ASHLAND – Even though construction of a new facility at Carol Joy Holling Camp has already begun, the project was blessed during a ceremony last Friday night.
The Hazel Dillon Lodge will replace the former Holling House on the TrailHead site at the camp near Ashland, which is operated by Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced NLOM officials to call off summer camp for the first time in 40 years, said Executive Director Jason Gerdes of Ashland.
The cancellation of camp was difficult for staff and campers who were all looking forward to spending the summer learning, growing and having fun at the camp. But it was also a small blessing in disguise because it allowed the project to proceed quicker than expected, Gerdes said.
Originally set to begin construction in August, work on the new facility began in June with the demolition of the Holling House, which served as a dining hall for decades.
Campers used to sleep in platform tents at TrailHead. The new building will house campers in large bunk rooms with attached bathrooms that accommodate eight youth. A kitchen and dining space will be used for meals and a lower level fellowship area will also serve as a storm shelter. The building is geared towards campers in grades 1 to 6, Gerdes said.
The 12,000 square foot building is scheduled to be ready for campers next summer. With the accelerated timeline, Gerdes said they will be able to lodge spring retreat guests in the new building at the beginning of 2021 to make sure all the kinks are worked out before the kids arrive for summer camp.
The facility is named after Hazel Dillon, the late wife of Sid Dillon Sr., founder of the Sid Dillon car dealership group. Hazel Dillon died in 2018 at the age of 84. She was active in many civic and faith organizations and was a member of First Lutheran Church in Fremont.
The price tag for the new facility is $3.2 million. In an announcement on Facebook posted May 31, Gerdes said because the camp was only $140,000 away from their fundraising goal they decided to begin work sooner than scheduled.
The camp also recently finished a new building at the family campground. The facility includes a pavilion, shower house and storm shelter.
The Holling House was donated by the Holling family 30 years ago. In addition to feeding summer campers, it was also used for meetings and retreats.
The camp opened in 1979 on land donated by the George and Irene Holling in honor of their daughter, Carol Joy.
The day after the blessing ceremony took place, the 32nd annual Quilt Auction was held at Carol Joy Holling Camp. Hundreds of handmade quilts and other items were sold in live and silent auctions to raise funds for the summer camp program.
The COVID-19 pandemic required many changes to the auction. Bidders were asked to wear masks and were not allowed to touch quilts as they were being viewed. A contactless checkout process was instituted and visitors completed the check in process before getting out of their vehicles.
The audience was limited to 500 people and chairs were placed six feet apart. Instead of the traditional barbecue turkey lunch, a boxed lunch was offered.
The results of the auction were not made available before press time.