New President Sees Growth for Camp Wa-Ri-Ki

Michael McNulty sees a lot of hard work coming together to position Camp Wa-Ri-Ki for growth.

Michael McNulty sees a lot of hard work coming together to position Camp Wa-Ri-Ki for growth.

Michael McNulty, a long-time serving Board Member for both the local Vancouver Kiwanis, and on the Camp Wa-Ri-Ki Board, was elected President of the Kiwanis Camp Wa-Ri-Ki Board in November of 2014 and he sees great things ahead for 2015.

Noting that Kiwanis have managed the Camp since the late 70’s (it’s owned by Skamania County), McNulty, a career banker, explains that only recently did the Camp secure a fifty-year lease, where prior leases were never more than for two-five years. Now just two years into this extended lease, the Camp is “eligible for a lot of grants and community donations that we would not have been qualified for because it shows a form of long term ownership.” In a fifty year lease, “We hope to show the county the things we’ve been able to do in that time that demonstrates the community impact in the county, and beyond.”

“With the help of all the individual volunteers, the amazing work of Phyllis Goldhammer, the Mankind project (a repeat Camp renter) stepping up for the last couple hundred we were short on a matching grant, and all the amazing work on the wine tasting fundraiser, we’re now in a great position to rise to a new vision.”

McNulty would also like to expand on the mission of serving “at-risk” youth and special needs children. A couple of ways to do this will be to “develop the Camp so it can host more than one rental group at a time,” and then provide “at least a month of Camp managed programs and activities that focus on these children for their development.”

Michael McNulty, presiding at a recent Camp Board meeting (new Treasurer Jamie Wick in background).

Michael McNulty, presiding at a recent Camp Board meeting (new Treasurer Jamie Wick in background).

Noting that helping “children at risk, has always been our underlying goal,” McNulty is realistic about what it will take to raise the Camp to a new level of focus for serving these core constituents, while still serving the renters, including several local churches, who have grown in size over the years. It would be a three part program, where “the first step is to remodel the camp by bringing all of the buildings up to a better standard… to make the camp more attractive by remodeling the kitchen and improving the use of the space in the kitchen and dorm (which can accommodate 150 beds).”

Next, you “bring more attractions, and amenities to the Camp, including obstacle courses, archery, athletic fields, and science signage on trails.” Third, is “being in a position funding wise where we can have the manpower and the expertise to manage the camp at the level of having a staff at the Camp.” While the Camp does have a caretaker who also serves as host, just one example of staff needs include affording “a cook for a week, so the Camp could personally host a group of 150 kids for a week.”

Regarding making all of this happen, McNulty first acknowledges all of the groundwork that has been laid by past Presidents, Boards, and the Camp’s recently departed Director, Phyllis Goldhammer. “With the help of all the individual volunteers, the amazing work of Phyllis Goldhammer, the Mankind project (a repeat Camp renter) stepping up for the last couple hundred dollars we were short on a matching grant; and all the amazing work on the wine tasting fundraiser, we’re now in a great position to rise to a new vision.”

This is the second year, for a series of Firstenburg Foundation grants, observes McNulty. The first year amount raised was $15k — which went to repair the dorm roofs. Now we’ve won another $10k matching grant which will “allow us to finish the apartment for the new caretaker home — a new two bedroom apartment.” Both of those grants were for matching funds, which means the total raised was $50,000. During this time, “we also repaired septic system,” adds McNulty.

How else we “get there”? With a little help from our friends. McNulty believes the recently initiated Camp Wa-Ri-Ki alumni program is “the biggest thing we can get going this year.” The board is reviewing different models like that of Camp Allegheny where alumni pay an annual $25 membership fee, then receive a bumper sticker and preferred Camp reservation status. It could even be possible that the Board of the Camp Alumni Association becomes a separate organization, if all involved find that to be a good way to meet Camp Wa-Ri-Ki growth plans.

It’s an ambitious vision, but McNulty doesn’t take much time worrying about it. He’s already looking forward to moving ahead. This year, the Firstenburg Foundation has “invited us to apply for a nineteen thousand dollar grant (non-matching, because of our previous success) which will be used to finish the roof.” And plans are in the works for a fundraising golf tournament, and a repeat of the successful wine-tasting fundraiser last year.

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