Posts Tagged ‘Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association’

2017. Attending the Labor Day meeting in the Tabernacle.  . Paul Goldfinger photo. ©


This photograph in front of the Tabernacle represents the secular side of Ocean Grove. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Blogfinger.net

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

Over the years I attended many of the annual Labor Day meetings sponsored by the OGCMA.  They usually consisted of reports by each of the departments involved with CMA functions.  Usually the reports were enthusiastic and optimistic, and for those involved with the CMA mission, it was a satisfying event, lasting about 90 minutes.

What was unique was the idea that this was a meeting for the public to attend if it so chose.  I usually took notes and posted the news for Blogfinger, and I would get to speak to some of the participants.  People from the community came out of interest or curiosity, but sometimes they came because they had an “axe to grind.”

At the end of the meeting there was an open mike, and anyone could go to the mike with a question for the  CMA President. Sometimes the question would be critical of CMA policies or would try to clarify some point of interest that was causing friction.  For some, the open mike was the best part of the Labor Day meeting because it was dramatic, interesting and sometimes startling.  Usually the CMA President was quite deft at deflecting criticisms.

Well, it seems that the CMA has decided to abandon that tradition.  This year there will be an event held on Sunday 5 pm in the Auditorium Pavilion. The public is not invited since the announcement says “for friends of the organization.”  I didn’t get an invitation nor would I want to go, but someone sent their copy to me  (below).



There will be a picnic  in the Pavilion followed by a hymn sing in the Tabernacle followed by a “praise report meeting that celebrates the blessings we have experienced this season.”

And there will be no open mike  (ie no surprises) during the part where questions are usually asked of the CMA.  Instead, those who received the email invitation can send in their questions in advance.

So it appears that the CMA is in no mood to be surprised by an open mike, and for those who submit questions, there is no promise that their questions would be answered.  In fact, it is unclear if the questioner can be present for the answer or if the questioner can ask his approved question or respond to the answer.

If any of you want to react to this change, feel free to comment below.

I always thought that it was generous of the CMA to let us all  (those interested) hear such transparent information.  And I thought that those asking embarrassing questions were out of line. I never asked a question.

Most OG citizens won’t care about this change, and those fair minded individuals who hear this news will understand that the CMA is in the midst of redefining itself, and that it is not our business to expect everything from this private organization to be transparent.

On the other hand, surely the CMA understands that some of what they do will generate skepticism because they are in the public arena and what they do may impact all of us who live in the Grove.

On Blogfinger, the religious beliefs of the CMA are not our concern.  But their public policies will continue to be discussed here and we do offer an open mike for those who have something wise, tolerant, fair,  and useful to say about our friends at the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN    “Jacob’s Ladder.”

We are climbing Jacob’s ladder
Yeah, we are climbing Jacob’s ladder
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder
We are brothers, and sisters, all


From  the album We Shall Overcome–the Seeger Sessions.

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On August 18, we posted excerpts of the OGCMA statement to the Township regarding parking permits.  As  you recall, the COO threated a law suit over this matter.  After that  (see above) we questioned the meaning of  some of the language found in that statement.

Since then, there has been a brisk debate here about this subject, so it seemed only fair now to  post the entire OGCMA statement.

To maintain context, you can go to that August 18 post  (link below) and click on ” comments” to find the entire speech. In it are some questionable facts, but you can judge for yourself. Here is the link:

Rev. John DiGiamberardino at the Neptune Committee Meeting

If you do want to comment on the entire speech, you can do so by continuing the comments thread above.  Or you can click on comments below this post.

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JP Gradone resigns. 2013 Blogfinger photo.

JP Gradone resigns. 2013 Blogfinger photo.

This announcement was received today by Blogfinger.  It was addressed to “all concerned”  No other information is available.  If any of our readers have opinions or facts about this matter, please comment below:


From Dale Whilden, President of the CMA:

“This is to inform you of a recent change in the staffing of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. Mr. JP Gradone has recently resigned as the COO/Executive Director of the Camp Meeting Association. Should you have questions that would normally have been addressed by Mr. Gradone, please contact Sharyn at the Camp Meeting office who will direct your call to the appropriate person.”


