Buildings and Grounds

5 Year Strategic Plan Update: Renovations

5 Year Strategic Plan Update: Renovations

During these past few months, renovations have occurred on both campuses, in ongoing efforts to maintain and improve the Camp facilities. In this blog post, we share renovation photos and project updates from Red Hook and Clinton campuses.

Clinton Facility Assessment is available in draft form

Clinton Facility Assessment is available in draft form

The Clinton Facility Assessment is available in draft form. “CRS’s infrastructure and buildings and grounds provide a viable base to which improvements can be made. Although improvements will be a significant expense, with careful budgeting and planning in the next five years, CRS can be restored, revitalized, and prepared to expand and flourish for many more years to come.” 

Fridays from Camp: Cameron

Fridays from Camp:

When the tents come down, once counselors have wrapped up and a sense of calm and quiet takes over camp only one person stays to make sure our grounds are taken care of for generations to come. Cameron Rylance, who has been with us for 10 years as the facilities manager, is the last man standing. The rounds of applause he gets during camp reunions are the clear sign of how much the CRS community appreciates his hard work.

Janessa Schilmoeller and Mads Nissen, Camp Director and Assistant Camp Director this year shared this about Cameron:

“He has the ability to carry out the job and take care of the place while simultaneously being a vital part of program and being a great help for campers. It shows his great love for the program and that love is mutual.
Cameron is family, and his family is camp family. He has a lot of passion for what he does, the quality of projects he produces and the thought that he puts into them really shows that. He is as much part of the campers experience as any other counselor and he helps them achieve their goals.
We know we can count on him to make this experience the best it can be, and we hope he know he can count of us too.”

Cameron is a key figure of Camp Rising Sun year round. He is vital during the season, when he helps the project counselor and facilitates projects using his knowledge in virtually anything that needs to be built. He helps campers realize their wildest dreams and ideas! When the season ends, he sets up short, mid and long term maintenance plan and tries to figure out how to better spend the budget.

We interviewed Cameron to learn a bit more about him and to start celebrating his 10 years with LAJF. 

How did you start working at CRS?

I saw an add in the newspaper and after a few interviews, I visited Camp in February, with a foot of snow. I had 4 months to figure everything out until camp started. This has been a great job for me personally. After becoming a single father, the flexibility of the winter schedule has been very important for me to take better care of my son Ben. And during the summer Ben’s schedule is more flexible so I am able to work through the most intense season at camp.

How is your relationship with the wider CRS community and LAJF?

My relationship with LAJF, the Board and the CRS community has grown over the years. I have come to get to know them better and I feel trusted by everyone, this has made me more confident in being outspoken about the issues of the facilities. 

What do you like the most about working with young people?

Their enthusiasm! Once campers get involved with the program, they want to do things intensely. I really enjoy making them realize the steps that it takes to prepare.

Making campers think that while turning on a light is the end result, there are steps that lead up to a project: to paint the dining hall wall, you have to remove the furniture, clean it, prep it, paint it and then paint a mural. I like to see the spark in their eyes when they realize that.

Also, how can you not enjoy making 50 teenagers happy? Watching them practice instruments, discuss philosophy, seeing them grow and come back as counselors and visitors. It is a demonstration of the strength of the program, people coming back to get involved years later. 


What are the craziest projects that campers have wanted to build?

Some campers wanted to build a zip line, or a big carnival ride, some campers want to build another tennis court… It would be awesome, but sorry, let’s work on the things that we have. I try to steer their enthusiasm to something more manageable because we have to think long term. Just because something looks cool now, we have to prioritize. I have finally learnt to put my foot down while trying to get them hyped about other things that interest them.

What are some things that get on your nerves?

Campers love putting tape on the walls, and just in general they love to paint stuff, which often times ends up in the wood work and it’s really hard to remove.

How is your relationship with the Buildings and Grounds Committee (BG)?

It’s awesome that for the first time since I have been working here the BG and the Board have embraced the fact that we cannot put bandages on things anymore. Things have to be fixed, and quality program needs quality facilities. Trying to develop emergency funds and contingency funds, setting a realistic maintenance budget aside, these are all necessary and great ideas. The BG and the Board have been very proactive in this. I appreciate the members of the BG and their backgrounds, Michael Saratovsky, he is in the trade, he knows his stuff. Seabrook is an engineer, Spurge is very knowledgeable too.

 What do you think of the Strategic Plan which is currently seeking feedback from the CRS community?

I agree and I think it’s the way to go. It’s the future. I also like having 4 week seasons and would like to see how that works out these 4 years. Kids are very busy these days: scouts, band, academic commitments, sports, this is not like when we were young.


What is something you would like the CRS community to know?

I would like them to understand the magnitude of the Clinton facilities. This campsite is big and requires a lot of year-round hard work. The fall is all about the landscape, and making sure every last chair left by a camper in the most random of locations is back in its place. Winter comes replacing screens, and winterizing everything, boilers, water system machines, draining water…. On top of that, we operate a public water system, which requires sampling reports and much more.

Where do you see CRS in 5 years?

I see continued support from the alumni community for our program, which is very unique, continuing in the path. I feel more positive about our future than I have in the last 8 years. Uncertainty is not an option anymore. I am very positive about this legacy living on. This has been my favorite camp year. The staff from Janessa on down, everyone has been great. There has been a lot of returning staff: former campers or former staff. It is very helpful for have people that know the program. And the campers were fantastic.

Cameron, thank you for all you do! Camp Rising Sun would not be the same without you!  

Don't miss the chance to visit Camp and chat with Cameron during our  Fall Retreat! More info here.

Building and Grounds Update from Tom Spurge

We had a productive day at RH last weekend as we began the process of "clearing the way" to allow our professional partners access to the mundane yet necessary elements of our infrastructure which require attention. A great big hao-hao to all the volunteers who showed up in support of our efforts and who worked hard to dig through decades of dust and memories to clean out the attic of the old house and the crawl space of ED Hall of lots of stuff which had been accumulating, seemingly forever. 

We have much more to do, but at least the process has physically begun and we can look forward to an earnest middle from our auspicious beginning. 

Thanks also to all of the B&G committee for their efforts thus far, especially to Mickey Seabrook for traveling from South Carolina to be with us. Also a shout out to Christina, Helene and Damian for joining us for the Committee meeting and augmenting the conversation with layers of thoughtful ideas and input. 

I would also like to personally recognize the ongoing efforts of JC Calderon in helping to keep the issues confronting us in the fore and for mobilizing and ushering the ongoing fundraising efforts through the larger community.  Thanks to our neighbors Susan Hinkle and Brian Williams for engaging us and their offers of help and support.

We are happy to report that the RFP's (request for proposals) have gone out to select firms for purposes of choosing a professional firm that will evaluate the site conditions and facilitate the production of the design and construction documents necessary to effectuate the reconstruction of the RH campus. We expect to have those back in a manner consistent with our expressed timeline therein, so that we can begin a vetting process, choose a firm and enter into a contract as soon as possible. 

Stay tuned for more!

Here are links to a lot more information from the Buildings & Grounds Committee:

  1. Request for proposals (RFP) sent to area architectural firms
  2. Letter sent to several architects
  3. June site report - 169 pages, along with photos, detailing the facilities needs for Red Hook and Clinton