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The Haven at Star Lake to open summer camp in July


STAR LAKE — Dates have been set for a Christian summer camp opening this year at The Haven at Star Lake, a nonprofit, waterfront retreat and recreational center in the town of Fine.

The 2014 Haven Games will start the week of July 13 and run through Aug. 8.

“Since it’s the year of the Olympics, we wanted to pattern it after the Olympics,” said Teresa M. Von Riegen, programming director for the camp.

Since it’s the first year of the camp, Mrs. Von Riegen said, it will kick off with four weeks of camp sessions for elementary and middle school children.

July 13-18 and July 20-25 are the two week-long sessions for children ages 8 and 10 and July 27 to Aug. 1 and Aug. 3-8 are the sessions for 11- and 13-year-olds. Mrs. Von Riegen said organizers hope to have 50 children in each weekly session.

“We’re excited and nervous about this,” said Thomas M. Buckingham, executive and finance director from Severna, Md. “Our biggest challenge right now is getting the word out to the local community.”

Mr. Buckingham and some of his family members purchased the former satellite campus of Houghton College last year for $350,000.

“We had no intentions of doing this two years ago, but when we saw the property, we saw what it could be,” Mr. Buckingham said.

Most of last year, they spent time painting, cleaning and putting new roofs on some of the 19 buildings on the 40-acre property.

“We’re almost ready to open immediately,” he said.

But there are a few more things needed before July 13, including a permit from the state Department of Health.

“I’m hoping to get all the paperwork we need to the state by the end of the month for them to review,” Mr. Buckingham said. “Then we should have all the permits we need by middle to late April.”

The camp already has a permit to operate the main lodge, he said.

The camp is looking to hire five counselors that will fit the state’s requirement of being at least 18 years old with previous camp counseling experience.

“We’ve been working with local churches trying to find people to participate in our counselors-in-training program,” Mr. Buckingham said.

Mrs. Von Riegen said the camp also is looking for five high school seniors and young college students to train to be counselors by assisting the counselors this first year.

Following the Olympic theme, the children will be split into teams of eight or 10 and will select a country to represent in activities like sports and boating competitions. Mrs. Von Riegen said they’ll also have noncompetitive activities such as a water slide and canoeing, camping and hiking adventures.

She said the camp also will have a biblical theme focusing on teaching children how to endure hardships through faith.

“We work our Christian message in the theme, but it’s going to be fun-oriented,” Mr. Buckingham said. “On rainy days we’ll have crafts, ping pong and indoor games.”

Mrs. Von Riegen said she’d like to see the camp grow in the future, with six to eight weeks of camp and the inclusion of high school students.

Organizers would also like to operate over next winter, with a goal to run year-round.

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