If you’re a current student at TU, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with Dry Gulch. TU has used the location for its Orientation Week activities since 2013, meaning many incoming freshmen’s first real chance to socialize with one another occurred in its pools, arcades, the food court or even the graveyard-themed designated smoking area.
Just this past week, however, it was announced that Dry Gulch would be put on the market by its current owner, Church On The Move.
Church On the Move was founded by Willie George in 1987 under the title of Willie George ministries. It was a humble beginning, with little over 150 attendants at the time.
Today Church on the Move has become a ‘Mega-church’ with three campuses. It hosts a website that archives and streams the church’s services.
Its estimated membership numbers over 10,000 Christians, and the church was recently reported to be the largest in Tulsa.
In George’s announcement that Dry Gulch would be put on the market, the pastor explained that the financial costs of running the camp were “draining” the organization at large.
This might not come as a shock, especially considering that the camp’s most popular feature, Christmas Train, was canceled last year. The train ride, which would recount the story of the bible, attracted approximately 60,000 guests each year.
As far as selling the summer camp in whole, Willie George claimed it to be a divinely-influenced decision. “I believe that God has released me,” he explained, “after five years of prayer.”
He went on to cite his fading importance in Dry Gulch, saying, “me being there is no longer important.” The pastor’s image no longer necessary to the success of the camp, he feels drawn to focus his efforts elsewhere, namely Church on the Move, which has “far surpassed” his previous religious efforts.
Meanwhile, Church on the Move has agreed to honor its Dry Gulch contract with Tulsa University for the summer of 2016. Both their organization and the TU administration are hopeful that whoever does purchase the land continues this trend of cooperation.
The university, however, is aware of the potential need to switch locations to accommodate future incoming freshmen.
Steven Denton, of the office of New Student Programs and Services, emphasizes his belief in the “value of an off-site, overnight experience for first-year students to connect with each other as a whole class.”
The purpose of StartTU week at large is “to make students feel welcome and reduce any concerns they have about transitioning to life at TU… Helping new students to develop connections and build friendships while they are informed about student resources, the university’s key values and school pride.”
Because of their commitment to maintaining a successful orientation week and helping new students acclimate to college, the office is currently taking suggestions for a new location, should the need for a transition arise.
They’re looking for anything that is reasonably close to campus, large enough to house 500-600 students and offers entertaining activity options.
Anyone with a site in mind which fits these parameters is encouraged to contact the office at email@example.com.