camping,  Outdoor recreation

YMCA Camp of Maine in Winthrop launches $2. 5 million fundraising campaign – Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel

Camp counselors walk toward the arts and crafts building to make signs to welcome the new campers arriving within July 2021 at the YMCA Camp of Maine in Winthrop. Leaders of the summer camp on Cobbosseecontee Lake recently launched a capital campaign to raise $2. 5 million to help build the camp’s endowment, make improvements to its buildings and fund scholarships for campers. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

WINTHROP — After a couple of years of challenges for the YMCA Camp of Maine, its leadership is launching a capital campaign to raise $2. 5 million over the next 18 months.

“This is a great time to do it as we’re coming off a difficult time and we’ve been able to weather the particular storm, ” said Jeff Gleason, executive director for that YMCA Camp of Maine. “And we’re looking at how we can continue our good works serving our community and providing these outdoor camping experiences to our youth. ”

The money will be used to support three initiatives for the 250-acre overnight summer camp on Cobbosseecontee Lake in Winthrop .

The first is growing the camp’s endowment, now at about $200, 000 where it’s been for a number of years, to $1 million to help secure the camp’s future to pay for ongoing facility needs as well as support.

The second is paying for improvements to camp facilities such as building a new archery pavilion; remodeling the infirmary that dates back about six decades; upgrading the auditorium for stage productions and musical and performing arts groups; and continuing work on the camp’s waterfront plus shoreline stabilization.

And the third is fully funding 218 camperships. Gleason said the need for financial aid with regard to children to attend camp is growing every year. While the camp has tiered pricing that keeps camp affordable for many, there are those who need more support.

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“We are lucky that we have a great board right now, and there was a large gift that came in anonymously last year, ” said Brad Sawyer, chairman of the camp’s board of directors. “We thought that when the iron is hot, it’s time to strike. ”

Porches connect cabins in the girls’ village at the YMCA Camp of Maine in Winthrop, seen in July 2021. Leaders from the summer camp on Cobbosseecontee Lake recently launched a capital campaign to raise $2. five million to help build the camp’s endowment, make improvements to its buildings and fund scholarships for campers. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

That gift, a pledge of $100, 000, will help build the particular endowment. So far, the total raised is about $250, 000, 10% of the $2. 5 mil goal.

Sawyer said a fundraising lift this size is always significant, but the right people are in place to get the work done.

“One of the things we’re excited with is to bring it to the local community, ” he said. “We find there are people who have lived within miles of camp their entire life and don’t know we’re there. So we’re excited to share our mission as a camp and this goal with the surrounding communities. ”

The last capital campaign, about 15 years ago, resulted in massive renovations to the cabins and new tennis and basketball courts, and it allowed the staff to catch up on deferred maintenance.

The camp has focused on camp and local community programs that promote spiritual, mental and physical growth.

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“The thing that separates us most from other camps is the social nature and the fact that we have so many people come from different places, ” Gleason stated. “You have a chance to come on to our property and meet people from all over the world and get to know them, and it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your background is. ”

Every summer it offers an one-week session and 3 two-week sessions. Last year, 568 boys and girls through 7 to 16 came to camp from across Maine, New England and other states, as well as through Canada, Mexico and Europe.

Gleason mentioned the camp’s 75 staff members are from both the United States and other countries.

A camp counselor reacts to learning a cabin assignment in July 2021 at the YMCA Camp of Maine in Winthrop. Leaders of the summer camp upon Cobbosseecontee Lake recently launched a capital campaign to boost $2. 5 million to assist build the camp’s diathesis, make improvements to its buildings plus fund scholarships for campers.   Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

“We started in 1915 and the director back then would travel around the world and collect staff, ” he said. “We were an international camp before a lot of other camps were. It’s a large part of who we have always been, creating this large multinational place in the summertime. It’s pretty cool. ”

He said getting campers and staff together and interacting in person to develop relationships is more important now than it ever has been, following the COVID-19 pandemic, during which schools were closed and activities were canceled and many interactions took place online.

Gleason stated the organization’s leadership is hoping to engage the camp’s alumni who already support the annual campaign. And they now are working on building relationships with foundations and others who may help the get away reach its goal.

For more information on the campaign, the YMCA Camp associated with Maine has set up a page on the website .

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