Camp Hope held its first-ever gala fundraising event at the Battle Ground Community Center on February 4, raising over $28,000; costs were kept low by community donations, therefore net income was close to $25,000. Over 35 students and young people served appetizers and dinner to 150 enthusiastic community members, who especially loved the dessert dash—a competitive way to raise funds through bidding on sensational desserts. Additionally, young people entertained, donated art, and helped set up and tear down after the event. Kids are included in every Camp Hope event as youth are the heart of the mission of Camp Hope. At the event, board member Dave Rohner invited the community to be part of building the future of the Camp, and the future of our youth. He explained that donations from the evening’s event will pay for ongoing operational expenses and will fund camp construction projects.
Camp Hope is an educational nonprofit youth camp located on the Lewis River, directly across from Lewisville Park. The Camp is a facility for groups to use for camping and day use, offering much to entertain visitors—the river, trails, caves, archery, fire rings, a large stage, a slack line, disc golf, and more. Additionally, Camp Hope is now offering Day Camps on the third Saturday in March (they will be held every month); for only $20 youth ages 11-17 will enjoy the camp experience in one day. For more information, check out the website at camphope-wa.org.
Rohner also shared, "Ever since my own experiences as a youth at outdoor camps, I have valued the important role the outdoors can play in encouraging a young person’s life. Most youth have to travel many miles to get a break from the stress and challenge of everyday life not to mention the chronic negative effect of drugs, abuse and mental illness. Right in our backyard, just a few miles from the center of Battle Ground exists an oasis, a retreat. Quiet and removed, Camp Hope is slowly returning to a place where children’s laughter can be heard, questions responded to and lives changed."
The Camp has an interesting history. After more than fifteen years of non-use, the former Girl Scout camp was of little or no value to the community, but through the brainstorm of former commissioner Mark Boldt, schoolteacher Karl Johnson (a former board member) and the cooperation of Clark County Parks and Recreation, the camp has new life. Since Camp Hope has taken possession of the 106-acre campus, huge renovations have taken place. The caretaker's house, office, sleeping pods, restrooms and grounds have been renovated and now stand usable. More than $100,000 dollars has been donated along with labor and supplies allowing for more than $200,000 of capital improvements to date.
Camp Hope is now making a difference. In cooperation with other youth service organizations: Boys & Girls Club, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Sparks of Hope, Rock Solid Teen Center and others, kids are now benefiting from Camp Hope, but the work does not stop there.
The Camp is lacking a central meeting facility and dining hall. Short-term plans have been drafted to build a shelter where groups can meet and dine. Additionally, in cooperation with the county, Camp Hope is creating a master plan that will include a central lodge with full commercial kitchen, various service buildings and a challenge course. Camp Hope is also in negotiation for an extended long-term lease agreement to ensure the camp remains a community resource for years to come.