The youth group from Our Lady of Hope (OLH) in Des Plaines, IL, headed up by Deacon Jim, has been coming to Camp Daniel every summer for their mission’s trip for 11 years. Each year, they raised money for materials and supplies. Then, they would spend a week here at Camp Daniel, working on various construction and landscaping projects.
This year marked their 11th year serving at Camp Daniel. In honor of the 11 years and the retirement of Deacon Jim, we held an official dedication ceremony of the nature center, the first project OLH took on.
How it all began… One of our faithful volunteers, Cherylee, grew up coming to the Camp Daniel grounds when it was a Salvation Army Camp. After the Salvation Army Camp was gone, she returned to the grounds to revisit old memories. When Camp Daniel bought the property in 1994, she was a bit resistant to the change, since it overtook the camp she once knew and loved. However, after hearing what Camp Daniel is about, she quickly warmed up to and welcomed us. She became very involved, becoming one of our biggest advocates and a counselor. She told everyone she met about Camp Daniel.
Cherylee had a friend, to whom she told all about Camp Daniel. This friend’s husband was roommates, in college, with Deacon Jim. She told Cheryl Lee that he was a Deacon who took his youth group on a mission’s trip every year in the Appalachian area for service projects. At the time, Deacon Jim was looking for something in a more northern region, closer to home and a bit cooler in climate. Cherylee’s friend connected Deacon Jim with Camp Daniel and it became a perfect match.
Deacon Jim came to tour the grounds and see what the possibilities were. Little Tony gave a tour, sharing stories of God’s provisions up to that point, and shared the plans and vision for the future. One of the items Tony mentioned was the plan to eventually have a nature center. Deacon Jim grabbed a hold of that idea and said they would take that project on. So, in the summer of 2005, Deacon Jim brought about 30 youth, with the materials and supplies they raised funds for, and built the nature center.
Every year since, OLH has faithful served Camp Daniel. Other projects include building brick retaining walls, a nature trail, fencing, a gazebo, a shed, a bocce ball court, and building a stage in the future dining hall. They’ve also laid many pallets of sod over the years.
After working hard all day, the evenings were filled with fun activities such as swimming in the lake, using the carpet ball and bocce ball court, bonfires, and outings to local pizza and ice-cream and other local activities in the area. Every night, they would have a time of worship and devotions around the bonfire.
It has been a great opportunity for the students to not only be involved in a service project, but also to have a connection with people with disabilities. All week long, the students worked along side the residents here at Camp Daniel. There have been several opportunities for Tony to share about disability and Camp Daniel during their devotional bonfires. Furthermore, several of the students have become counselors during our summer camps!
This year, Father Clem and Deacon Jim led a special dedication ceremony for the nature center, blessing all those who helped build it, all those who will serve in it, and all those who will use it in the future.
Deacon Jim blessing the building and all who were present.
Here we are gathered for the dedication ceremony.
Students also put up a fence. On the other side of this fence is a retaining wall and leads down to The Garage.
Many thanks to Deacon Jim, Father Clem, leaders, and many students of OLH for there many years of service and dedication to Camp Daniel!
Today, the construction of the OLH Nature Center is complete and it is in the process of being filled with an array of animal mounts, skins, bones, and hives that have been donated to the project.
When Camp Daniel is operating on the campus, campers and guests will learn about nature by looking at and touching many animals and other aspects of nature that are indigenous to Northeast Wisconsin.
Notice this empty shelf…..Camp is currently looking for mounts, furs, etc to add to the collection. If you have any items to donate, contact the Camp Daniel office at (715) 757-3880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org