Volunteers raise $10,000 to make Camp Wiyaka director position full-time

Camp Wiyaka on Sandy Pond in Richmond, New Hampshire. A fundraiser to provide $10,000 for a full-time director for the camp for one year has succeeded.

Camp Wiyaka on Sandy Pond in Richmond, New Hampshire. A fundraiser to provide $10,000 for a full-time director for the camp for one year has succeeded. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By MAX BOWEN

Athol Daily News Editor

Published: 05-27-2024 11:46 AM

ATHOL– A fundraiser to fund a full-time director at Camp Wiyaka for one year has succeeded, and organizers are hoping this will spur enough interest to make the position permanent.

According to an announcement sent by Shaun Bennett, who organized the campaign, nearly $10,000 was donated. Paired with existing funding, this will pay the salary for the full-time role. For the last few years, the Athol YMCA only funded the part-time camp director, according to YMCA Director Jennifer Gordon.

“We wanted to raise enough money to ensure that the director would be a full-time employee in order to be able to expand the camp’s ability to market itself, enroll campers, and hire and train the staff to enrich the camp experience,” said Bennett in the announcement.

Gordon said that current camp director, Hailey Brunk, will be made the full-time director. This is a 40-hour, year-round position and Gordon said that much prep work is done during the off-season.

“You really start the big camp drive in February,” Gordon said. “There is a lot of prep work that happens throughout the year.”

Gordon added that she believes this full-time role can be budgeted in the future. She credited the volunteers who helped make the fundraiser a success.

“It was nice that this was absolutely volunteer-driven, that they understood the importance of having someone year-round,” Gordon said.

Camp Wiyaka is located in Richmond, New Hampshire, and is operated by the Athol Area YMCA.

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Bennett, who first attended Camp Wiyaka in 1949, noted that the funds were raised mainly from camp alumni who attended many years ago.

“I am very grateful for the generosity of those who donated to this effort,” he added.

Founded in 1921 by then-YMCA Director Jonnie Johnston, Camp Wiyaka has served the youth of the greater Athol region and beyond for more than 100 years. Weeklong sessions this year will be offered July 7 through Aug. 11.

“Jonnie was an invaluable driving force behind Camp Wiyaka for many years,” said Bennett. “Most of the donors recall with fondness and admiration his tenure in those roles. He was an extraordinary leader.”

The campaign only provides the Athol YMCA sufficient funding for one year for the position and, Bennett is hopeful that this experience will spur action to make it permanent.

“I’m confident that by having a full-time director, the Athol YMCA will see how much of a difference it makes to the camp. The fact is this was a grassroots, word-of-mouth effort aimed at only a very small part of the camp’s alumni network,” Bennett said. ”Imagine if there were a formal, more comprehensive effort aimed at all the camp’s alumni – both men and women – as well as its many friends. I think I speak for the donors of this initial effort when I say we are pleased to have done this to help ensure the success of this upcoming camp season, and we’d love to see an effort to formalize it and see it continue.”

Max Bowen can be reached at413-930-4074 or mbowen@atholdailynews.com