Early this year, Hammond Mill Camp launched a campaign to raise $160,000 by Jan. 31, 2024. With just two months left to go, the board that runs the camp announces it has reached 72% of its goal.
The fundraiser campaign coincides with the camp’s 75th anniversary and is intended to pay for capital improvements including major roof repairs, which have been completed, plus ongoing remodeling and repairs to core structures and replacements of essential items needed to keep the camp facilities useable to the public.
The nonprofit, board-operated facility tucked away in the Mark Twain National Forest on CC Highway a few miles west of West Plains provides a place for summer youth camps, weddings, family reunions — some of which have met year after year for more than five decades.
The camp’s stated mission is to provide affordable facilities that provide those living in nearby communities an opportunity to share quality time in a rustic, out-of-the way setting close to nature; a safe place for children to learn about God, nature, themselves and the value of community; and a place for families to create memories and bond.
The camp was first constructed under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program. After the CCC left the grounds in 1936, it was used for a time as a stave mill, lending the camp its name, Hammond Mill, reader Fern Ledbetter told the Quill in 2017, when a five-week series concerning the camp’s history and future was published in the newspaper.
In 1947, a Bible School missionary named Neal Jantz moved to West Plains and began looking for a place to host youth programs for the American Sunday school Union. He found the old CCC camp less than a week after arriving in West Plains. With permission secured from the U.S. Forest Service within the next two months, Jantz’ plan to hold Bible Camp that summer was in motion. In 1953, a board of directors was formally organized and Hammond Mill Camp was officially incorporated.
“Jantz was a good businessman who involved the community in his projects gaining donations and volunteers,” said camp historians. “In 1962, Mr. Jantz was finally able to sign a lease with the U.S. Forest Service ‘formalizing’ his creation, Hammond Mill Camp, Inc.” That first lease, for 20 years, was granted with the stipulation that “the existing army barracks-style campground would be made into a more functional camp that could be used by groups in the area,” Jantz’ daughter, J.J. Truesdale told the Quill in 2017.
The camp’s board of directors is comprised of two representatives from each group using the camp repeatedly for at least three years. The paid position of campground manager is contracted out by the board, and the campground manager lives onsite and sees to daily operations.
The board signs an annual use permit with the U.S. Forest Service, to which the camp pays an annual fee based on the number of attendees. Youth groups are the focus of the agreement and are subsidized. Families and others pay higher fees compared to youth groups.
To date, 1,760 contributors have raised more than $115,000 for the camp’s 75th Anniversary Capital Improvements Fundraising Project, said board members. This includes two families and a church that gave at least $10,000, plus a grant of at least the same; two banks and a family that gave between $5,000 and $9,999; five banks, four people, three businesses, two families, a church, a group of people and a memorial contribution giving between $1,000 and $4,999, plus a grant; 17 people, three families, two churches, two businesses, a nonprofit organization, a professional organization and a memorial contribution, plus a grant providing between $100 and $999; and five people, a business, a memorial contribution and proceeds from more than 1,700 tickets sold for a giveaway drawing amounting to contributions of between $1 and $99.
Donations of cash, labor and materials will be collected for the campaign through Jan. 31. To contribute or to learn more, contact Board President Robin Mustion by calling 816-686-4155 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Campground Manager Zohn Engelhardt, 417-293-8365. Financial donations may also be made online at www.paypal.com/paypalme/HMCamp65790, or by mailing a check to Board of Directors, 139 Hammond Mill Drive, Pottersville, MO 65790.
Follow @hammondmillcamp for the latest updates.