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Camp Ondessonk looks to future with growth

Camp Ondessonk is looking forward to opening a new mini-camp village for 8-10-year-olds by summer 2015.

Members of the “camp family,” including board members and donors gathered Dec. 6 at camp to break ground for the Fournie Mini Camp to be constructed in its own space behind an area currently called Brebeuf Flats The six cabins — three for boys and three for girls — will be able to house up to 60 campers.

The village will be located near the new dining hall and not far from shower and bathroom facilities.

“This is an important day for camp,” Dan King, Camp Ondessonk executive director, said as folks prepared to turn the first shovel of dirt.

Last year, mini camp was expanded to every weekend, and two of the existing units were set aside to be used exclusively for the younger campers, and thus unavailable for the regular campers.

Acknowledging this as “a good problem to have,” King said the two units would be returned to housing regular campers.

Major donors for the project are Thomas Cromwell and his wife, Jeanne Newton, also a niece of Msgr. John Fournie.

Newton has been involved with the camp for many years, first as a camper, then later as a volunteer.

She knew Msgr. Fournie well, and described him as “kind, funny and full of excitement and energy, no matter what idea or project he was working on.  He was proud of the fact that every child in his parish had the opportunity to be on a sports team.  Every child had a team T-shirt, and every child had the opportunity to “get in the game.” He put that same philosophy into play at Camp Ondessonk.”

Newton served on Camp Ondessonk’s board from 2005-2013 and she and her husband have been active donors to the camp, creating the Msgr. Fournie Scholarship Program there.

King invited the couple to camp last summer to talk about his vision for the future with the mini camp.

“The mini-camp village not only honors Msgr. Fournie’s role in the founding of Camp Ondessonk, but also his commitment that every child have an opportunity to be part of something special,” Newton said. “And Camp Ondessonk is a special place, where boys and girls are able to have fun, make friends, be recognized for their contributions, commune with the wonders of God’s creation, and leave their mark, no matter how big or small.  And every child gets a unit T-shirt, which would surely make Msgr. Fournie smile.”

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