SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. — Camp Goodwill, where thousands of children from low-income families formed friendships and enjoyed swimming, canoeing, campfires and other activities, fell silent this summer for the first time in 90 years.

Soon, the picturesque camp on the shores of Crystal Lake could become a fading memory, the Sioux City Journal reported.

The camp owner, Goodwill of the Great Plains, cancelled all sessions this summer and now is seeking a buyer for the buildings and 100-acre-plus site just west of South Sioux City.

“The property is for sale, and Goodwill hopes to find a potential buyer who is able to focus on year-round services or put this excellent resource to maximal use in the community,” Goodwill of the Great Plains CEO John Hantla told the Journal last week.

Sioux City-based Goodwill of the Great Plains serves a sprawling four-state territory. Its core mission is helping individuals with barriers become independent through employment and education.

Hantla noted Goodwill also plans to continue to operate mission programming in South Sioux City, which includes job training programs, adult day programs and job placement programs.?

The South Sioux City camp was just one of two nationally operated by Goodwill organizations.

“While camp is a great facility, it is not a core mission program,” Hantla said. “The time has come for Goodwill to focus on the core of its mission programming through mission programs, community based vocational training programs, and job placement programs through its Connection Centers.”

The decision to dispose of the property comes after the nonprofit organization spent millions of dollars in recent years to expand and upgrade the camp, which opened at the current site in 1927.

In the early 2000s, new cabins were built, and amenities such as a miniature golf course, a computer lab, picnic tables, a climbing wall and rope course were added to the property, a wooded area just off U.S. Highway 20, across from Martin Air Field.

In 2012, the camp opened its $2.3 million Achievement Center, which replaced the camp’s aging dining hall, a former dance parlor that Goodwill bought in the mid-1930’s and moved across Crystal Lake.

The climate-controlled Achievement Center also allowed Goodwill to expand to year-round programming at the camp, as well as offer better access to people with disabilities.

In addition to a kitchen and commons area, the multipurpose building features a covered outdoor amphitheater that seats 150 and a room for arts and culture classes. The latter room doubles as a storm shelter with reinforced concrete.

Scores of individuals and public and private groups contributed funds to construction of the Achievement Center, which was one of Goodwill’s largest local capital campaigns.

Goodwill officials estimate Camp Goodwill has served more than 70,000 children since the local organization started offering camping experiences in 1923. Each year, about 2,500 children and adults visited the camp.

In recent years, Camp Goodwill had held six weeks of camp for up to 96 children ages 8 to 12. For many children from low-income families, it was their only opportunity to experience a summer camp.

The camp website currently lists options for groups or individuals to rent the Achievement Center, shelter house, chapel or cabins at the facility. Hantla said the rentals will continue while the property is for sale.

“This location has a beautiful ambience that is perfect for any rental: team building, business meetings, youth programs/activities, special events, gatherings and more,” the website says.


Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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