STRAWBERRY POINT, IA – Ewalu Camp & Retreat Center, a Lutheran ministry serving Eastern Iowa since 1961, announces a $2 million capital campaign to renovate Cedar Lodge, a 60-year-old building at the main camp site that serves as the hub of activity for campers, summer staff and visitors, and to strengthen the organization’s ministry.
“For 60 years, Cedar Lodge has served us well, but its layout no longer meets our needs, and its aging infrastructure is in need of overhaul,” said Frank Johnson, Ewalu executive director. “Our plans to renovate Cedar will improve both the look and function of the lodge so that we might serve our guests, our campers, and our staff more fully.”
CLICK HERE to see the plans, learn more, and support the project!
Cedar Lodge is where hungry campers are fed and sheltered from storms; where summer staff live; and where retreat groups and rental partners gather for wedding banquets and luncheons and everything in between. Updating Cedar Lodge will help the camp minister to the needs of the wide variety of groups that use the facilities, including newer programs like Grandparent Camp and Hope Camp, which ministers to children with an incarcerated parent. Now, more than ever, accessible and adequate facilities have an impact on who can experience camp and how Ewalu can serve them.
UPDATES IN FOUR KEY AREAS
The campaign aims to strengthen the camp and retreat center’s ministry in four key areas:
- Greater hospitality, by creating ADA-accessible restrooms on the main floor, adding space for gatherings, adding air conditioning and upgrading technology for retreats and conferences. An addition will also enhance the main entrance to the building.
- More efficient food service and dining experience, by remodeling and expanding the commercial kitchen and streamlining the food preparation and serving areas.
- Enhanced living conditions for summer staff, with a new HVAC system to address moisture issues in the lower level of the building, remodeling the lower-level restroom and shower areas and remodeling the summer staff break room.
- Improved environmental stewardship, by increasing energy efficiency in the building and installing new solar energy collectors.
Campaign co-chairs Harry and Elle Blobaum of Waverly, Iowa, are excited to kick off the public phase of the campaign. “We have had a strong tie with Ewalu since the early days of Cedar Lodge in 1961 and have seen it serve thousands of youth and adults in many ways; it is tired and in need of plumbing, electrical, HVAC, kitchen and accessibility updates,” they said. “We are proud of this ‘place apart’ and encourage all donations to help us attain our $2 million goal as soon as possible.”
Mark and Jill Davidson of Onalaska, Wisconsin, also serve as co-chairs of the Cedar Lodge campaign and have been connected to Ewalu for decades. Mark grew up at the camp while his father was an executive director, and later both he and Jill were campers and then summer counselors at Ewalu; their children have also been campers and summer counselors. “Our family’s Ewalu roots span three generations. We are excited for our fourth generation and future generations to experience Ewalu,” said the couple. “We know that this project is vital for ensuring a commitment of quality service for this camping ministry.”
The Ewalu Board of Directors has already pledged to meet 10% of the $2 million goal, and donors may give a one-time gift or pledge over a three-year period. The campaign plans to break ground when 90% of the goal has been committed. Building plans, details about the renovation and a donation link can be found at ewalu.org/cedar-lodge-project.
“What an amazing time for Ewalu! These much-needed updates to Cedar Lodge will help us live more fully into our mission to connect the Word of God with the world of God,” said Johnson, who began his role as executive director in December 2021. Last fall, the camp retired its long-term debt and is in a strong financial position moving forward after celebrating 60 years of ministry with an all-camp reunion.
Camp Ewalu is a year-round ministry that serves over 200 Lutheran congregations across Eastern Iowa with nearly 1,000 youth participating in its summer programs and nearly 1,000 more through Day Camp evangelism programs. The camp also serves 1,500 environmental education students and nearly 6,500 additional youth and adults who come to renew and grow in their faith throughout the year.
The camp’s mission is to serve all people as a place to connect the Word of God with the world of God, with its main site and office located just west of Strawberry Point and the Stone Center retreat space just north of Strawberry Point.