Groundbreaking at Camp Del Oro

May 16, 2017 | by JP

Salvation Army camps truly serve the total personal and spiritual needs of campers through a creative, healthful experience.  It is difficult to overestimate the significance this can have on a child's life - especially when that child has few opportunities.

Ground was broken on a new project at The Salvation Army's Camp Del Oro in the Sierra Foothills.  Officers, staff and donors gathered to commemorate the beginning of this project, made possible by a recent estate gift.  Work has begun in earnest this fall, with an expected Summer 2017 completion date.

The project will see the fruition of a $20 million master plan for camp - a plan 14 years in the making.  Included will be three lodges, a gymnasium and a chapel.  This project became a reality due to the generosity of the late Stephen Ball. The Salvation Army was heartened to hear that Ball, a Northern California native, left The Salvation Army $7.2 million to assist in its mission.  He loved nature and animals, so it is fitting that so many will be able to experience the great outdoors due to his generosity.

"In 2002, The Salvation Army purchased this camp," said Ivan Wild, Del Oro Divisional Commander.  "Ever since then, it's been an ongoing dream to make the master plan come to life."

One thousand children came to Camp Del Oro in the summer of 2016. Nearly 600 of them gave or re-committed their heart to Jesus.  All of them were nurtured.

"It's so important for young people across the Del Oro Division to have the experience of Camp, because of the impact that camp can have.  Many children are less advantaged, and they need to have this opportunity to experience the great outdoors, form life-long friendships, and for some of them, the opportunity to experience hope," said David Bentley, the Del Oro Division's Director of Development.  

But the new camp facilities are not just for kids.

"We can now rent the facility out to church groups, businesses and our own Army groups," Bentley said.  "It gives us enough beds to accommodate all of those groups.  These rental groups will help offset the cost of running our summer camp program.  So our hope and prayer is that we'll have enough rental groups that will come through, that will help send more kids to camp."

When complete, the project will ensure that Camp Del Oro will have 278 beds. Both large groups of children and rental groups will now be well accommodated.

Andy Cassano, a planner with Nevada City Engineering and former City Planner for surrounding Nevada City, helped with the master plan, and assisted the Army through the permit process with Nevada County.  Mr. Cassano is elated that the funds have become available for this project to see completion.  

"I wondered whether we would ever be here," he said.  "So many people are about to be influenced by this investment."

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