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Climbing Wall Added to Covenant Harbor Bible Camp

LAKE GENEVA, WI (July 13, 2011) – Obtaining the new indoor climbing wall for Covenant Harbor Bible Camp took several years and some unforeseen twists that saved the camp at least $120,000, says Executive Director Ray Warren. The wall completes the Jackson Family Activity Center.

The $3.5 million center was dedicated in June 2009, and camp leaders intended to soon add the climbing wall, but the economic downturn forced those plans to be shelved. Later in the year, however, administrators learned that Dick’s Sporting Goods was discontinuing the use of climbing walls in its stores nationwide and would be willing to donate them to appropriate nonprofit organizations.

Covenant Harbor submitted an application that was approved in January 2010, although the camp would be on a waiting list.

Administrators were told that when a wall became available, the camp would be responsible for paying a licensed contractor of Dick’s choosing to dismantle and remove the wall from the remodeled store. The cost was estimated at $20,000, and the camp would be given a six-week notice to retrieve the wall.

In March 2010, Warren met with Tom Piacentine, a construction manager, who was interested in serving on the building committee for future projects. Warren asked Piacentine what he was working on, and the volunteer said he was flying to Iowa each week managing the construction of a Dick’s Sporting Goods store.

Warren, who was elated at suddenly having a new connection, asked if Piacentine would inquire about the wall. The construction manager learned none would be available for 2010, but the camp was at the top of the list for 2011.

It didn’t take long to hear from Dick’s. The company sent an email at 4 p.m. Friday, January 21, when the camp staff was preparing to welcome more than 250 campers for the first Deep Freeze Winter Weekend. It read, “Covenant Harbor’s climbing wall is ready for pick up” at the Dick’s store in Frisco, Texas.

A company representative explained that the timeline for the store’s remodeling had been moved up, and the wall already had been dismantled. The 17,000 pounds of equipment was on the loading dock outside the store in an unsecured area and needed to be picked up as soon as possible. “The sooner it is picked up, the more likely all the pieces will still be there,” he told Warren.

Four staff members flew to Dallas over the weekend and rented two moving trucks. At 9 a.m. Monday, packing began and was completed by 2 p.m. The loading went quickly because Evangelical Covenant Church missionary Leonid Regheta, who lives in Dallas, enlisted the help of four Russian men living in the city who he was discipling at the time.

The short notice worked to the camp’s advantage. Because the wall had been taken down, the camp didn’t have to pay the estimated $20,000 to have it removed. The wall itself is worth $100,000. “It was a tremendous gift,” says Warren.

Retrofitting the wall at the activity center went quickly because the company that originally designed the wall for the facility also manufactures and installs the walls for Dick’s, Warren says. Numerous volunteers helped disassemble and clean sections of the wall after it was unloaded.

The re-engineering of the donated wall sections, manufacturing of necessary missing parts and installation in the climbing room was roughly $75,000. Completing the climbing room with a bouldering wall, seven auto belays – which enables seven climbers to climb at one time under the supervision of one staff person – and the special padded flooring for the climbing room was another $10,000.

The Anderson Climbing Room was dedicated July 3 in honor of Larry and Diann Anderson, longtime supporters of the camp. They attend Naperville (Illinois) Covenant Church.

In addition to the climbing room, the 16,000-square-foot facility includes a full-size gymnasium that can be converted to worship space, a game room, and meeting rooms.

About the Author

  • Marianne Peters is a freelance writer, master gardener, and environmental educator. She lives in Plymouth, Indiana with her husband, two teenage daughters, and two mischievous ginger cats called Fred and George (after the Weasley twins of Harry Potter fame). From 2008-2013 she wrote the Creation Care column for Covenant Companion magazine. In 2011, her family decided to downsize by half, a decision that led to the publication of her book Declutter for Good: Share Your Life and Reclaim Your Life. She blogs about green living and gardening at www.freshwordswriting.com.

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