From the Desk of Founder VL Gaffney, Headmaster of Serenity House
Quarantine has given me lots of time to think about Camp and its potential, things that could be done with the Grounds and ways to better serve the communities that Camp is being primarily designed for. Namely, the disabled and chronically ill school-aged folks who have had to sacrifice their emotional wellbeing for their physical health in light of the growingly fatal pandemic in the United States. In the coming years, we will see a rise in young people with post-viral non-convalescent illness and disabilities from COVID trauma, as well as co-morbid minor conditions that can be life-long and untreatable. When Camp was conceptualized in 2015, we knew this would be the community we’d serve, we just didn’t know how big it would be, or how needed Camp would become. Nevertheless, we will be ready.
Through partnerships with educational advocacy groups, Texas Housing Authority, the Foster System, and local businesses with interests in providing expanding opportunities to young people, Camp Oak Hallows can and will set the tone for what learning could and should be.
In spring of 2021, the IRS is expected to finalize COH’s 501c3 status as a Tax-Exempt Educational Organization in the State of Texas, where we are already acknowledged as a 202 Non-Profit Business. At this time, the (completely refundable) Early Bird Pre-Registration for Spring 2024 Term will open at a rate of $100/week/camper.
By the end of 2021, we should have identified and formed relationships with the businesses, organizations, and individuals who will be our “headline” sponsors. The goal sum is $1 million combined sponsors and registrations. If this goal is not met, the timeline will be delayed until met.
2022 will open with outreach to individuals and organizations for second-tier sponsors and donors looking to leave their mark on Camp in a more personal way, with dedications and namesakes on buildings and features of the Grounds. Early Bird Pre-Registration will increase to $150/week/camper. It will be the duty of the sponsor team and Board to identify a plot of land suitable for Camp.
The goal sum is $2 million combined sponsors and registrations, including 2021. If this goal is not met, the timeline will be delated until met.
2023 will open the third round of Early Bird Pre-Registration at a rate of $200/week/camper, assuming that land has been identified and can be purchased with amassed funds thus far. This land should not be smaller than 500 acres, or more than $500,000, in as rectangular a shape as possible. Modeled Grounds size is 600 acres (24 x 25) with a central Compass Lake of approximately 80 acres and 5 acres of beach. The goal sum is $5 million with a minimum goal of $4 million combined sponsors and registrations, including previous years. If the minimum is not met, the timeline may have to be delayed until met to afford construction costs.
The Wall and Moat (baseline analog security infrastructure)
>>Lake (not exceeding a depth of 8′); River, Grotto, and Ponds (not exceeding a depth of 5′)
Tech Infrastructure and Zoning
>>Mark out zones for planned future builds
>>Lay trails, pave roads, import sand, “secret tunnels”
>>Lay plumbing, install fire suppression measures, water reclamation systems
>>Lay wiring for power, internet, intercoms, digital security
Headmasters’ Mansion and Haven II (main offices, first multi-purpose spaces and dorms)
>>Access Gate, flood control system
>>Drawbridges, security checkpoints shelters
The Hearth (dining hall) and Great Lawn
The Hive (library)
First Big Volunteer Weekend (inaugural) + beginning of small donations for path Memorial Bricks
>>The Cottages and The Yard housing quarters units
>>Tents and Screened Cabins housing quarters units
>>The Boat House mixed-use lakeside building
>>Athletic Park outdoor courts and fields
Open applications for contribution volunteer projects from youth groups (Scouts, 4H, NHS, et cetera)
2024 will begin with approvals for projects scheduled for before March 17. Camper registration will open at a rate of $250/week/camper with discounts for added siblings or referring friends.
*Sponsor-dependent, less-essential projects
Construction will continue:
>>Weight Room and Equipment Gym
>>Indoor Aquatics with attached housing quarters*
>>The Suburbs housing quarters unit
>>Running Track, Soccer and Football Fields with bleachers and indoor areas
>>Acro Gym with attached housing quarters*
The Rec Hall with attached housing quarters
The Lighthouse mixed-use building
The Treehouses housing quarters unit
Fine Arts Hall and outdoor stone Amphitheater overlooking lake*
The Firehouse emergency intake and expanded medical care space with secure entry
Old West Town and Lincolnville mixed-use housing quarters units
Opening Day March 18
Construction halt April 5
Solar Eclipse (Saturday April 6 – Monday April 8) Big Volunteer Weekend
>>Furnishing, painting, minimal construction tasks
Construction resumes April 9
Construction halt May 3, resume May 8
Spring Term ends, first Summer Bash June 20
Open “weekender” reservations for non-Camper short-term stays
Construction halt June 19
Construction resume July 8
Construction halt September 20
Summer Term ends, first Fall Fest September 21-22
Close “weekender” reservations for non-Camper short-term stays
Construction resume September 23
Construction halt November 15
Construction resume December 2, halt December 20
Fall Term ends, first Winter Ball December 21
“Holidays at the Hallows” fundraiser
The goal sum for the year is $8 million combined sponsors and registrants, including previous years, and events ticket sales.
