECCC who can lead us in visioning for the future. Soon, the board will conduct a nationwide search for an Executive Director and we will send that announcement and job description to you. As of December 12, Patty Olson-Lindsey, former Executive Director of Ascension School in the Diocese of Eastern Oregon, has agreed to be our Acting Director for six months or until the search is complete. Ashley Graham-Wilcox remains as Director of Communications. Patty can be reached at or (541) 280-2505. I am also available at or (707) 433-2440 x105.

As our core values direct us, we will continue to nurture, foster, strengthen, and advocate for all camp and conference center ministries within the Episcopal Church. I ask that you keep Bill and ECCC in your prayers during this transition. We count on your continuing support.

In Peace, 

Jack Dowling 
President, ECCC Board of Directors

The Update: With You on Your Journey


In Memoriam, W. Kent Cooper (1926-2018)

W. Kent Cooper, A.I.A. (1926-2018)
Contributed by the Rev. Jack Andersen, ECCC’s founding Executive Director, 1988-2005

Episcopal Camps & Conference Centers has lost a great cheerleader, gifted architectural artist, and friend, Kent Cooper. He has died at the age of 91. Over most of the span of my involvement and leadership of ECCC, Kent Cooper had been a part of my consultative team in the planning and/or design work of more than thirteen diocesan camps and centers of the Episcopal Church. His efforts from 1972 to 2004 stretched from coast to coast. Kent had also been a featured speaker at an Annual Conferences and was honored by ECCC at our Meeting in 2008.

I first met Kent in 1966 when he was recommended as the architect to undertake a Master Plan for St. John’s Chapel, a part of Christ Church, Greenwich, Connecticut where I was at the time Vicar. Kent had already designed several Episcopal churches in the Washington/Maryland area and was deeply involved in his parish church, Saint John’s, Georgetown, as well as within the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

He had earned his undergraduate degree in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and while completing a Master’s Degree in Architecture at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Cooper became a protégé of the famous American architect, Eero Saarinen. Following his graduation, Saarinen hired Cooper and placed him as the overseer of Saarinen’s construction of the Washington Dulles International Airport. Kent’s reputation rocketed from there.

Kent’s firm, Cooper-Lecky Architects, would become the “architects of record” for the actual construction of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. At the time the young architectural student at Yale, Maya Lin, did not yet have her license, and they worked together to complete that historic project. Later, Cooper-Lecky Architects won a national competition to design the Korea War Memorial. Cooper’s firm had proposed a strikingly bold and poignant bronze design of an infantry platoon in the rice patties of Korea. One can see uncertainty and fear in the glances of those figures in bronze faces as they seemed to proceed into the unknown that was Korea.  

Kent’s professional career would leave its mark on other widely diverse projects such as a DC Metro Station, the Vice President’s residence, Blair House, the Aquarium at the Baltimore Zoo, St. Paul’s Church on Capitol Hill, and private day schools and military buildings. The Washington Post in its obituary said of Cooper that “as one of a handful of architects who midwifed architectural modernism into Washington, he helped drag the District’s obsession with antiquated building design kicking and screaming into the light of the 20th century.”

Yet as Kent Cooper, the Episcopalian, his passion was always about people and their creative spaces; places like camps for kids and conference centers for adults of all ages. It was here, at “homes away from home,” as he put it, that his keen, loving sense of people would come to the fore.

I’ve tried to reconstruct a list of camp & conference center project that Kent and I did together on behalf of ECCC. I’m sure the list is incomplete but if you visit one of these sites, or now happen to be its director, look for some architectural expression of this man’s enduring love for people in relationship to one another.

One remains at Roslyn, the Virginia Diocesan Center, in Richmond, Virginia, a “sculpture” that is located in the lower level of Gibson Hall. There you will find a “conversation pit,” aptly named for a period during the 1970s when American adults were re-discovering one another on weekend retreats. It was another Kent Cooper original!

During my professional career as a consultant to Episcopal camps and conference centers, I worked with architectural firms all across the country. It was Kent Cooper’s focus on people and their interactions that made his work such an architectural gift to America.


•          Roslyn (Dio. Of VA)

•          Camp Capers (Dio. Of W. TX)

•          Thompson House (St. Louis, MO)* 

•          The Summit (Greensboro, NC)* 

•          Claggett Center (Dio. Of Maryland)

•          Crossroads (Dio. Of NJ)

•          Christ the King (Dio. of Albany)

•          Diocese of Pittsburgh*

•          Camp Galilee (Dio. Of Nevada)

•          Waycross (Dio. Of Indianapolis)

•          Grace Point (Dio. Of East Tenn.)

•          DuPont Memorial House (Dio. Of Delaware)

 *Incomplete or closed


Announcing ECCC's Hero of Camping Ministry

On July 9, at General Convention in Austin, Texas, Bishop Brian Prior presented Lisa Kimball, Associate Dean at Virginia Theological Seminary the 2018 Hero of Camping Ministry Award. Watch the video here.

Lisa's remarks:

The funny thing is in 1988 [when ECCC was founded], I was not in third grade, I was well out of college and on my way into the vocation that I claimed very dearly, as a lay Christian formation leader, now Associate Dean of Virginia Seminary.

What I just want to say to all of you is it's never too late. I actually never went to summer camp as a kid, because I grew up in Europe, and they didn't send me to summer camp. So, my first experience of summer camp was as an adult, and was being brought in as a volunteer camp counselor, and it has truly changed my life, as well as all the conferences and convention meetings, and leadership events that we've held at Camp and Conference Centers across the Episcopal Church. I don't know if any of you put your stickers on the map, in the ECCC booth, but I ran out one sheet, and I had to go into another sheet because so many of our host facilities have been great places of my learning.

What I do want to commend us to recognize, is that the immersive experience in Christian formation, that happens when people have the privilege of time away, time in a quiet place with God, time in community with others in a Christian context, is essential for all of us in the 21st century. We move quickly, we think fast, we are hyper-connected, and if you could see my shirt, it says "Log on, crash and reboot." The log on is a fireplace, the crash is a tent, and the reboot are some hiking boots.

I commend to you the issues of access, and support for our Camp and Conference Ministries, for some cultural communities, going to summer camp is not a normative experience. So, for us to assume that everyone wants to go, or understands the benefit thereof, is naive. But, there are ways for us to invite people into that experience appropriately. Perhaps, a one day, half day, family event at your local Camp and Conference Center. Perhaps a one day sort of immersive vacation Bible school experience for children, with the right adults and community, and then grow into an overnight, and then experience a retreat for older adults, perhaps a chance for people who are aging and in transition in their lives, to come to a place of rest and respite. Think about access for people with special needs, think about access for people who do not have economic means to just pay for these experiences. We all need them, and they indeed are holy, holy opportunities for spiritual growth.

So, as we practice the way of love, may we practice it deeply in community. In places of retreat and mutual regard, that I would call Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers. So, thank you for this award. I'm very honored.