Monday, August 25, 2008

What is an RTV and Why Does Anokijig Have One?

Have you ever seen this orange vehicle running around Anokijig and wondered what it is or where it came from? This vehicle is a Kubota RTV900 and it came to us through the generosity of one of our board members, Ken Cavan and his wife, Melody.

We're not sure what the "RTV" stands for, but we think "Really Tremendous Vehicle" fits pretty well. The RTV is like an ATV, only larger and more versatile. It can comfortably carry two passengers, while hauling a load in it's bed and towing a trailer. It also has four-wheel drive, which makes a big difference around Camp's more rustic roads and is powered by a very efficient diesel engine.

For many years, Anokijig has relied on large, V8-powered pickup trucks to assist our staff and volunteers in various projects around Camp. While effective, these trucks were often overkill, because they were so big and used so much fuel, when sometimes all we needed was something just a little bit bigger than an ATV to get the job done. From hauling camper luggage and hay for the horses, to putting up fenceline (as pictured above), the RTV really gets the job done for us and does so at a fraction of the operating cost and environmental impact of the pickup trucks we'd have to use otherwise.

If Anokijig had unlimited resources, we would've purchased one of these vehicles a long time ago. Unfortunately, we have bigger budgetary fish to fry and have to rely on the generosity of our donors for some of these fantastic additions.

That's where Ken & Melody Cavan come into the picture. Even before becoming a board member for Anokijig, Ken had been a long-time supporter of Anokijig and made regular trips to Camp every year, with Meldoy accompanying him on many of those visits.

These visits gave them both more intimate knowledge of our daily operations and allowed them to identify areas where help was most needed. They knew that by purchasing this RTV for Anokijig, they would not only be adding a useful vehicle to our fleet, but significantly reducing our operating costs and carbon footprint for many years to come.

Ken & Melody have often commented that one of their favorite things about donating to Anokijig is that their gifts go exactly where they were intended. If they want to give Camp an RTV, boat engine or a saddle, they can do that and know that their donation isn't being siphoned off by phantom administrative expenses or redirected to a parent organization's bottom line. We're so thankful for their support and involvement with Camp. It wouldn't be the same place without them!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Welcome To Turtle Island!

Anokijig has a new section for the 2008 camping season, Turtle Island. The section is nestled in the woods, tucked in just behind the Kingdom of Moo, right below Hickory Hillcrest. Expanding our capacity at Camp was not an easy decision, given the size of our mortgage, but our staff and board felt it was the right thing to do for many reasons.
Since becoming an independent camp in 2005, Anokijig has strived to maintain and enhance it's long history of camping excellence, while ensuring that it is accessible to as many children and families as possible. Over the years, Anokijig's enrollment has increased steadily and as many of you are aware, most of our weeks are now at capacity.
Last summer, our waiting list hit 200 campers. While it's great to be so popular, we were also disappointed, that we simply didn't have enough space for all the kids who wanted to visit. Our staff and board recognized this trend back in 2005, so we've been discussing and debating expansion for the past several years. We finally decided last fall to move ahead with a comprehensive expansion project.
Expanding our capacity at Anokijig isn't as simple as just adding a few beds and cooking a little more food. The expansion started with the addition of a new scoreboard (most people call them bathrooms). Sheboygan County and the American Camping Association both have standards & ratios we must maintain and before we could do anything else, we needed to make sure we had enough toilets, sinks and showers for all the new campers. In order to ensure the bathrooms would be ready for the summer of 2008, work began in the fall of 2007.
The Kohler Corporation generously donated many of the fixtures in this new bathroom and several contractors tried to discount their work as much as possible, which also helped defray our costs. We also had several individuals and organizations make important contributions to this project. Even with all of that assistance, the vast majority of the cost for this project remains unfunded, but we do anticipate that the increase in camping revenue will eventually cover the costs of the expansion.
Our original plan was to expand our sleeping capacity by building additional cabins, which might have been similar in style to our Thunderbird cabins. Cabins would provide us with more capacity for groups who visit Anokijig in the early-Spring and late-Fall, when sleeping in a tent becomes too uncomfortable, but those will have to wait for now. Until then, Turtle Island will serve as a relatively inexpensive way to add more capacity to Anokijig and increase our impact on children and families who will benefit from having spent time in such a wonderful, natural environment.
In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing more aspects of our expansion project, so be sure to subscribe to this blog, so you can be alerted when new entries are made. Thanks for supporting Camp Anokijig!