Community Update: 2016 Camp Season Changes

Dear Rising Sun Community:

Several months ago, an urgent message was conveyed to the Camp Rising Sun: The CRS campus at Red Hook is in urgent need of repair. 

In July 2015, the LAJF Board of Directors approved a strategic plan that gave the community an opportunity to raise funds to reopen Red Hook and run two 7-week programs, as preferred in the alumni survey. The initial estimate to conduct the necessary safety renovations at Red Hook was $550,000, with more renovations that would have to be made later, plus the added cost of operating two sites. The Board emphasized the renovation costs were only estimates and challenged the alumni community with three fundraising targets.

Fundraising and Costs

A "Sprint" capital campaign was led by the LAJF Fundraising Committee toward the first fundraising target, and yielded $555,000 in pledges. With $495,000 collected, the Board felt it was enough to instruct the Building & Grounds Committee to move forward. A competitive bid for an engineering firm was awarded to Crawford and Associates. Their report was received in late December and indicated that the scope of work necessary to reopen Red Hook exceeded the initial estimate by over $350,000 for phase 1 projects, those aimed to remedy the most pressing health and safety issues. The increase in estimated cost was primarily due to the discovery of a failed septic system. In addition to the significantly increased project cost, the scope of these projects are such that construction work would not likely be completed before the start of Camp.  

Our Values, Our Responsibilities

The Rising Sun community is committed to the health and safety of all campers and the Board is entrusted with the responsibility to ensure this standard. Based on the new engineering report, including both cost and timing of necessary repairs, it is not prudent to use the Red Hook facility for Camp operations in 2016. More time is needed to further evaluate the repair needs, their costs, and to raise the necessary funds in order to make a long term strategic plan to return to two camp sites. 

It remains the goal of this Foundation, and the Board, to reopen Red Hook with alumni support and to run two seven-week Camps in the future.

2016 Camp Program

Last night, the LAJF Board of Directors voted to deliver the Camp Rising Sun program in two 4-week sessions for girls and boys separately. This decision involved input from the alumni community, including a survey of alumni associations, individual alumni discussions about the engineering report, feedback from 2015 camper program evaluations, 2015 staff reports and input from LAJF staff. We believe this program model best suits our needs in this moment of time. We hope to return to two 7-week Camps with support from our alumni community.

Lessons from CRS 2015

Operating two 4-week sessions in 2015 challenged us to rethink how to accomplish our goals by adapting our well-established program model. Necessity is the mother of invention. The 2015 leadership team implemented 6-day weeks, creating 5 "Camp weeks" and allowing the community to move through the stages of group development with weekly Council as an anchor. The limit of days gave us an opportunity to build a co-leadership model in which two sachems collaborate to lead. The innovation provided incredibly meaningful growth in communication and interpersonal skills between sachems. The roles of Projects and Instructions sachems were added giving campers great responsibility in managing important program areas. Our talented staff with support from the Program Committee will continue to improve upon the 4-week delivery of Camp Rising Sun.

Next steps

Work will continue at Red Hook, including further site assessment and planning for repairs and renovations that will sustain campers and the CRS community for the next 100 years.

You can be involved!

We are in touch with our world-wide network of selectors and we will provide support in order to assure we welcome a strong group of campers. In recent weeks beloved counselors have come forward with their interest in leading our Camp season this summer. If you would like to be part of this important work, email us at We are confident that we will learn from our experiences and build upon our successes to make 2016 a CRS experience for the next group of tomorrow's leaders.

As a silver lining, we plan to offer a special Alumni Weekend between CRS sessions. This will allow alumni to have the Clinton campus all to themselves and enjoy a traditional camper experience, complete with Instructions, Projects and Council. We are hoping for the reunion to feel like a mini-world reunion. Save the date: July 23-24

Donations for Red Hook

We value and appreciate the generosity of the 240 donors who have contributed to the effort for Red Hook repairs and renovations. We maintain these gifts in a restricted account especially for this purpose. At this time there are three options available to donors:

  1. Transfer your gift to support CRS 2016: Your gift will be used to fund the 120 camper scholarships for 4-weeks. Your gift will support both boys and girls.
  2. Maintain your gift: If you take no action today, we will maintain your gift in the restricted bank account used exclusively as the fund to support Red Hook repairs and renovations. Project work will continue, including further site assessment, architectural plans, permit applications and construction (as weather permits).
  3. Request gift return: While we hope all donors will support the future renovation efforts for Red Hook, we will honor all requests for gift returns. Please use this online form for this purpose. Requests will be processed weekly, with forms received by Monday each week being issued by the subsequent Friday.

Your continued commitment is essential for the long-term, sustainable future of Camp Rising Sun.

It is with a heavy heart we make this decision well into the camper selection process. We appreciate the efforts of our hard-working, dedicated selectors around the world and of our donors who generously support us through the Annual and Capital campaigns. With this new information on scope of work and construction timeline, we could not responsibly plan to reopen Red Hook for this summer.


The LAJF Board of Directors and Staff