I have been lucky enough to work in the camping profession for almost 20 years. Within those two decades, I have seen well over 50 camps from New York to Colorado. You could say it’s kind of a hobby of mine. And while most camps are set in beautiful places and have their own distinctive features, I can say without a doubt that Camp Wood YMCA is one of the most uniquely beautiful camps I have ever seen. With the surrounding Tall Grass Prairie and the views of the Flint Hills it is an incredible landscape. Just the other day, after a long stint without rain, to look out on the prairie and see how just a little bit of moisture had turned the grasses into an incredible orange hue was a site to behold.
Yes, the scenery is awe inspiring, but as you look at our buildings, facilities and program areas, I would still rate Camp Wood at the top of my list. Camp Wood is entering its 102nd summer! But even after so many years of being well loved by generations, our coveted property still looks remarkable. We are completely blessed in the buildings and facilities that we have. Those facilities allow us the opportunity to serve campers and guests. Ritchie Lodge gives us places to break bread with one another, and build community. Trusler Lodge provides guests the chance to create and express themselves artistically. Jones Village gives guests a safe, comfortable, and convenient location to meet, sleep and recreate. And I could go on and on about our facilities, each with its own unique quality, beauty and intentional purpose.
So, how, after 100 years, has Camp Wood been able to do that? How has this little camp that started with a 40-acre donation in 1915 grown to 868 acres complete with a lake (Lake Hall), a chapel (Hutherson Hall), riding arena (Koger Horse Pavilion), and much more that now serves over 6,000 guests a year? The truth of it is pure generosity. We have been blessed with donors and partners throughout this 100-year history who have provided camp with incredible resources to continue the mission. The immense list of committed donors who believe in what we do and want to provide a place for all ages to enjoy the Flint Hills, while building character, and finding community is the reason we are still here today.
Even now we are amid a new capital campaign. We have some incredible projects coming up including: revamping our lake to provide more swim and boating areas, building a new climbing wall and high ropes course, new shade structures, and developing the front of Ritchie lodge for seating and gathering. All these amazing projects will allow us to dig deeper in helping campers reach their personal goals as well as build stronger relationships with others. It will provide access to some great programming that will challenge and excite everyone. If you have interest in giving to camp, we would love to hear from you. There is always a need, whether it is for capital dollars or scholarship dollars because, as always no camper is ever turned away due to an inability to pay. All in all Camp Wood YMCA has been truly blessed, and we are so thankful to our community of donors, friends, campers and guests who have continued a tradition of excellence.