Nature Camp Foundation News

New Facilities Director and Service Weekend Chair Positions

If you were at camp this past fall you are aware that Jim Brooks has stepped down from his position as Facilities Chair. Jim served dual positions for Facilities Chair on both the NCF and NCI boards. He oversaw many different and difficult tasks and spent the past 25 years pouring his heart and soul into Nature Camp to assure that the place we all love and cherish will endure for many future generations. Thanks to Jim and his tireless dedication, service weekend is the successful event that it has become today. Moving forward we now will have two people who will do their best to fill Jim’s shoes.

To fill the Facilities Director position vacated on the NCI board, we would like to introduce Ventry Smith. For those who have been to recent service weekends, Ventry is a well know entity. By the time most of those who come to service weekend arrive, Ventry has already put in several days of work. Ventry comes to us from the city of Suffolk, VA and has spent the past 27 years working in municipal utilities for the city of Portsmouth.

Ventry boasts of some history at camp. He first attended camp on a garden club scholarship in the summers of ’78 and ‘79. Ventry did not make it back to camp for many years. His story is that he “found” camp one summer while hiking in the George Washington National Forest in 2007. It is fortunate for us that he has returned to camp to help guide us through the next however many years of Service Weekends.

To fill Jim’s position that was vacated on the NCF board is someone most everyone is already familiar with at Service Weekend. Art Maguire is the new Service Weekend Chair for the NCF. Art has served as the Service Weekend coordinator in recent years. Art came to camp on a garden club scholarship in the summer of ’78, missed the next year and returned in ‘80. The summer of ‘82 was to be his last as a camper, but upon arrival for that last session, Col. Reeves told him he was now a counselor and to get busy. Art spent that summer and the following two as a counselor. Art’s career has encompassed working for many different businesses, acting in a senior management capacity. Art’s sister, Catherine, also a camper and counselor, encouraged Art to get involved with camp, which he did the fall of 2009. We are glad that he has returned to a place that holds so many memories.

The NCF and NCI have worked together to define the roles these two gentlemen will have in their new positions. Ventry, as Facilities Chair for the NCI works closely with the Nature Camp Executive Director (Philip Coulling), and Caretaker (Gary Barker) to identify facility needs. He maintains a long range facilities plan and sets priorities for work during service weekends. The Facilities Director coordinates with the Service Weekend Chair to ensure appropriate tasks are lined up and resourced. He supervises the actual work being done, both by volunteers and by contractors. He ensures the NCI Board is fully informed of ongoing facility progress and needs, and makes sure equipment and materials are ordered for Service Weekend projects.

Art, as Service Weekend Chair for the NCF, works closely with the NCI Facilities Director (Ventry) to ensure key Service Weekend tasks are identified. Once the projects are decided upon, Art organizes and allocates volunteers to perform appropriate tasks during the Service Weekends. Art also collects and maintains skill set and contact information of volunteers to ensure their service is recorded in the NCF database, and that they receive in-kind donation credit giving them voting status with the NCF. Art will be communicating with the Nature Camp volunteer community via eTapestry to alert them to upcoming Service Weekends. Philip, Gary, Ventry and Art met this March to plan out this year’s projects and to determine some of the long range goals for the maintenance of camp. By involving all four of these key players in a cooperative process we hope to more efficiently meet the most urgent needs of camp. There is a need for maintenance to be done outside of normal service weekends and where appropriate, volunteers can be identified to help with these projects. The work identified for Service Weekends results in a long list, yet we never seem to complete all tasks. This is by design, and the expectation is to complete as much as possible without killing ourselves.

With this in mind though, we have been able to accomplish an impressive amount of work in just these two weekends each year. Everybody’s efforts are greatly appreciated and we hope that, moving forward, we can continue to make Service Weekend a fulfilling and joyous weekend for everyone. Hope you can join us!!!!