Michiana Christian Camp seeking volunteers to help renovate cabins

NILES — At any time of the year, it is easy to see how Michiana Christian Camp can feel like  a retreat away from daily stress. Surrounded by woods, that at this time of year are vibrant with fall colors, and perched on a lake, the camp capitalizes on southwest Michigan scenery.

With an effort to help more campers and retreat seekers of all ages experience the serenity, Troy Cleland, the program director, is tackling a renovation project at two of the nonprofit’s cabins and he is hoping the community can lend a hand in the process.

“This is a project that needs to happen,” Cleland said. “Our summer program is why we are upgrading them. We have run out of bed space. With this upgrade, we will be able to provide a more comfortable experience not just for the campers, but for volunteers.”

Victoria Knight, a Southwestern Michigan College graduate in the construction trades program, is helping to coordinate the volunteer effort.

The cabins will be renovated to offer more bunk space, heating and air conditioning and new and improved restrooms. With the upgrades, the cabins will be able to hold 36 bunks. The camp has a total of five cabins, two of which are being renovated. The other cabins will be upgraded at a later time. Camp officials spurred a Little Cabin in the Woods Capital Campaign to help fund the project through donations. The campaign is continuing to raise money to renovate the other three cabins.

A contractor is helping to assist with the major components of the project. Volunteers can call and request a time to help between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays, excluding Monday, Nov. 5. Cleland is hoping to complete renovations by Jan. 1.

“I look at it as beyond them needing help,” Knight said. “I look at it as community involvement in a way.”

Knight said she is seeking to get some SMC students and Berrien Springs High School students involved. Both schools have construction trades programs. The service project could therefore help to provide some valuable hands-on lessons to those interested in the construction field.

Those who volunteer will be helping with drywall and painting, installing doors and windows, among other tasks. Knight said construction knowledge is not required, but preferred.

Michiana Christian Camp is a nonprofit that is open year-round and provides camp services to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. While camp is not free, Cleland said they try to keep rates affordable and provide scholarships to students who want to attend camp, but do not have the financial means to do so. The camp is also utilized for retreats and leadership trainings and open to all denominations.

The camp sits on 65 acres and features a pool, dining hall, slip and slide and walking trails.

Knight was connected to the project through a mutual friend. She said she was inspired to help because she supports the camp’s mission to provide ministry and a fun environment to children.

“If people are looking to serve the community under God, then this is a wonderful opportunity,” Knight said. “If they want to get some construction experience, it is good in that aspect as well.”

Those interested in volunteering can call or text Knight at (269) 635-4425 or email at vaknight626@gmail.com. She recommended asking to volunteer at least a day in advance so that those working on the project know how many to expect.

To learn more about the camp, visit michianacamp.org or call (269) 683-4403. The camp is located at 7383 Steinbauer Road in Niles.

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