Camp Millhouse prepping for more renovations

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SOUTH BEND, Ind.—Local non-profit camp, Camp Millhouse, who has served special needs adults and kids for 85 years, was one of many non-profit organizations hit hard by the pandemic. Due to pandemic protocols and staffing issues, it was closed for two years. This year, however, Camp Millhouse plans to reopen their cabin doors, but with some changes.

“I am so excited to have our campers back out here. Our families need the respite, our campers need to get out of their homes and to be able to be out here with their friends that they’ve known for so many years and do the activities they don’t get to do in their regular life! We are so excited to have them back,” Camp Millhouse Executive Director Diana Breden said.

Prior to the pandemic, Camp Millhouse was able to serve up to 60 campers a week. This year it plans to take in just 20. Last year it had plans to open but couldn't because of staffing issues. This year, there's enough staff to open, but to do all the fun things the camp has offered in the past, more staff is needed.

“We are hiring now, the application is very easy, it’s up on our website. You can do it online and then it comes directly to our email and we are scheduling zoom interviews. So, it’s really quick and easy to do. We need cooks, servers, cabin crew, counselors, we need nurses because we have nurses out here 24 hours a day as long as we have campers here,” Breden said.

Since its introduction in 1940, there have been numerous repairs and improvements made to the camp. In 2020, Executive Director Diana Breden noticed an area of the floor in the main lodge falling in, and upon further home inspections, found that years of moisture on the foundation was causing the floor to deteriorate.

It’s then, when Camp Millhouse started its “Camp Lodge Campaign” to raise money for a full renovation starting at the end of camp season in August. In order to complete the renovation, though, it’ll cost them $1.25 million. So far, it’s raised a little more than half that goal, at around $600,000. Breden says, it’s a crucial and urgent fix in order to carry out their mission to campers.

“It’s time to replace this lodge, we will tear the old lodge down, all the utilities need to be upgraded so all new utilities and then we are going to rebuild a new structure that is almost two times the size of the current lodge so it’ll serve us very well now because we have outgrown the dining area but will also serve many generations to come,” Breden said. “It will happen, there’s no doubt on whether or not this lodge will be rebuilt or not. It will happen, we have that faith. We just need to figure out how to get there.”

Camp Millhouse, is also just trying to get basic funds to stay afloat. Camp wouldn’t be possible without the generous donations from community members, businesses, clubs and organizations. This year financially, has been one of the hardest financially for camp.

Along with the funds being raised for the lodge, funds are also needed to purchase supplies, food for campers and staff, as well as utilities and other expensive bills. Fundraisers held by Camp Millhouse throughout the year before camp begins, helps alleviate some of these burdens, but not all of it. Despite these obstacles though, Breden says nothing will stop them from serving their campers.

“Fundraising is down. The fundraising that is coming in is going directly to the lodge which is fantastic and needed, but we also need funds to operate. We need funds to keep the lights on and be able to feed the campers this summer,” Breden said. “We are going to keep fighting. We are going to keep fighting to get to that number, reaching out to other folks and having our families reaching out to friends of theirs.”

Camp Millhouses first fundraiser of the year, “A Night with Our Stars,” will feature silent and live auctions, raffles, live entertainment and more. This is on Saturday March 12, 2022, doors open at 5:30 PM.

For more information about the events taking place, to donate, or to learn more about Camp Millhouse, you can click here.

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