Many will remember the July 2010 fire destroying the Becker Lodge built at Camp Alexander Mack in the 1930s. Devastating to be sure, but recovery was remarkable, community support was inspiring and the John Kline Welcome Center opened less than a year later in June 2011.
Opening of the welcome center replaced the offices, kitchen, dining and gathering rooms lost in the Becker Lodge fire. Since September 2012, though, Camp Mack has been in the second phase of the recovery as it hopes to raise $1.5 million in cash and pledges to build the new Becker Retreat Center at the site of the old lodge.
“Growing from the Ashes” fundraising campaign has raised $830,000 in cash and pledges as of Friday morning, about 55 percent of the goal, noted Rex Miller, executive director of Camp Mack, a conference, camp and retreat center on the shore of Waubee Lake near Milford.
Miller said the original Becker Lodge was completed in 1936 and was “an all encompassing building” at that time. Even though the old lodge was remodeled, needs continually change and the new Becker Retreat Center will mean more room for summer staff workers and families. “It (new building) would have all the lodging, meeting spaces and double and single occupancy guest spaces,” he said, and the new building would allow catering to be done for banquets.
Since publicly beginning the “Growing from the Ashes” campaign, a series of fundraising dinners have been held. “We have also made individual contacts and talked with various user groups,” Miller added, and businesses and foundations have been contacted.
Additionally, an Internet program advertised on Facebook was cited by Beacon Credit Union as its project spotlight, meaning $1,000 was given and that money went into the campaign fund. Another ongoing Facebook project is asking for 1,000 people to donate $50 each.
Miller indicated Camp Mack’s board of directors wants the new retreat center finished by September 2014. “We are trying to identify the start date with the contractor, who is DJ Construction,” he said.
Though construction would take place during the camp’s busiest time of the year in the summer, it would only affect summer staff and other arrangements can be made to house them, he said. “The new building is probably not going to be used for summer campers,” Miller said.
He is glad to show plans and drawings for the new Becker Retreat Center to anyone wishing to visit Camp Mack. It will utilize some of the foundation of the original lodge, as well as some of the original sculptured stones in the new fireplace.
If interested in making a donation or pledge, contact Miller by phone at 574-658-4831 or by email at [email protected].