Here is a link to our coverage of Gradone’s arrival in OG:


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Ocean Grove, New Jersey.  Paul Goldfinger photograph.  Blogfinger.net © Undated

Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Paul Goldfinger photograph. Blogfinger.net © Undated

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger.

Ocean Grove United foolishly bowed out of the ceremonies in Auditorium Square Park today. The event was to thank everyone who participated in the Together Campaign. The word Together in the title was chosen for a reason—–all components of the Ocean Grove community joined together to work towards a complete Sandy recovery, and that included the OGU membership and leadership.

Now, because one man said certain things in a religious service seven days ago, this group was willing to cast aside a relationship that has been three years in the making. Why is that a good idea? Do you OGU members really want to divorce yourselves from your town over this? Do you really believe that Ocean Grove is a place that is anti-gay?   Is that your message to a town that has embraced the gay community?

I know more gay people in this town than I ever knew in my entire life. I have learned so much about that community and I am happy to be in a place that is exemplary in its tolerance.

OGU members: How about finding a different way to deal with the current situation, one that will continue to bring everyone together and to focus on what’s right and good in this very special town.

CHRIS MARTIN   “Us Against the World.”

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Ocean Grove's Wesley Lake will form part of the North End Redevelopment zone.  Photo by Paul Goldfinger, 2012.

Ocean Grove’s Wesley Lake will form part of the North End Redevelopment zone. Photo by Paul Goldfinger, 2012. © Click to enlarge.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

Steve Valk’s letter to the editor speaks about the idea of Ocean Grove as a community of multiple vertically integrated parts which he has analyzed for us in prior interviews.  (Steve Valk on the OG community.  LINK:      BF conversation with social scientist Steve Valk)

He and I both agree that our town is unique  and needs to be appreciated for its fascinating components, one of which is the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association  (OGCMA).

The role of the OGCMA in this community is basically a positive influence, despite what some cynics say. We had a fire last week, and the welcome mat was immediately rolled out at the Youth Temple as well as providing other services such as fund raising for the Fire Relief fund.  The CMA has a track record of emergency relief  and charitable efforts. They reached out to the various town civic groups in a big way after Sandy, and that effort has been remarkable and has benefitted us all.

But, from a wider perspective, what do they view as their place in the overall community of Ocean Grove?  What about now, with the North End Redevelopment looming in the future?  We have heard little from them on this subject.

What does the CMA think about the effects their North End project will have on everyone who calls Ocean Grove home? The CMA did create the town in 1869, so do they really want the North End to become Asbury Park South?  The indications suggest that they do, because they have stuck to their plan which was originated in 2008  and unchanged since then.

Sure, there is the history of the old North End amusement/hotel/recreation area, and that “old fashioned” North End  may be a precedent, but is it historic?   If history is their argument, then maybe they should look at the earliest park-like setting over there which contained tents and trees for perhaps 30 or 40 years after the founding.

The old North End Hotel was torn down in 1978, and this “area in need of redevelopment” has been essentially unchanged since then.  The CMA had to turn over control of the North End Development to Neptune Township, but as land owner and co-developer, it certainly has influence over what happens in the future.

Some citizens believe that the CMA should worry about the effects that the 2008 North End design will have on Ocean Grove’s appearance, safety, parking, lifestyle, etc.    Because the CMA tends not to go public with such concerns, we don’t know how they feel about it, and the final plans are incomplete.  If there are Grovers who believe that the CMA should change its mind about the project, then they should write to them or meet with them.

Sometime, commenters on Blogfinger want the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to get involved with more general issues in town such as historic preservation and derelict housing.    The basis for that belief seems to mostly stem from the land ownership issue and historic relationships.

But the CMA is a private organization that already does a great deal for the town.  Isn’t it unfair to expect more from them?

—–Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

AIR SUPPLY:  “Lost in Love.”


