Camping

Senior recreation group struggles to save camp ground

The future is uncertain for the senior camp ground near Donnelly. The camp ground is open to everyone, but for $10 a year, senior campers can get special low rates on camp sites.
The future is uncertain for the senior camp ground near Donnelly. The camp ground is open to everyone, but for $10 a year, senior campers can get special low rates on camp sites. Senior Citizens Recreation Association

The Southwest Idaho Senior Citizens Recreation Association, a nonprofit group formed in 1978, has been enjoying a 30-year lease on Willow Creek Camp Ground, a 66-acre tract of land near Donnelly owned by the Bureau of Reclamation.

The group is in the process of renegotiating its lease and recently heard from the landowner that it will be required to upgrade the camp’s drainage system and connect it to the local sewer district. Costs could go as high as $500,000, said Gerold Cecil, president of the association. He and the other senior campers, most of whom live in the Treasure Valley, are asking for the public’s help.

“We’re new to fundraising. We’re hoping for donations or advice from anyone about what we might do,” said Cecil.

The group is hoping to apply for grants, including one from the Idaho State Department of Parks and Recreation, to help with the sewer costs, said Cecil.

Volunteers built the campground, which includes 195 campsites open to everyone, but with reduced rates for seniors, three decades ago. It includes ADA-compliant restrooms and hot showers, as well as a recreation hall for bingo, meetings, music, dancing and other activities.

The deadline to improve the sewer: “ASAP,” said Cecil.

The Southwest Idaho Senior Citizens Recreation Association has been active in the Donnelly area, including sponsoring a float in the Huckleberry Festival parade and cleaning sidewalks and vacant lots for the event. Learn more about the organization online at siscraidaho.com. If you’d like to donate or offer fundraising advice, call Gerold Cecil at 208-841-2915.

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