Stable Round-Up 2023: Built by Volunteers
By Sue Mullen
Stable Round-up was a huge success and was appropriately held the weekend of Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, 2023. This year, Camp hosted 47 volunteers and 43 Lodge members. Executive Director Dan King reported that there was also an addition of a new group of valued volunteers who are camper parents.
Projects completed include replacing Back 9 floor boards; building and installing counters and cabinets; cleaning and oiling bridles, saddles and children’s boots; cleaning and sanitizing bits and helmets; caulking and fortifying the Barn’s grain bin; installing two new gates; building a goat playground; grooming 60 horses; cleaning up roller coaster horse trails; reattaching, fortifying and painting Stable A walls and floors; replacing and installing posts and boards in the Barn; mulching beds around Le Couer; trail maintenance; and preparing the Health Center for summer camp.
As Claire Hatch was working in the barn, she said, “There is a lot of activity going on at the stables today; cleaning and oiling saddles, grooming horses, replacing posts and building tables!” Groups of volunteers and Lodge members were involved in these activities at the Barn. Former Equestrian Director Danny Clancy and his crew replaced posts at the end of barn stalls and repaired gates. Camp Ondessonk Board President Chris Cahnovsky said, “New posts will provide a sturdy foundation for the barn; built by volunteers and rebuilt by volunteers thirty-nine years later.”
Matt Hohman, Andrew Hohman and Dave Kittler built a goat playground. Goats and goat games were added in 2019 for mini-campers. These campers have greatly enjoyed having an alternate farm animal experience. Hohman said, “I can’t wait to see the goats playing on their new equipment.”
Another group of volunteers including Steve Rheinecker, Stephen Pitt, Mary Helen (Whitright) Rheinecker, Ray Hogan, Gary Szymula, Gabi Hodges and George Boatwright refurbished old Stable A that now is used to quarantine newly arriving horses. They did an amazing job repairing the wall and fortifying the floor.
Volunteers continued work on the Pete Korte Lodge staff duplex. Former camper and staff member, Kathleen Alcorn was joined by Mike Alwood and Tommy Thomas installing electrical. They roughed in 80% of the electrical with Thomas as the foreman. Thomas printed the plans and drafted the supply list ahead of time.
They worked late Friday night to prep for the Saturday workday. Other volunteers also worked outside on the staff home installing and wrapping the exterior siding on the ends; doing all of the peaks which required more time and measurements. When the Lodge is complete, it will house up to eight full-time staff members.
The Health Center was getting prepped for summer camp. A significant amount of work was completed, including cleaning and purging outdated supplies. Goals for the Health Center included getting down on paper an introduction of responsibilities for medical volunteers to have a better understanding of Camp rules and procedures.
Camper parents who have not yet registered their child for this summer were contacted by Senior Director of Communications Tony Vrooman and Lodge members via a phone-a-thon in order to get more campers registered. Yearly, this program shows great success for increasing summer enrollment and retention. Twenty-three campers were added as a result of these efforts.
Adventure & Group Services Director Dr. Evan Coulson worked with Alyssa Macuiba and a crew of former summer staff coordinated by Steve Bushong and Ethan Fowler to continue the development of the new camper trail from the scenic overlook to the Grotto.
Coulson also coordinated a crew of ten Lodge members who cleared the Echon Trail, the Homestead Trail and the Upper Phantom’s trail in preparation for heavy spring and summer use. Reese Mahoney, Peoria Lodge Council Official, was in charge of supervising Lodge members who worked on the White Trail beginning near Chabanel and wrapping around Lake Echon. Other Lodge members worked on mulching flower beds around the main area of Camp. When asked what their favorite part of the weekend was, Lodge members reported they particularly valued service projects and learning from the adult volunteers.
As Saturday evening’s dinner came to a close, Camping Services Director Nolan Hurst praised and inspired us all by reminding us that Camp Ondessonk was and is built by volunteers. As she was departing Sunday morning, volunteer and former staff and camper Suzy (Munn) Mahoney exclaimed, “Giving back to a place that has given me so much…my bucket is full again! Go fill yours…Heepwah!”
Click here to learn more about volunteering at Camp Ondessonk.
Click here to learn more about events like Stable Round-up