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Jason Tramm, music director for the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.  By Paul Goldfinger  ©

Jason Tramm, Director of Music Ministries for the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. By Paul Goldfinger ©

Being a conductor, Maestro Tramm often has his back to the audience so here he is in a rare frontal view.  This image was obtained at the September 1, 2014 annual Camp Meeting Labor Day public summary of the season’s successes.

Jason is a young man who is considered a rising star in the music world.   In Ocean Grove he manages an ambitious program of choral, orchestral and oratorial works.  He believes that adding music to inspirational words creates a powerful combination, so he plans even more great choral works in the Great Auditorium next season.

EILEEN FARRELL:    What music can we post to go with Jason’s photo?  Putting up an opera aria is too easy.  But Maestro Tramm, like all great musicians, probably appreciates music that crosses over the genre divides.   To hear Itzhak Perlman play klezmer music or Dick Hyman cross from classical to jazz, or, as in this case, the great late operatic soprano Eileen Farrell perform pop music:  Here she is with “The More I  See You” by Harry Warren  and Mack Gordon

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J.P. Gradone (L) COO and Dale Whilden, President at work at the OGCMA offices. DEc, 2013.  Paul Goldfinger photo.

J.P. Gradone (L) COO and Dale Whilden, President, at work at the OGCMA offices. Dec 11, 2013. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Mr. J.P. Gradone, the new COO/Executive Director of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, moved into town in November with his wife Cheryl  (pronounced CHeryl–like CHerry) and began work at Pitman and Pilgrim.  He has a lovely office on the corner, so he can look in two directions at the visual delights of Auditorium Park and a beauty parlor.   The Gradones moved here from Tennessee where he presided over a 3,000 member church and Christian school.  (BF link about JP Gradone ).  His name is really John Paul  (Mrs. Gradone gave us that scoop).  She calls him “J.P.”  I don’t have a middle name, so I told her to call me” P”

His predecessor interim  COO Ralph del Campo has been running with the FEMA ball for over one year, and now he has first and goal, so he will stay in the game, and Mr. Gradone will work on other tasks such as beach replenishment and warming up the place kicker.

Unknown-7Mr. Gradone just came back from a meeting about the Ocean Grove part of the beach replenishment project. He said that he received “quite an education” on the subject at the meeting which was attended by the Dept. of Environmental Protection and experts regarding the Transatlantic Cable.  Oddly enough the telecommunication cable travels over 8,000 miles to wind up in Avon-By-the-Sea of all places—at Sylvan Lake— New Jersey.  Mr. Gradone was astonished to learn this news, and so were we.

They must have great TV reception over there in Avon. The TA Cable will be carefully protected during work on the Avon beach.   No wonder that blue heron showed up there .  Even the birds are amazed!  (On BF  Carl finds a bird  )

The project is finishing up near Sandy Hook and Long Branch and will then move south to Avon-By-the-Cable.  Then they will head north again and get to Bradley Beach followed by Ocean Grove.

When the Army Corps starts work here  they will rope off 1000 ft. at a time, but the rest of the beach will be accessible to walkers. The work should be started “sometime after the first of the year.” We expect that would be 2014.

Grovers down by the beach can expect some noise and some sand up their noses.  The Army Corps will work 24/7,  so Mr. Gradone thanks you in advance for “your patience.”  He says it won’t be too bad.  When that noise arrives, you will probably wish you lived across from the Stone Pony.

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Nov. 3, 2013. Ralph del Campo (left) and Bill Bailey organize disaster volunteers in the Tabernacle. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Nov. 3, 2012. Ralph del Campo (right) and Bill Bailey organize disaster volunteers in the Tabernacle. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

August 27, 2013. Ocean Grove, N.J.    By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger

Ralph delCampo had just retired from his job as a pharmaceutical industry executive early in 2012. He was going to embark on a sabbatical to figure out what he would do next, but after only two months of that, he agreed to replace Scott Hoffman and become the interim Chief Operating Officer of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.  He had been on the Board for a few years, and it seemed that running the CMA programs would be right up his alley.  After all, in his career, he was in charge of large operations including supervising corporate programs in multiple countries at the same time.

