As a father of a 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old boy and twin girls, Pleasanton resident Bing Hadley has been to Camp Loma Mar twice a year every year since 1999 with the Y-Guides and Princesses (an activity program for fathers and their children). It was during one of these trips that he realized the camp, built in 1914, had not really been renovated since the mid-'80s and was in desperate need of remodeling.
"I was looking at the cabins, the pool area and the restrooms, and they were just looking bad," Hadley said. "What pushed me over the top was when the Princess program grew, there were not enough cabins for everyone. My group stayed in the Rode Lodge, which use to be the original dining hall back in the '50s. It's a beautiful building and we had a great experience, but then I took a close look at the building and realized it probably needs to be condemned."
Hadley and some of the other fathers agreed that somebody needed to do something.
"Then I thought, 'I'm somebody,'" he said. As an engineer and sales manager for a high tech company, Hadley did not have any serious construction experience, but he knew he could organize and lead a project as long as he had enough volunteers. He approached then-camp director Dave Hembree with the idea, and together they kicked off plans to renovate the restrooms, outdoor chapel and one cabin. The YMCA provided the funding for the project--$10,000--and Hadley brought the manpower: 50 volunteers, most of them involved with the Y-Guides and Princess program. In just one day the crew completed the project, extending the life of each building and the camp.
That was last year. Now, Hadley has an even larger project in store--a $25,000 renovation of 11 cabins scheduled for the end of February that will include replacing doors and the heating system and fixing roofs, retaining walls, staircases and electrical systems. They are calling it, "Campaign to Restore the Original Dream."
"One of the big things is the heating system," Hadley said. "It's probably dangerous, and we don't want this place to become a liability."
Just like last time, Hadley is relying on a network of Pleasanton residents he knows from the Y-Guides and Princesses program, his men's group at church and friends and neighbors. Already, he's received a huge response from volunteers. Many are donating not only their time, but their specialized building skills--something many of the projects need.
"People are really stepping up to volunteer," Hadley said. "It's a grassroots, community-based effort to take care of the kids."
Want to help?
Parent coordinator Bing Hadley is breaking into two groups the volunteers who will drive down to Camp Loma Mar Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 25-26. The first group will go Saturday and do the major construction projects and the second group will go Sunday to put on the finishing touches and clean up. The YMCA doesn't have the funding for such a large project this time, so Hadley and his crew are securing donations and discounts from Home Depot, Lowe's, Richert Lumber and corporations located in the East Bay Area.
Hadley hopes the "Campaign to Restore the Original Dream" will not stop after February. He is in talks now with the YMCA to launch a project raising millions of dollars for long-term renovation projects such as rebuilding all the cabins and fixing their foundations.
"We call it 'Campaign to Restore the Original Dream' because we want to make Camp Loma Mar as great as it once was," he said. "We hope to have it turned around by end of 2010."
To volunteer for the "Campaign to Restore the Original Dream" project or make a donation, e-mail Bing Hadley at email@example.com.