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| Karen DeMeulenaere Dunlap
Camper through Tayi Awa 1969
Camp Fire Iowana Board President
CHANGE. That dreaded word. Most of us resist change, especially when it affects people or places we love. Yet change is one thing we cannot avoid as life continues to evolve around us. 2012 has been another year of changes for the Iowana Council and Camp Hitaga.
My name is Karen DeMeulenaere Dunlap (Tayi Awa 1970-71 and WoHeLo Medallion recipient). I am currently serving as President of the Board of Directors of Camp Fire Iowana. The past few years have been exciting and more than a little scary as we have embraced positive changes in the Council and at the Camp. As you know by now, we have transitioned from the volunteer leadership of Marian “Cookie” Zupke to Amy Russell Geiger as Executive Director. We have hired a full time marketing/development director, Nancy Olinger, to bring Camp Fire out of the shadows and into prominence again as a premier youth development program. Last summer we experienced a 30% growth in campers under the first year of Mike Rule, Camp Director. That has cost money and a fair amount of growing pains, but has been well worth it.
By the time this is in print we will have refinanced our operations through City State Bank, Central City. Plans are being laid for an expansion of Council and Camp programs over the next few years. Old favorites like the Parent/Child campouts and Halloween Trails will remain and be expanded. FYI -We have partnered with the American Red Cross and this year Halloween Trails will be held on the wooded grounds of the American Red Cross campus in Cedar Rapids. The Camp Fire Iowana office resides within the Red Cross building. This also gives us the opportunity to reach out to people who may not otherwise get out to Camp. Many new programs involving greater outdoor involvement are being planned at this time.
A number of years ago local archery enthusiasts partnered with Camp Hitaga to form the Hitaga Archery Club. Archery is now being taught in Alburnett, Central City, and other local school districts. Our board is exploring various ways to expand the relationship with surrounding communities by offering traditional clubs, family clubs, outdoor plant and animal identification programs, geocaching and conventional orienteering, trail rides, hunter education, summer swimming lessons, and other outdoor-based programming consistent with Camp Fire guidelines.
Change is difficult. Growing up at Hitaga, I am haunted by the refrain of a song.
“HI-TA-GA, will you be just the same,
and will you wait for me ‘til I return again?
On the breeze comes Hitaga’s answer clear,
I’ll always be the same, and I’ll be waiting here.”
Camp Hitaga and the Iowana Council have experienced changes and at times faced difficulties throughout the years. A big change was when Camp Fire nationally became a co-educational organization. A time of great challenge was when we absorbed the failing Davenport Council. Changes in leadership also created a struggle for us. Many of us would like to keep camp exactly as it was in our memories. Unfortunately that is not realistic. A common saying in economic development programs is:
You’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.
If you always do what you’ve always done,
Change!!! Camp Fire continues to change to meet the needs of a changing population. Camp Hitaga changes as facilities are upgraded, trees fall to storms, and programs evolve to meet today’s needs. Not all change will be popular. Fewer kids attend conventional residential camp today. The Board continues to search for the right mix of programs and events so that we remain profitable. In the fall of 2012, with the approval of National Camp Fire, we will offer our first-ever hunting season on camp property as a fundraising event. It will be limited to the months of October through mid-January only, and will be limited to the peripheral woodlands, and not the main section of camp. The fundraiser will then be evaluated by the Board to see if and when it might be implemented again. If successful, we would consider adding several programs to our standard curriculum emphasizing outdoor safety, plant and animal identification, and conservation management for lay people who share a love for this camp and the out-of-doors.
Change is inevitable. We cannot stop change. However, we can shape change. Camp Fire is focusing on three major areas for growth:
1) Outdoor Adventures (including summer camp)
Change! God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.bla
Please keep us in your thoughts, prayers, and financial giving as Iowana Council and Camp Hitaga advance into our 100th year as a council and 82nd year as the Camp on Top the Hill.
My best to you, may your skies be blue…
and May all of your dreams bloom like daisies in the sun.
Karen DeMeulenaere Dunlap
Camp Fire Iowana Board President
Camper Late 70s - early 80s
Day of Caring Volunteer
|Stacy Zelaney signed up to volunteer at Camp Hitaga during Day of Caring this past May. As she stepped onto the grounds of Camp Hitaga after all these years, memories from days of being a camper (late ‘70s to early ‘80s) came flooding back to her.
“I loved my experiences at Hitaga,” said Stacy. “I learned archery, swimming, how to ride a horse, stern a canoe...even survival skills including how to build a fire. I learned about tree and plant identification, how to follow a trail, and the importance of the togetherness of a group and the independence of an individual.”
Stacy fondly recalled the covered wagons and was sad to see them gone. In describing a typical camp day, she said, “The day started with the bugle blowing to wake the campers. We’d dress and have breakfast. Then there was a mad dash to your first activity of the day. Each day was filled with lots of activities. In the evening we’d dress in uniform for dinner, followed by a large campfire with lots of singing. I remember being completely exhausted by the end of the day. Climbing into my bunk, I’d let the day float away as I drifted into a deep sleep.”
Selling candy was how Stacy paid for camp. One year she sold enough to pay for two weeks! The closing ceremony meant a lot to her. “I was given the opportunity to learn skills through camp activities. I felt proud from working so hard and being recognized.”
When asked if there was a special message she would share with campers today, Stacy stated, “Take advantage of all the opportunities to try new things and learn new skills - things you might not otherwise get to try.” She went on to say how summer camp experiences helped to shape her future by teaching independence and survival skills. “Camp taught me confidence, to respect nature, and how to get along with others,” Stacy commented.
Soon we may be seeing the next generation of campers from her family as her children are approaching camper age.
Below are photos from Stacy’s Camp Hitaga scrapbook of memories. 1) Packed and ready to head out for a week of summer fun at Camp Hitaga. 2) Stacy outside her Aponita cabin 3) Remember the covered wagons?
from Susan Lagerquist Anderson:
“On Sunday I went with my daughter to drop off my granddaughter for her first time at camp. I was so struck by how little Camp Hitaga had changed since I went 50 years ago! The buildings and grounds were just as I remembered. I felt I had been taken back in time. Coming down that hill I felt 10 years old again and heading to dinner to set the table. Thank you for not modernizing a very special place. Have we ever figured how many children have been touched by the time they spent at Camp Hitaga? I was. My daughter was. And now my granddaughter. Cool.”
|Susan posted this quote on July 3, 2012, as a
comment on the Camp Hitaga Facebook Page.