BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – It’s been a staple of education for schools across West Michigan for decades.
The Battle Creek Outdoor Educational Center is along M-37 in Dowling. The Battle Creek School Board met on Monday to discuss how to keep the Clear Lake Camp going in a time of budget cuts.
When it comes to the district’s money, board members said keeping the money in the classroom is the priority. For the past six months, a study at the request of the school board has been ongoing at Clear Lake Camp at the Outdoor Education Center. The task was to determine if the district should continue to fund the camp at a cost of $359,000 a year.
Battle Creek Public Schools Superintendent Linda Hicks said the camp has the public’s support, as made evident by an anonymous donation of $200,000.
“Everyone has been encouraging us and that is why it is wonderful that we have this anonymous donation,” said Hicks, “so we can spend some more time to take a deeper dive before we make some final conclusions about what we are going to do.”
The park’s director, Amy Cherry, said she was blown away by just how much the camp means to the community. But even with a $200,000 donation, the district is still $159,000 short.
The plan going forward is to focus on community donations to keep the park off the chopping block this year.
According to the commissioned study the camp has mass appeal. “There are some schools that drive two hour charters to come here,” said Cherry.
The camp also has competition. The study showed that there are parks in the area with nicer facilities for meetings and banquets.
The final recommendations from the study included focusing solely on education, making it an extension of the classroom and therefore setting itself apart from other camps in the area.
Information on the camp can be found at the Outdoor Education Center’s website.