FEYC Director Message
- Written by Nick Miller
Friends and fellow Elks of Florida,
Summer Camp 2017 was another great season, largely in part to you! I think this was probably our best season ever for Elks getting the word out about camp and sending campers our way. I know at times it was more of a struggle for Elks than it has been in the past due to our new online software, but this technology is really paying off. Distributing pertinent medical information such as who needs critical medicines, inhalers or EpiPens was faster and more accurate than any previous summer. The time needed for us to get a camper or staff member on the road for medical help was cut in half without having to wait for their papers to be located, compiled and copied. Finally, having data available to be quickly searched and sorted allows us to dig in to the reasons behind why some staff don’t make the cut or why some campers don’t show up for camp. Through this, we can actually solve some problems before they happen.
However, as much help as this software has been this past year, there’s always room for improvement! We’ve been working nonstop at the camp to brainstorm better ways to use the system, but we need your help. At the midyear convention in November, the camp will have a session dedicated to discussion on the software and the changes that will be made for 2018. This is our only chance to hear your thoughts and to share our ideas before the 2018 enrollment process begins in February. If you don’t read any other part of this article, please, read this: find the people at your lodge who are responsible for getting kids to camp and tell them to meet with us at midyear convention!
As many of you know, not all of Summer Camp 2017 was fun. During the early morning of Thursday, July 27, a fire destroyed the maintenance and laundry facility here at the youth camp. No staff or campers were anywhere near the building, and the response of our Marion County firefighters was outstanding. The building was a total loss, but we are already under way with plans to rebuild. I need to take a moment, however, to thank some very special people. Camp Boggy Creek and Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center both opened their doors to us without hesitation when they heard of our misfortune. They have allowed us to use their laundry facilities without any charge whatsoever until we can get our new facilities. They may not be Elks, but they sure act like it.
Since the fire, we’ve also weathered Hurricane Irma. I’m happy to say that the damage to the camp was minimal, although the cleanup was massive. Fortunately, we’ve got an incredible team here, and everyone from full-time to part-time was on hand to help out. With our kitchen closed, executive chef, Cliff Richard, even led a kitchen crew – originally scheduled to be feeding 400 high schoolers for the week – out to rake and load debris alongside our grounds and maintenance staff. These efforts from your FEYC crew had the camp looking like new and ready for the next group of kids in just over a week.
And, man, have there been some kids! Tallahassee Elks Lodge once again brought the Gretchen Everhart School to camp for an incredible weekend for their special-needs students. Tampa Elks Lodge brought a group of at-risk students from Robinson High School to experience a day of team-building and confidence-boosting on the ropes course. Miami Arts Charter School brought 400 students for a week of school-away-from-school. And, best of all, your very own Children’s Therapy Services was just here for Family Camp! During Family Camp, every family that has been served by our therapists over the last year is invited to spend a weekend at camp. Therapists, volunteers and camp staff provide supervision and activities for the kids while Mom and Dad get to relax at what one mom called “nothing short of a resort!” For families that can have a difficult time taking a vacation, this weekend is critical, and we are so proud of our therapists for giving the time to make it happen.
As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve as the director for your Florida Elks Youth Camp, and thank you for all you do as Florida Elks. Due to your efforts, we will mold the next generation of youth into amazing American citizens!