Community Storehouse

CAMP SNAPSHOT

YMCA Storer Camps

Napoleon, Mich.

www.ymcastorercamps.org

First-Timers weekend summer camp (second graders): $158

One-week summer camp: $430-$450

Two-week summer camp: $780-$880

(Prices vary depending on the program the camper is enrolled in and when they register)

Related Article: On The Ball Year-Round

Do you believe in miracles? At YMCA Storer Camps, located on 1,200 acres of lakefront property in Napoleon, Mich., they certainly do.

Glen King, who’s now vice president of camping services for the YMCA of Greater Toledo, was a volunteer on the camp’s board in 1994 when the decision was made to raise more than $1 million to fund new and ambitious programming and facility projects. King and his group were charged with getting the message out and raising the funds needed.

“We were biting our fingernails. That plan had outrageous stuff in it. We dreamed we could have adventure centers, more lodges, indoor riding centers and community centers,” says King. “Over the next five years, including our scholarship campaign, we raised $7.5 million.”

King says the camp was reaffirmed by its focus on acting as a “tithing storehouse” for the surrounding communities. Once the message went out and people began to offer their time, talent and treasure (the three biblical Ts of tithing that King alludes to), the future began to unfold.

What the camp needed to make this happen was a focused mission, a genuine desire to offer a year-round sanctuary that gave back to the community and a cohesive message.

Message & Medium

Throughout its 85-year history Storer has always had a well-focused philosophical message based partly on its association as a YMCA camp and its own set of principles, condensed in phrases like “I’m Third,” and “The Path”.

This foundation of ideas crystallized around 1994 as the camp came up with a well thought-out plan that could be easily communicated to the thousands of people associated with the camp in one form or another.

“We didn’t realize the power of good planning,” comments King. “The real success in ensuring you still exist 50-100 years from now is doing an honest evaluation of where you are now and where you are going. Then, engage as many members of the community who believe in what you’re doing and the outcome will be spectacular beyond your wildest imaginations.”

Storer’s plan has been massaged and helped along by the camp’s staff, alumni, board, community members and consultants like Cleveland-based Schmidt, Copeland, Parker, Stevens, who brought the concept of charrettes, or visioning sessions, to the camp.

These visioning or brainstorming sessions dictate that existing assumptions are thrown out and free-flow creative thinking about possibilities takes their place. Once these ideas are shaped, they’re captured in architectural renderings that are not necessarily what will be, but what could be. The renderings act more as a stimulus for dialog, communication and feedback, says King.

From there, the message is disseminated and people willing to contribute the aforementioned three Ts are sought out.

“They also have opportunity for engagement at camp to help us get ready for summer — put the docks out, put the boats out or come out for work weekends throughout the year,” says King. “Because they’re so involved they have all kinds of opportunities to test us, challenge us, redirect us and be tethered together with us. We’re transforming communities with this; it’s cool.”

With the first phase completed — four new lodges and a dining hall — the camp is embarking on what could be a five-phase program. The phases include a number of new state-of-the-art facilities, but the concept the camp is most excited about is an adventure center.

“We’re just beginning the visioning of the indoor adventure center, and we’re looking at things like indoor kayaking, climbing walls, high and low ropes courses, caves — the kind of adventure challenges that we already provide seasonally, and more,” says King. “In Michigan, sometimes we’ll have five-degree temperatures and a foot of snow, and you can’t use your outdoor adventure facilities.”

The ideas for this facility, should they come to complete fruition, would be the envy of even the most sophisticated big-city aquarium, museum or recreation center.

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