2025 will begin during the Winter Term with continuing construction and contribution projects. Sponsoring “Academy” programs will open for organizations looking to fund weekend or week-long sessions of specialized activities (cooking, athletics, arts…)
Construction resume January 6
>>Equestrian, Canine, Feline, and Small Livestock Barns
>>The Barn House housing quarters
>>Orchards, Gardens, and Patches
The Castle and Fairy Hollow mixed-use housing quarters units
The Hospital further expanded medical care space*
>>Dedicated Psychology and Social Work spaces
The Pinnacle multi-faith dedicated religious space
Secret City mixed use housing quarters units*
The Condos mixed use housing quarters units
The Globe Theater*
Construction halt March 7
Open “weekender” non-Camper short-term reservations for Spring Break
Winter Term ends, second annual Spring Fling March 21
Close “weekender” non-Camper short-term reservations March 30
Construction resume March 31
More calendar to come.
The year’s goal sum is $10 million combined and including previous years. Some aspects of the plan may still be living in our heads, but intentions are laid out for the future. It should be noted that construction items are prioritized by desired start date, and their completions may be after the apparent “window.” Upon completion of The Pinnacle, COH can begin welcoming guest speakers to provide religious services on the Grounds.
In 2026, Camp Oak Hallows would like to start (and finish!) installing solar and wind power utilities on the grounds, to go effectively “off-grid” and not rely on outside-sourced electricity or gas heat. By this time, a steady revenue stream of registrants to various programs should mostly support the cost of upkeep and the need for sponsorships will decrease as the monthly costs decrease, thanks to more sustainability efforts on the grounds. This year’s goal sum is $12 million combined including previous years. Specialized “Academy” programs should begin, as well as a more diversified offering of summer youth program session weeks (“themed” camps.)
>>Alacrity House housing quarters
>>Sagacity House housing quarters
>>Serenity House housing quarters
>>Vitality House housing quarters
>>Panhellenic Park mixed use housing quarters unit
In 2027, agricultural product output should reach sufficiency to begin selling Camp-made products for a small revenue stream, as well as reduce demand for “importing” some products that can be made on the Grounds. This year, the goal sum is $15 million with a sponsorship push for Learning Spaces.
>>Dedicated science and math labs
>>Dedicated computer lab
>>Dedicated research library
With these additions, The Hive will be able to re-allocate space that was previously serving these needs and move toward dedicated space for social gatherings, and housing “exhibits” of student or donated works for fundraising events. Also, Staff will be able to begin certifications to proctor exams such as state standardized testing, college CBEs, and even national testing programs (SAT, ACT, CLEP…)
2028 will see a shift in how Camp operates with the (hopeful) beginning of a Homelessness Prevention Program in partnership with Housing Authority and Foster System groups, as well as the US Armed Forces to take in school-aged children who would have unreliable or less-than-optimal access to education and secure living. The goal sum will be $20 million with a push for scholarship sponsors to support the cost of the HPP. Young adults with dependents may begin Work-Stay arrangements to be employed on the Grounds in exchange for housing, and student coverage for their dependent.
By this time, hopefully all planned construction projects will have been completed and are no longer a budget burden. Small improvements projects, such as art installations, more benches, or beautification efforts, will continue.
In 2029, the Headmasters will seek accreditation as an educational institution to begin full-time “school” programs. This process is expected to take time. Meanwhile, homeschool services and Academies will continue. The goal for the year is to not incur a debt.
In 2030, COH hopes to be at full operation with accreditation, regularly occurring Academies, returning students, and well-kept Grounds. The Winter Ball will celebrate a 10-year haul culminating in a place unlike any other, where magic just might be real. Sponsors will be honored and celebrated.
Thank you for exploring this timeline with me, I hope we can work together soon to meet these goals and make happen what many have thought impossible.