A more-than-century-old campground in Western New York that serves thousands of children living with disabilities or serious economic disadvantage is celebrating the completion of the first phase of a planned expansion.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Monday at the new GEICO Woodland Lodge on the grounds of Cradle Beach Camp in Angola. After the finishing touches are completed on and inside the building, the lodge will provide a full-service kitchen, fireplace, handicap-access entrance and bathrooms and will accommodate up to 40 guests.
The lodge's common area features a large series of picture windows that provide those inside with a view of the woods right outside.
Dana Kimberly, a trustee for Cradle Beach Camp, is the fourth generation of her family to be involved with the camp. Her great-grandfather opened the camp back in 1888. She says the lodge sets a new standard for quality, while providing kids who may have spent all their lives in urban settings with a chance to enjoy some "zen."
"When you walk in and you see the inspirational windows, and how it looks out over the forest, I think children are going to come in and they're going to look at the world in a while different way," Kimberly said.
The lodge is the first of three planned new facilities. The next project is a therapeutic performing arts center. Pending a final confirmation that funding is fully in place, work on that building is expected to begin this fall. Plans also call for a science center next year, which would support the camp's Living Classroom program
Getting the lodge built was made possible in great part, say officials, by a campaign that convinced businesses to provide materials and labor at cost, at a sharp discount or at no cost at all. Bill Paul of Savarino led that project and was credited for keeping the overall cost of the project down.
"Through his building genius, he has found ways to construct an absolute gem of a lodge," said Joseph Marusak, who chairs the Board of Trustees at Cradle Beach. "Quality A to Z, and in doing so, has come up with ingenious ways to save us tens of thousands of dollars, probably approaching six figures."
By Michael Mroziak