The state of Nature Camp, Inc. is strong. We are a young organization, created in the 2007 timeframe to be responsible for the ownership, maintenance and operation of Nature Camp. Our mission is different from that of the Nature Camp Foundation, but we are joined in ensuring the health and success of the mission of Nature Camp: educating a community of interested individuals and inspiring a commitment to conserve and sustain the environment and its natural resources as responsible stewards of the Earth.
Since the last issue of the Afterglow, our dear caretaker, Charlie Truxell, retired effective August 31st. As soon as we learned of Charlie’s plans, the effort to document the Caretaker’s duties rose higher on the “to-do” list. Phillip Coulling worked with Charlie to get the Caretaker job description firmed up. That served as the foundation for an advertisement in the Caretaker’s Gazette (source for our past two caretakers) and a post on the Nature Camp website. A search committee was formed [members: Amy Kasdorf Gonzalez, Paul Cabe (current Director of Extended Education, NCI; past ED of NC), Joe Irby (Development Chair, NCF), and Philip Coulling] to interview and select the new caretaker. Several highly experienced, well qualified candidates were considered. We are pleased to announce that, effective October 15th, we have a new caretaker, Gary Barker. Gary brings a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience. He has been the caretaker for a large 4H camp in Minnesota, renovates log buildings, is quite the naturalist, and also a student of history, especially
Lewis & Clark and their expedition.
In the meantime, while it was empty, and now that it is the responsibility of NCI, we had a great opportunity to evaluate the Caretaker’s Quarters for appropriate renovation. Mike Meads, NCI treasurer, and Joe Irby, along with Cindy Irby, headed up the team to work on that. The thought was to get the Caretaker’s Quarters in move-in condition to permit the new Caretaker (Gary) to concentrate efforts on the rest of camp. Charlie Truxell certainly left the house in much better condition than he found it, so Mike and Joe’s job has been easier. Estimated completion date for this project is November 30th.
NCI is now meeting twice a year. At our June 2013 meeting, the board agreed that we would move to fill our vacant Facilities Director position. Our NCI board is populated by the NCF board, and then we elect members to their specific positions in the NCI structure. We were fortunate to have a volunteer – Ventry Smith, a long ago Nature Camper who has returned to the fold in recent years and worked closely with Charlie and with Jim Brooks, the NCF Facilities Chair. When you come to Service Weekend, look for Ventry, and
introduce yourself! Also, the position for Promotion & Publicity Director came open after Shirley Napps served 2 three year terms. Thank you Shirley! Emily Richardson has agreed to serve as the next director of Promotion and Publicity. Emily is a former camper and currently works in development for the Maymont Foundation in Richmond. She was instrumental in the Richmond fundraising efforts during the Campaign for Nature Camp of 2007. Shirley and Emily are working together for a smooth transition of efforts.
In other NCI news, the NCI board has resumed a presence at the opening days of each camp session. It allows our board to get a first-hand look at camp during the summer, check in with the caretaker, the summer staff and entertain questions from parents as they entrust their valuable children to our care. This enables us to support the needs of camp in a more directly informed way.
I would like to finish with a sincere thank you to all the Garden Clubs, other organizations and individuals who have been so generous to Nature Camp this year and every year. The donations continue to come in and are applied either to defraying the tuition of specific campers, or to our general operations, according to the intentions of the donor. Our corresponding secretary sends the thank you letter to you, but we ALL appreciate your contribution that makes it possible to educate our campers and encourage them to be the responsible, gifted, earth-loving citizens they truly are. -Amy Gonzalez