Madison County: Local bank 'looks out' for camp

Margo Frink, Staff Writer 05/09/08More articles
After vandals destroyed the Madison County Children’s Camp last month, stealing copper tubing and smashing through the facilities with a sledgehammer, the camp will open as scheduled thanks to a contribution from Oneida Financial Corp. and Oneida Savings Bank.

During a press conference held May 5, bank president and CEO Michael Kallet handed a check for $35,000 to camp officials, money from the Oneida Savings Bank Charitable Foundation.

“We cannot thank you enough,” said a tearful Pamela Fuller, president of the Madison County Children’s Camp board. “We are truly overwhelmed. The donation will cover the lion’s share of the cost of repairs needed in order to open Camp Lookout on time for the 700 plus children that we host annually.”

“When we heard the news it kind of broke our hearts,” Kallet said. “We know how important the camp is to the children of Madison County.”

Kallet said the bank board met and decided, “We need to do something.”

“Some children have little more in life than Camp Lookout,” Kallet said. “If we can’t step up, who can?

Leo Matzke, executive director of the children’s camp said vandals entered camp facilities about two weeks ago in search of copper. Taking a sledgehammer and wheelbarrow from camp storage, sinks and toilets were smashed, a back wall was removed, the washing machine and ice machine were pulled from the counters in search of copper. The thieves also stole stainless steel pots and pans.

“They maybe got $2,000 in copper,” Matzke said. “It’s going to cost us over $40,000.”

The children’s camp, founded in 1922 is located on Route 26, just south of West Eaton near Bradley Brook Reservoir. Of the camp’s 30 buildings, 22 are cabins that house campers and staff members. There is a dining and recreation hall, an infirmary and buildings for arts, crafts, nature and athletics.

Through the summer months, the camp’s programs include educational and fun activities for children who would otherwise not enjoy a vacation.

“This is the first time in the camp’s 85-year history that we suffered such an unfortunate event, and one of such magnitude,” Fuller added.

Although service organizations have provided hours of labor maintaining the camp throughout the years, Matzke said camp officials will hire professionals to do the repairs because building codes need to be addressed.

“The piping will be replaced with a product called PEX,” Matzke said. “And we are going to put up a sign [reading] no copper [on the premises].”

Insurance on the camp does not cover theft or fire but Matzke said camp officials are hoping to be able to purchase that coverage for nine months of the year. He also said the board may hire someone to monitor the grounds during the spring because the camp has suffered minor vandalism in the past during the spring months.
Other businesses and organizations also have stepped with monetary donations.

“Alliance Bank gave us $2,800 to fix the nurses cabin,” Matzke said. “”We’ve had a number of donors including an anonymous one for $5,000 and a personal donation of $1,000.”

Also contributing were the Chittenango Lions Club, the Masonic Lodge in Hamilton and a 6-year-old Morrisville-Eaton student who, with a cup in hand collected $150.

The first service groups will arrive at the camp June 9. The camp opens to children July 1.

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