Growth and Expansion
The camps summer program continued to grow. The number of children served grew from about 60 in the mid 70’s to well over 180 each week by 1989. We ate in shifts and prayed that it never rained during the day. It was also very clear that we could potentially be opened year round. A great decision had to be made. Do we continue to run just in the warm weather months of the year or do we take a huge step of faith and strive to open year round. Several meetings of the camp trustees, several church meetings and a lot of planning took place. A final decision was made. We were going to be open year round. The trustees developed a long-term plan with steps towards year round operation that would be done over a planned ten year period. The first step would be to replace the three boys dorms with a complete facility that would house 80 children, have complete washroom and shower facilities and be heated for use in the winter.
Rev.Rumball had been a long time member of the Hustler’s Young Men’s Bible Class. The Hustlers had been supporting the camp for a long time. They supported children every year and maintained our phone system. When they heard of our plans to expand they were first to make a major financial contribution. This was the seed money that got our whole plan started .In 1989 we started to tear down our boy’s dorm to get ready to build the following spring. We constructed a 4000-sqare foot dormitory made out of Northern Ontario 10 inch logs. The building was constructed by the camp board, volunteer’s staff and many friends who were willing to give up there weekends for this project. It turned out to be a lovely building that got us on our way.
A great vision for the camp had been developed. Many people took notice of the improvements at the camp. A pair of gentlemen took a keen interest in the work and have not taken a look back since. Enter, Don Durno and Norm Bosworth. Don and Norm were a terrific team that had raised millions of dollars over their lifetime for other worthy causes. They were convinced that they could rally together enough support to turn the camp into a showpiece for the deaf community and the rest of the world. Our long-term plan was shared with them and they made a pledge to help us get there. Don Durno had a distinguished professional sports career that spans from Pro Football in the CFL to hockey in the United Kingdom . Norm Bosworth, an Executive with Canada Dry and a Director of Maple Gardens was connected with a very influential community. In 1991 a brief meeting took place outlining the design needs for a main lodge. A simple, yes came from them and we were underway to realizing a dream.
Don and Norm had formed the “Rumball Fund”. They assembled a group of dedicated men who were willing to put their own financial necks on the line to see our dream come true. Plans were drawn up. Approvals were sought. A contractor was hired. The day after camp ended in 1992 we were in the ground. Months of site preparation took place before the first bit of cement was poured. Three acres of land was cleared and over 1000 loads of fill was brought in. We raised the earth on the site 32 feet. It took every day, for 32 days, one foot at time, to import, then water, then compact the earth so that it would support our new lodge. This was not going to be a regular camp like building. It was going to be 20,000 square foot wonder that contained a complete kitchen and dining hall, a multi-purpose room, a full size Gymnasium, and 6 special needs guests’ rooms.
We utilized the Lions Recreation Hall that was already there. It became our kitchen and dining room. The Rotary Hall had to come down as well as the Jane’s Place, our craft hall. We built through the winter months trying to beat the deadline of next years camp season. We encountered a snowstorm that wiped out the entire top floor. We had a labour union shut us down for a week. We had truck drivers that didn’t want to cross our bridge. Our tools, our camp program equipment that was in storage and the contractor’s trade tools were all stolen during a weekend holiday break in March of that year. During a spring storm a wall of mud knocked down the foundation of cottage #3. Even with all those obstacles, we were up running and ready by the time the kids were out of school and on their way to camp.
The estimated budget for the lodge was 1.1 Million dollars. We completed it for 1.4 Million. The Rumball Fund assumed all of the responsibility for the project. A major donation from GIFT, The Grocers Foundation , with a lot of push from Mr. Steve Stavro, put us closer to the mark. A single gift from the Honourable Judge Frank Dunlap built our gym. During the construction of the Lodge the services to the camp were improved. All electrical services and water systems were improved in order that we may serve over two hundred people at any time of the year. In the fall of 1993 we officially open the “Don Durno Lodge”. Appropriately named for one of the men who did all the behind the scenes work.
Since 1992 the Rumball Fund has raised and invested close to 3 million dollars in the camp. They have been instrumental in acquiring funding from the Harold Ballard Foundation and from the Bank of Montreal’s “Our People Fund”. A key event for fundraising as well as awareness has always been the annual ‘BIG D’s” Golf Tournament. It is a fun filled day of golf. It brings to the attention the needs of the camp to a variety of people who are genuinely interested in the welfare of the children.