Lakeview Acquires Cramer Retreat Center in Houston

Date Posted: 4/9/2015

On February 20, 2015, the board of Lakeview Methodist Conference Center voted unanimously for Lakeview to receive the property, and all accompanying assets and operations of the Cramer Methodist Retreat Center. The Trustees of the Cramer Center and Heartspring Methodist Foundation (which owned the real property) had voted earlier in February to offer the retreat center to Lakeview as a gift.
Treasurer of the Cramer Center Board, and C.E.O. of Heartspring Methodist Foundation, Rev. C.J. Taylor describes the Cramer center as “an 18 acre property that includes three residential homes which serve as the primary lodgings and can house up to 30 people overnight... There’s also a separate meeting room, an outdoor pavilion with an outdoor kitchen, a prayer trail, a labyrinth and two large ponds on the property.” The retreat center has been used regularly for small weekend retreats, and is used for day retreats including church staff meetings, Bible studies and confirmation weekend retreats from churches around the conference, but primarily those in the Houston area because of its location. The property is in Spring, Texas - located two blocks West of I-45 at Holzwarth.
The Cramer Center came into being in 2002 thanks to a gift by the late John Robinson. John  was a member of St. Luke’s UMC, Houston and was active on various boards within the Texas Annual Conference. He had bought the property at government auction in the mid 1990’s and named it after his Aunt Cramer, who had left him the money that was used to purchase the property. It was donated in 2002 to what is now Heartspring to benefit the members and churches of the Texas Annual Conference.  C.J. added: “At the same time John gave the property, another of John’s aunts, Mildred Breiten, established a charitable remainder trust with approximately $600,000. The purpose of the trust was to support the operations and maintenance of the Cramer Center. Between that endowment fund and user fees, the retreat center operates firmly in the black as a fully operational retreat center.”
“At this time, Cramer Center and Lakeview are engaged with Kaleidoscope Inc. and Mr. Jody Oates, to review the camping program” noted Rev. Matt Idom, Director of Lakeview. The Lakeview Board of Directors, the Texas Annual Conference Camping Committee and the Cabinet are evaluating the future of camping ministry in the Annual Conference. The Cramer center will now become a part of that study and evaluation being conducted by Kaleidoscope. Matt added: “We’re excited to receive the gift and explore the possibilities!” 

Renovations Making Progress
Lakeview is also moving forward on projects previously mentioned as part of their master plan on the campus of their retreat center in Palestine, Texas.
Matt said Hearn is set to open this summer. “The six new cabins will house 384, and are scheduled to be completed and housing campers in 2015.” Weather has caused some delays, but they also expect Bagley Hall, the new 400 seat auditorium, to be ready for camp.
“We’re anticipating the Kaleidoscope study will help refine the designs for Camp Wesley’s replacement and the remodel of what we’re calling the quad – the center of camp with the oval, gift shop, and old cafeteria complex,” Matt continued.  “All of that is going to be remodeled.”
“We’ve raised approximately $7.7 Million of our $15 million goal,” Matt noted. “As we raise more money, the next part of phase 1 begins. We’ve not raised enough yet to break the ground to start Camp Wesley, but we will know by late spring about grants and other things we are pursuing.” However, we have been able to purchase new beds and mattresses for all of the Wesley Cabins and they will be ready for use this camp season.
Zombies at Lakeview
On Friday, February 13th, quiet Lakeview became overrun with students in what they billed as “the most exciting, spiritual, ZANY, unique, & wonderful senior high retreat EVER!!”
The three day retreat left those in attendance infected with information from guest speaker Jonathan McKee’s, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers.
There were 100 participants and about 40 volunteers helping with the themed event. “The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers like The Hunger Games is written for teenage audiences, Rev. Matt Idom noted. “Jonathan McKee took the popularity of a zombie apocalypse theme and wrote these daily devotionals for teenagers written about trying to survive conditions they discover in a zombie invaded world through the use of the scripture.  It’s really kind of obvious stuff – turn the other cheek, love thy enemy -- lessons they learn by being around other people… and takes the idea that sometimes the greatest danger is not from zombies but other people who are not faithful in your life.” 
The event included a beauty contest-styled-walk, interview and talent contest before judges chose a king and queen. Professional theater set designers and makeup artists converted the old Windham Dorms into the Zombie Apocalypse battleground. Mark Swayze and Band provided music for worship and assembly. Volunteers included the Wesley Foundation from Stephen F. Austin State University who brought volunteers to help out during the entire weekend.
“This was a one-time thing.” Matt added. “It was a way to say “goodbye” to the old Wyndam Dorms. We cannibalized them and created a zombie village to have fun and be zany.  The kids were running around with flag football belts on and if the zombie got your flag you became a zombie. It was just fun.”
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Learn more about the Cramer Center at