I hope this letter finds you safe and well. With two months left in 2020, we are still only hosting about a quarter of the groups that we typically would. Yes, it’s frustrating and disheartening, but we have refused to let that keep us down. So, with an empty camp, we have used this time to kick maintenance and restoration into high gear.
In my last letter, I mentioned a few projects that we’ve either been working on or completed. We have since finished renovating the next seven cabins in the Oaks cabin area. For those keeping score at home, that’s now 14 of the original 21 cabins. Work on the remaining seven cabins is already underway and will be completed prior to Christmas.
We have been hard at work in the Palms cabins as well. Each of the original 21 cabins in the Palms has had permanent dehumidifiers installed above their in-wall water heaters. This completes our mission of ensuring that every single cabin on property now has adequate moisture management. It is a major boost to our constant fight against mold, mildew and the Florida humidity.
Other improvements include an overhaul of the two sand volleyball pits, a renewed beach by the boathouse at the lake, new benches to replace all of the old broken-down ones in both cabin areas, a move and update to the old camp store to accommodate online purchases, and much more!
Finally, a project that has not been completed yet — but which I hope to have completed prior to Christmas — is the resurfacing of the pavilion floor. The floor of the pavilion, our dining hall, was the first concrete slab poured during the first phases of the youth camp’s construction. Even 30 years ago, it was built with a vision in mind of how this camp would grow, and at over 15,000 square feet, it still accommodates over 500 campers and staff during summer camp meals. The resurfacing project will ensure that this special place remains a highlight for all who visit our camp.
While our maintenance crews have been hard at work on those projects, our housekeeping team has redoubled their efforts to keep all of our facilities clean and safe. These duties have consisted of everything from a cabin deep cleaning mission that includes breaking down every bed in every cabin —no small feat considering there are 468 beds just in the camper cabins — to implementing new daily disinfecting measures for every office, restroom and public area on property to fight the coronavirus.
All of this is to say that we can’t wait to get kids back on site and that we know that when we do, they will be safe as well as inspired. Right now, January actually looks to be pretty full for us, and I am excited to debut all of our new changes for these kids. Likewise, we are all looking forward to the February quarterly meetings, and if you’d like to experience the improvements I’ve mentioned for yourself, be sure to reserve your spot today. To do so, simply email Jen Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t wait, as we are filling up quickly.
I’d like to end on a hopeful note for next summer. No one knows what nine more months will bring, but I am confident that the struggles of this year have only served to better prepare us for whatever comes next, and we are fully expecting to have kids back for camp next summer.
As we get ready for summer camp 2021, registration for camp will open Dec. 1 this year. Typically, we’d open Nov. 1, but I’ve asked Jen to hold off a bit longer while we work to ensure that those signed up for 2020 get first shot at 2021. Applications will once again be available from our website at floridaelks.org/camp. The link will go live Dec. 1.
We will again be providing the six Elks National Foundation camper scholarships for each lodge to your district’s representative on the Florida Elks Youth Camp Board of Directors. Your District Director will then provide the information for these scholarships to each lodge. Furthermore, if you have any questions with camper enrollment, please begin with that same District Director. They will have information specific to your area and can best answer your questions.
As always, anyone signing up for camp will need an Elk’s name and member number to apply. There are two main reasons for this. First, in order for us to remain a private camp — and trust me, I’ve been in the public system and we do not want to go that route — we must have a Florida Elk sponsor every camper. Please remember, sponsoring a child does not mean you must pay for that child. If the family cannot pay and your lodge cannot pay, then I’d ask that you request that the camper be camp sponsored. Second, this is a major opportunity for you to receive recognition, appreciation and (potentially) members from your community. How incredible would it be if every family in your area sang the praises of your lodge because you were the ones who helped their kids get to camp? I don’t want these parents calling the camp to get approval to go. I want them to look to you as the single reason why their child attended camp. Whether it was because you sponsored them, you sponsored and paid for them, or you simply sponsored them and got the camp to pay for them, I want the person in the limelight to be you!
Thank you for all you do as Elks. Please stay safe!