December 18, 2015
amp Marymount Director Tommy Hagey has a special Christmas wish this year to share with Marymount supporters: Please help repair the camp’s buildings.
So far, his wish is coming true.
This past summer, the camp, which hosts summer sessions for first through 11th graders, and other events throughout the year, had a stroke of bad luck with equipment breaking down throughout the camp. The cost to repair everything is $50,000 more than Camp Marymount can afford.
Rather than raising the price of attending summer camp, Hagey has asked Marymount’s alumni and benefactors to help raise the money. Their response has been very generous.
“I’ve been director of Camp Marymount for 19 years, and I’ve never seen anything as challenging as what we went through this summer,” Hagey said. “It felt like Murphy’s Law came to camp with us this year. Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong.”
The fixtures and appliances in various camp buildings went through a seemingly endless cycle of breakdowns and blowouts while the campers were on-site.
“Camp Marymount is 76 years old. And when you have 750 kids coming through every summer and a lot of old buildings on campus, things wear out,” Hagey said. “Everything reached its breaking point pretty much all at once this year while the campers were with us. It seemed that almost every other day a piece of equipment would malfunction. We had a hot water heater break down. We had a heating and air-conditioning unit shut down. We had two septic tanks malfunction, which meant that an entire field had to be dug up so it could be fixed. Two other hot water heaters broke not long after we fixed the first one. We had to replace the roof on one of the buildings after a major leak. And many of these new fixtures cost between $8,000 and $9,000 apiece. Not to mention we had maintenance people out here until 2 or 3 in the morning frantically working to help us out.”
The overall cost of making so many repairs was especially stressful. “Every year, when we finish budgeting and count all the money we’ve taken in, we try to put $10,000 to $15,000 into savings. And we couldn’t do that this time because the total cost of repairing everything was $50,000 more than we had planned for,” Hagey explained.
The camp staff was especially concerned about where the money for the repairs would come from, since they didn’t want to saddle campers with their financial burden. “We try to keep the cost of attending camp as low as possible, and stretch our campers’ money as far as possible. We want to be good stewards of the resources they’re sharing with us,” Hagey said. “If we asked them to foot the bill at summer camp, prices would skyrocket.”
The staff eventually decided to start a fundraising campaign among camp alumni and supporters to raise the money. The responses have poured in from around the country and the world.
“I put out an email to our benefactors and a post on our Facebook page and have been flooded with return emails, phone calls, and Facebook posts from people asking how they could help,” Hagey said. “We’ve had outreach from 20 different states, and from a dad in Mexico whose kids had camped here about five years ago. It’s been overwhelming in a good way.”
One donor was particularly generous. “One of the phone calls I received was from an anonymous benefactor and alum,” Hagey said. “He said that if we were able to raise $25,000 by the end of December, he would match it. We’re very thankful for his support and are trying to reach that goal.” As of press time, Camp Marymount had received $12,000 in additional donations.
In the meantime, Camp Marymount is going through annual maintenance and cleaning while the camp is closed down for December. “
We do more than just run our summer camp,” Hagey explained. “We host retreats for Father Ryan and JPII students. We have day camps for diocesan grade school students during the school year. We occasionally have weddings here. The SEARCH retreats for high school juniors and seniors happen here.
“We’re the only Catholic campground in Tennessee, so people from across the state turn to us when they’re planning events. We want to serve them as best as we can,” Hagey said. “Each December, we finally catch a small break. It allows us to do basic maintenance tune-ups and cleaning, and to create our budget for the following year. We have to get it all done before people start coming back in January.”
Hagey is very thankful for the outpouring of support Camp Marymount has received so far. “I feel like George Bailey in the movie ‘It’s A Wonderful Life,’” he said. “At the very end of the movie, the townspeople in Bedford Falls rally together to help George get through a rough patch with his business. The love and support just kept pouring in for him, and it has been for us so far too. We’ve been very blessed.”
Those interested in contributing to the fundraising campaign can write a check payable to Camp Marymount or go to campmarymount.com and click the ‘donate now’ tab.