But when Sandy hit in October, 2012, he found himself faced with a huge challenge.  He has remained at his post longer than he ever expected and he has had to learn how to deal with large government agencies, especially FEMA.  But he has been quite comfortable in supervising the CMA response to the Sandy devastation including working with consultants, planning construction projects, coming up with technological solutions to structural challenges, dealing with elected officials and starting a fund raising campaign.  He and his colleagues have faced many challenges including planning for a future where another large storm will not destroy our homes and facilities.

His official departure date is November 6, 2013, but Ralph lives full time in the Grove, and he will continue to be on the Board of the CMA and on the Executive Committee. He said, “I’ll stay involved.”

The search for the new COO continues, but the field has been narrowed, and a replacement may be announced soon.

Everybody around here calls him Ralph, and his good humor and people skills have certainly come in handy as he pursues financing and reconstruction at the beachfront while supervising the vast programming activities of the CMA.

He also will be one of the individuals who will run the annual Labor Day CMA Public Meeting which will be held in the Youth Temple on Monday, September 2, 2013  at 9:00 am.  The agenda for that meeting is complicated, but Ralph is determined to move things along so that everyone can get to their holiday activities.  There will be the usual opportunity for Q and A at the end.


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1. Rabies clinics:    Neptune City on March 9 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Public Works–W. Sylvania Ave.  (732 776 7224).

Also Neptune Township Public Works on May 4.  9 am-11 am. 2201 Heck Avenue.

2. Grovers can expect to see Neptune Township workers and equipment clearing sand from the streets and lawns in the coming days. The sand that was blown inland by the hurricane will be sifted and then returned to the beach. “I think we’ll see a concerted effort in the next week to take that next step in the cleanup,” Bascom said.

3. We have heard from Rip Bush of  Keer and Heyer in Pt.Pleasant Beach.  He says that FEMA will be remapping Ocean Grove in the future.  He says,”It’s coming our way.”

He suggests two links for those who are interested:

FEMA remapping


4.  Jan 30; From Liz:” Two fire calls to the Warrington this week. Monday and Tuesday night— both false alarms”

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CMA Director of Operations Bill Bailey shows photos of storm damage. Ralph delCampo (left" and Dale Whilden look on. Photos by Mary Walton

Camp Meeting Director of Operations Bill Bailey shows photos of storm damage. Ralph delCampo (left) and Dale Whilden look on. Photos by Mary Walton (Left click to see the photos enlarged)

By Charles Layton

A new spirit of good will and cooperation blossomed on Tuesday night, when leaders of the Camp Meeting Association and all of Ocean Grove’s major civic groups met to discuss storm recovery.

It falls to the Camp Meeting, as owner of the beach, to raise money and plan and execute the work of repairing the boardwalk and beach facilities.

However, others have a major stake, and up to now some of them had felt isolated, uninformed and frustrated. Merchants had complained because neighboring towns seemed to be moving ahead with rebuilding plans much faster than Ocean Grove. Other local groups said they wanted to help raise money for the beach and boardwalk, but their members hesitated for fear that donations for storm relief would be commingled with the Camp Meeting’s other funds and activities.

Camp Meeting officials organized Tuesday night’s meeting with those concerns fully in mind. “We’re all in the boat together and we all need to row in the same direction,” said Ralph delCampo, the Camp Meeting’s interim administrator. He and Camp Meeting president Dale Whilden pledged to keep everyone fully informed going forward. They also asked for everyone’s input, including their criticisms. But no criticisms were voiced on Tuesday night.

Those present included leaders of the Home Owners Association, the Historical Society, Ocean Grove United, the Fishing Club, the Chamber of Commerce and the Ocean Grove Beautification Project.

In laying out their plans for this year’s fund-raising campaign, DelCampo and other Camp Meeting officials stressed again and again that funds for the boardwalk and beachfront will be “totally separated” from all other funds. (Contributors can write “Boardwalk & Beach Front” in the memo field of their checks to have the donations routed to that separate account.)

