By JOHN FORTMEYER
MOUNT HOOD — Thanks to a donation of 160 acres of land here, the YMCA of Columbia-Willamette will develop within the next three years a Christian camp in the wilderness for at-risk youth.
The gift to the regional “Y” agency was announced Nov. 13 at its annual Christian Principles in Life event at Embassy Suites Washington Square in Tigard.
Bob Hall, president and CEO of the YMCA, said the donation from Portland-area businessman Duncan Campbell was made indirectly to the Y through another local non-profit agency.
He said no official appraisal has been done on the property, located on the mountain’s south side near Trillium Lake and Government Camp. But Hall has heard informal estimates that it is worth from one million dollars to one and one-half million.
Campbell has owned the property for about 20 years, said Hall.
A Portland native, Campbell graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1973. He became a successful entrepreneur — founder of a timberland investment firm.
But Campbell, a former child care worker at two of Oregon’s detention facilities for youth, was inspired by his own troubled childhood to create new programs to help Oregon’s poor and disadvantaged children and teenagers. One such program is Friends of the Children, which pairs seriously at-risk children with mentors. It now has chapters in nine cities nationally.
“He is a philanthropist in the best sense of the word,” said Hall. “he has a long history in doing good work in the Portland metro area as well as across the country. He is a very generous, kindhearted man who loves kids and wants to see kids prosper, especially kids at risk.”
Hall said the YMCA paid the non-profit agency that assisted in the transaction $150,000 to reimburse it for a 4,000 square-foot steel building — currently empty — that it built on the property and which might eventually be a dining hall. He said the land is otherwise undeveloped and curremtly has no electricity or running water.
“It’s one of the largest privately owned parcels in the Mount Hood National Forest — a rare piece of property,” said Hall.
Under terms of the agreement with Campbell, the Y has until 2019 to get the yet-unnamed camp going, or the property will revert to him. Hall said the camp might be ready by 2018.
He said it will be a “wilderness-type camp experience” designed for a minimum of 60 youth each week for at least four weeks a year. Initially, the youth will be housed in yurts — portable round tent-like structures —on platforms.
Hall said the Y plans to launch a $1.5 million capital campaign to fund initial development of the camp.
This will be the regional Y agency’s second camp. Camp Collins, founded in 1926, is a well-developed camp of 130-acres near Gresham.