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The current winter season has already brought with it record-breaking cold, various snowstorms, freezing rain and icy and treacherous conditions.
Many have been affected by the inclement weather, including at Shady Oaks Camp in Homer Glen, a summer camp for those with disabilities.
On Feb. 3, two of the buildings at the campsite sustained major damage when pipes burst because of the extreme cold. Dorm 4, the largest staff house at the camp, and the pool house both sustained the damage.
“A pipe behind one of the toilets burst and flooded the whole building,” Shady Oaks Camp Executive Director Scott Steele said of the dormitory. “We had to call the insurance company, and they gutted the building, pulled out flooring, baseboards, door frames, all of that, trying to dry everything out so we don’t have to pull the dry wall.”
For the pool house, which is not kept heated like the dormitory, a pipe burst and soaked the insulation in the walls, with the building needing to be warmed up before repairs can be made, Steele added. The deductible is $5,000 for the camp’s insurance coverage, with about $1,000 raised so far from the community.
Shady Oaks Camp is to enter its 72nd summer camp this year, and it is completely funded from annual fundraisers, parents fundraising and some private donations, in addition to several small grants, Steele said. The buildings need to be fixed by the end of April, when major prep for camp begins.
“We’ll go to the insurance company for the deductible, then hopefully they’ll cover the rest of the repairs,” Steele said. “It’s an insurance company, so they’ll try to pay for the least amount as possible, and we need to stay on top of the restoration company to make sure to report everything.”
Steele added after everything is dried out, they will learn the further extent of the effect on the drywall and if there is more currently unknown lasting damage. Regardless, the unforeseen expense will cut deeply into Shady Oaks if the money can’t be raised to cover the deductible. If that doesn’t happen, the cost will possibly eat into the operational budget for camp, impacting things like recreational supplies and affect staffing.
“Unfortunately, these things happen,” Steele said. “Recouping that $5,000 is going to be tough.”
While monetary donations are definitely needed, Shady Oaks Camp is also looking for help with the repairs, whether that is members of the community donating supplies and/or labor to the cause. Flooring and drywall will likely be needed, and those skilled in installing those things are welcome to volunteer.
Marcie Flores is on the Board of Directors for Shady Oaks Camp, and her son, Joshie, will be spending his sixth summer at the camp in 2019. She said when she first heard of the damage in the camp’s buildings, she didn’t realize how bad it was until she actually saw it for herself in person.
“All the flooring came up, there’s mold around the walls, the plumbing itself, the pipes are just shot,” Flores said of the dormitory.
Besides that, she noted things like bedding, bunk beds, furniture, chairs and essential living items were either damaged because of the water from the flooding itself or after effects like the mold. The pool house has damaged toilets, stalls and walls.
“I would love for the community to know how important Shady Oaks is to my family and everybody else here,” Flores said. “My son is disabled and not able to go to summer camp like any other kid. Campers go here to be themselves, and there’s no judgment.
“There is just an array of activities [at camp] for people like my son. Without this place, we have nothing in the surrounding counties.”
She said without the help of the local community or businesses they depend on, it will be a setback for so many people and families who attend the camp, and that she couldn’t imagine what would happen if they didn’t get that aid.
The result could also mean dipping into the little money in the camp’s savings account for emergencies, Flores said.
“The emergency fund is there, of course, for emergencies, but how would we be able to recover that money?” she said. “We would not have the emergency fund for another dire situation, and this would be long-lasting. Not only are we paying all these repairs with the little money we have now, it would take years to fill that fund again and have a domino effect.”
Those interested in donating to Shady Oaks Camp can do so by clicking on the PayPal link on the homepage of www.shadyoakscamp.org or by going directly to www.paypal.com and searching Shady Oaks Cerebral Palsy Camp.
Donations can also be mailing a check (writing flood recovery in the memo line) to Shady Oaks Camp, Attn: Scott, 16300 S. Parker Road, Homer Glen, IL 60491.