DEDHAM, Maine — After having fallen into disuse and neglect a decade ago, a lakefront camp that caters to children and adults with disabilities is poised for a major expansion.
Camp CaPella has plans to build two new overnight cabins, a site that can accommodate up to five tents, a new parking area and a network of community trails on 25 acres of hillside overlooking Phillips Lake, camp officials said Wednesday.
Doris Buffett, sister of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, has pledged to donate $80,000 to go toward construction of the two cabins. Doris Buffett, who owns a summer home in Rockport, gave the camp half a million dollars in 2010.
The expansion plans are geared toward addressing increasing demand for overnights stays by the camp’s clientele, according to Executive Director Dana Mosher, and to provide the community with recreational opportunities by allowing public access to the trails. The summer camp relies on the support of the surrounding community, both in terms of volunteers and in financial donations, he said, and it wants to give back to those who have helped the camp get back on its feet since it reopened in 2008 after a three-year closure.
“It’s a new phase for Camp CaPella,” Mosher, 68, said Wednesday.
The former Bucksport paper mill employee said the already-underway expansion coincides with his retirement next month as executive director.
Laurie Turner, who has worked for the past 14-plus years as program director for National MPS Society, a North Carolina-based disease advocacy organization, will assume the top post at the camp upon his departure.
The land where the trails and cabins will be located is directly west of the Lucerne Golf Club and the adjacent Lucerne Inn. An access road to the site from the end of Poplar Road is under construction. The two cabins and tenting site will be located northwest of the parking area, with most of the planned woodland trails located beyond the cabins in the same direction.
Mosher said the goal is to have the cabins and tenting site completed and hosting campers by the end of next summer. With the cabins, the overnight capacity of the camp is expected to roughly double, from about 12 campers per week to 22 campers per week.
When the trail network might be completed, he said, depends on how long it takes to raise the money to complete the project.
Mosher said the camp has dedicated $15,000 to the construction of the access road and parking lot and estimated that the entire project will involve more than $300,000 worth of work. The $80,000 pledged by Buffett is not expected to cover the entire cost of building the two new cabins, he said, but he is hoping to make up the difference through donated construction services and materials.
“We’re going to try to make the dollar go as far as it can,” Mosher said.
The camp has received all the necessary state and local permits for the project to move forward, he said.
Mosher noted that, when the camp reopened in 2008 after three years of being shuttered, it did not own the shorefront property at the end of Poplar Road where it hosts campers throughout the summer. Now, thanks entirely to the private donations that fund 100 percent of its budget, Camp CaPella is debt-free and able to plan for its long-term future.
“We have to raise a couple hundred thousand dollars a year for our operations,” Mosher said. “We don’t get state grants, we don’t get federal grants. It’s all private donations.”