HANCOCK COUNTY — A local nonprofit campground is one step closer to expanding its facilities thanks to a $10,000 contribution from the Hancock County Tourism Commission.
Leaders from Nameless Creek Youth Camp, located southeast of Greenfield along County Road 600E, hope to break ground this summer on a 3,600-square-foot facility that will serve as a year-round lodge for the nonprofit.
Jerry Bell, president of the campground, which is entirely volunteer-driven, said the lodge, which could accommodate as many as 150 people, will allow the facility to expand its uses.
Currently, the campground hosts youth camps, family reunions and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, but the 12.7-acre property has plenty of room to grow, Bell said.
Plans for the lodge include a kitchen, bathrooms, a rear deck and a large group space, Bell said. The lodge will be heated and cooled year round and will also have Wi-Fi.
He said he hopes those features will draw events that need a large indoor space, including weddings and business retreats, he said.
Benny Eaton, vice president of the organization’s board of directors, said the majority of activities at the campground take place between May and October.
Eaton hopes the new facility could draw visitors in during the campground’s slow months.
The $10,000 show of support from the tourism commission, which came at the group’s meeting this week, will cover costs to pour concrete for the foundation and to purchase and install a septic tank, Bell said.
The group is now about $20,000 away from reaching an estimated total cost of $82,000, Bell said.
That sum covers material costs, but a team of volunteers from the campground, as well as its board of directors, will handle a lot of the labor, Bell said.
One of the nonprofit’s regular volunteers, who works as an engineer, designed the plans for the lodge, Bell said, and another has experience installing drywall and laying electrical wire.
Since plans for the lodge began in 2014, Bell said dozens of donations have come in from individuals, businesses and community organizations across the county. Major supporters include Sertoma of Greenfield, the White Family Foundation and the Hancock County Community Foundation, he said.
Brigette Jones, a member of the tourism commission, said she’s been impressed with the campground’s development in recent years.
For years before Bell took over as president of the campground in 2006, the property was overgrown and almost entirely unused, she said.
“For many years, it languished. It was there, but it was totally unusable,” she said. “Today, it’s been totally revitalized.”
Bell hopes to break ground on the lodge in June and predicts construction to wrap up by early 2017.
A groundbreaking ceremony for a new lodge at Nameless Creek Youth Camp will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 24 at the campground, 2675 S. County Road 600E.