By AMANDA GRAY
THE GOSHEN NEWS
For Alyssa Fortriede, Milford’s Camp Mack has been a place of personal growth.
From beginning camp as a youngster to working at the camp as a young adult and even having her wedding there, Fortriede had many life-changing experiences at the small camp along Waubee Lake.
“I have had a lot of great memories and growing at Camp Mack,” Fortriede said.
That’s why she decided to return and volunteer with the 14th annual Camp Mack Festival Saturday, donating her time by making kettle corn.
“Nothing beats coming to the wilderness and seeing God’s creation,” Fortriede said, looking around at the camp.
Program Director Curt Rowland said the festival is a big fundraiser for the camp. All the money raised goes toward “camperships” and camp repairs, he said, with this year’s camp repair focusing on updating lights inside the Quinter-Miller Auditorium.
“We’re always giving kids the opportunity to come to camp,” Rowland said of the camper scholarships. “It’s important. Those are life-changing experiences.”
Rowland expected more than 1,000 people to come to the camp for the festival, which featured food donated from local churches, children’s activities, demonstrations, music and a silent and live auction. Around 90 percent of those attending have some affiliation to the camp, either as campers themselves or parents of campers, Rowland said.
“All of this is a way to make money for Camp Mack,” Rowland said. “We give away about $10,000 in scholarships a summer for campers, and work very hard to stretch that as far as it will go.”
Camp staffers are also working on a capital campaign fund to rebuild Becker Lodge, which burned down July 11, 2010. Ground will be broken on the new Becker Retreat Center sometime in the spring if funding goes well, but Rowland said the camp staff members are depending on the generosity of the public to help raise the funds.
“We need to have over half of the funds before we break ground,” Rowland said.
Camp executive director Rex Miller said the campaign is attempting to raise $2.5 million for the new structure. Locals can expect to see upcoming fundraiser dinners hosted by camp personnel.
“This festival is a big reunion for me, and a staple of support,” Miller said about the festival. “It’s a statement for how much Camp Mack means to people here at the camp and in the community.”
Beyond the Camp Mack Festival, activities at the camp continue in the coming weeks. The “Gone Fishing” Father-Son Weekend will happen Oct. 13 and 14, and the Build a Drum Workshop will happen Oct. 26 through 28.