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Online auction helps camp with $100,000 COVID deficit

A camp in a box kit was sent to kids over the summer to make up for a lost summer tradition. (Courtesy of Crooked Creek Christian Camp)
A camp in a box kit was sent to kids over the summer to make up for a lost summer tradition. (Courtesy of Crooked Creek Christian Camp)
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Each summer, the Crooked Creek Christian Camp greets hundreds of kids for summer camps, retreats and events.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started impacting the United States in March, the camp had to cancel most of the summer events and stop hosting big guest groups.

Executive Director Heather Bender said it was disappointing to cancel the summer camps.

The camp got creative through, and hosted a few events unique to this year. A camp in a box kit was created and sent to more than 140 kids, some as far as Texas and Pennsylvania, Bender said. The kit included key camp items such as a T-shirt, activities and goodies.

A socially distanced camp getaway was also created. It was a two-night, three-day weekend for households. Each family had its own cabin and tables

“It was a great weekend of playing, games, crafts and foods in a safe way,” Bender said.

Small guest groups are still attending the camp, and Bender said they are grateful to those individuals.

Despite the few events and groups the camp was able to host, it still lost around $100,000 in funding and expects to lose more in the coming months. Most of the funding comes from summer camps and guest groups, Bender said.

In an effort to make up some of the lost funds, the camp is hosting an online auction fundraiser.

“It won’t make up for the whole amount, but we are hoping it will get us through these quieter months,” she said.

There are more than 250 items up for auction.

The camp is supported by 17 area Mennonite churches. Bender reached out to them to donate items to the auction. She also reached out to local businesses.

Bender said it spread from there.

“We were overwhelmed in the best way with the number of donations we received,” she said.

The auction starts today at 11 a.m. and runs until Sunday at 6 p.m. on MennoniteAuctions.org. Those interested must make an account to bid on items.

For those who win, there will be two different pickup locations. First is the camp office from Dec.7-11, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The second option is at First Mennonite Church in Iowa City on Dec. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Bender hopes next summer will be as close to normal as possible.

“We don’t want to have another summer of no summer camp,”she said.