The Camp Meeting officials said the entire beach will be open by Memorial Day and that most of the boardwalk will be operational, as will the beach office, bathrooms and changing rooms. And they discussed engineering issues in considerable detail. Bill Bailey, the Camp Meeting’s director of operations, used aerial photos of the beachfront to explain how different types of dune structures, bulkheads and barriers had functioned during Hurricane Sandy, and which of those might best prevent damage in future storms.

At the end of the meeting, Rich Lepore of the Chamber of Commerce expressed optimism about the summer season. “We’re going to do everything we possibly can do to drive home the fact that Ocean Grove is open,” he said.

Gail Shaffer of the Historical Society suggested that all of the organizations present should state on their websites that the OG beach will be open this summer. Others talked about plans to help with fund raising. Connie Ogden of OG Beautification said “We intend to go full blast” in providing decorative plantings along the boardwalk and elsewhere. Luisa Paster of Ocean Grove United suggested sending news releases to The Coaster on a regular basis.

Camp Meeting development officer Karen Adams began the meeting with an explanation of this year’s fund-raising campaign. She said the Camp Meeting normally needs to raise about $1 million, but this year the need is much greater. The cost of fixing the boardwalk and beachfront is estimated at $3 million, she said. Assuming that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides 75 percent of that amount, the Camp Meeting would need to raise another $750,000. Thornley Chapel is also in need of $500,000 worth of renovation (not related to the hurricane), and $100,000 must be raised for repairs to the storm-damaged auditorium roof. Insurance will cover the rest of the auditorium costs.

Karen Adams (center) describes the fund-raising campaign. Listening are Carol Woidt (left) of OG Beautification and Mary Ellen Tellefsen of the Chamber of Commerce.

Karen Adams (center) describes the fund-raising campaign. Listening are Carol Woidt (left) of OG Beautification and Mary Ellen Tellefsen of the Chamber of Commerce.

Ordinarily, the Camp Meeting would simply put donations for all those projects into a single fund. However, Whilden said, “We fully realize that probably the majority of the community is primarily interested in the boardwalk,” and therefore “there will be no commingling of funds. They’re completely different funds.”

Whilden said the Camp Meeting has already raised $190,000.

Bailey led a technical discussion of beach barriers and dunes. He said the Camp Meeting believes the reason the portion of the boardwalk from the pavilion to Seaview Avenue held up so well was because the dunes along that stretch of beach were constructed on top of a rubble wall buried beneath the sand. This rubble wall had been installed following a 1953 nor’easter. It has performed so well that the Camp Meeting would like to use that same type of structure along the entire length of the beach. However, “ultimately, it’s going to be all about the money,” Bailey said, “and those rubble walls are expensive.”

The Camp Meeting also discovered that a sheet steel bulkhead in front of the boardwalk at the south end had provided good protection there. Engineers have been helping the Camp Meeting study these and other options for rebuilding.

Bailey said the reason Ocean Grove did not announce its rebuilding plans as quickly as other towns was that the Camp Meeting wanted to first determine which structures will best prevent damage in future storms. “We’ve got to get this right,” he said. “We’re investing a lot of money. We’ve got to study it.”

DelCampo said Ocean Grove needs to avoid what happened in Spring Lake, where the boardwalk was damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011, the town rebuilt it immediately, and then it was destroyed again just one year later by Hurricane Sandy.

According to Bailey, here is what visitors to Ocean Grove can expect by Memorial Day:

  • The beach will be open in its entirety.
  • The south end boardwalk – from the beach office to Bradley Beach — will be restored.
  • From just north of the beach office to just north of McClintock Street the boardwalk will not be in place, but beach access points will be provided.
  • From the pavilion to the north end the boardwalk will be in place.

Still unanswered is the question of access to Asbury Park. As a temporary fix. there may just be an asphalt pathway.

Also, before summer, the Camp Meeting will send volunteer rescue divers out to retrieve submerged offshore debris.

The Camp Meeting officials said they still had no word as to whether FEMA will agree to provide any funds for restoring the boardwalk. Neither do they know when FEMA might announce that decision. For background on that, see this previous story.

Bailey uses aerial photos to illustrate the performance of a boardwalk bulkhead

Bailey points to an aerial photo showing how the beachfront looked before the storm

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