August 20, 2014 - 4:55 PM
VERNON - Camp Hurlburt has been part of the Vernon landscape since 1931 and now Trinity United Church wants to continue the spirit of the camp by directing proceeds from the sale of the property toward programs for kids and families, regardless of religious affiliation.
The Eastside Road camp received thousands of young campers each year from the church as well as others from a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds. As with camp, the new programs the church invisions would be active and all-inclusive, something that would have an impact.
"(They) had their lives shaped by their participation at Hurlburt," former Tinity United board member Barry Dorval says.
A fundraising campaign began in 2006 to raise $3 million toward rebuilding the aging infrastructure of Camp Hurlburt but was abandoned when they failed to reach the goal. Only $673,666 was pulled in — $346,377 from the congregation and $327,291 from the community. With declining attendence each year followed by limited operations in 2012-13, discussion over a two-year period led to the decision to close shop and put the property up for sale, according to a church press release.
Now, with money to channel into various year-round community programs, Doval sees an opportunity.
"There's a sense of excitement as we think about how we might be involved with the youth, young adults and young families of Vernon," Doval says.
But the programs have yet to be designed and will require an assessment of community needs, Rev. Jeff Seaton says.
The destiny of the three-acre Camp Hurlburt property is also being considered.
"Trinity is exploring options for the sale of the property, including some or all of the site being available for park use," Seaton says.
Those who donated large amounts to the rebuild project will be contacted to discuss their donations. Dorvill admits, the decision to sell the property was not an easy one.
"Many in the congregation have deep connections with the camp," he says. "While we are confident that the right decision was made, many will continue to work through the loss of Camp Hurlburt."
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—This story was updated at 7 p.m. Aug. 20 to add a photo.
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