Crystal Springs begins repairs of tabernacle

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The future of the 124-year-old centerpiece of Crystal Springs’ campgrounds appears to be a whole lot brighter these days.

Repairs to the camp’s Stella Cooper Memorial Tabernacle’s rotting roof structure began late last month, with crews successfully replacing the damaged shingles and decking on the 12,000 square-foot structure’s south side. Work continues on the tabernacle’s north side, and is expected to be completed within the next two weeks, said Camp Director Dan Stuglik.

“This has been a goal for me since I started three years ago,” Stuglik said. “It was one of things I figured would happen one of these days down the line. It’s kind of surreal to see it happening now.”

The repair work follows a successful fundraising campaign Stuglik began last fall, raising $48,000 through events and private contributions. Raising around $20,000 from a dinner-dance fundraiser back in November, former attendees of the United Methodist Church campgrounds have been giving back to the institution, including those living as far away as Colorado, Stuglik said.

“Whether it was $25 or $5,000, every check gave me goose bumps,” he said. “It’s mind-blowing to see people get behind us for this project.”

The massive tabernacle serves a crucial role in the camp’s youth programming, serving as a space for everything from plays to indoor games of roller hockey, Stuglik said. It also is frequently used for weddings, with several ceremonies lined over the next few months, the director added.

“What makes us special is the ability to use that indoor space,” he said. “To house 150 kids at once, regardless of whatever the weather is outside, is what makes us different from other camps.”

The history of the structure itself was another one of the things that drove Stuglik in his quest to save the tabernacle. The construction of the structure was partially funded by area businessman Sam Cooper in 1890, who named it as a tribute to late daughter, Stella, in order to keep her memory alive for years to come.

“It’s neat to be able to keep that promise going, by maintaining the building and keeping it going,” he said.

With the total cost of construction costing around $67,000, the camp is receiving money from the United Methodist Church council to cover the remaining costs. The camp is continuing to seek funding to help repay the council for their contribution, Stuglik said.

The director is also eyeing other renovations to the tabernacle in the near future, including repainting the building and replacing its 14-foot doorways, using funds from the camp’s operating budget, he said.

“I hope that people continue to help,” Stuglik said. “We feel what we’re doing is important, not just for our programming but for our history.”

For more information contact the camp at (269) 683-8918.