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Camp for disabled closing after 60 years

Updated: February 24, 2014 10:23PM



MUNCIE — A central Indiana camp that’s provided summer activities for disabled children and adults for 60 years is being shut down.

Leaders of the organization that oversees Camp Isanogel near Muncie are blaming the decision on the cost of running it when the group’s funding has been reduced.

The camp is expensive to run and most of those attending are unable to pay much, Hillcroft Services CEO Debbie Bennett told The Star Press.

Hillcroft Services faced a difficult decision to close the camp. It’s been losing money for years and has growing maintenance costs, she said.

“It was something that broke a lot of people’s hearts here,” she said. “There was something that went on there that was magical.”

The camp had capacity for 250 people, but drew about 170 last summer. It dates back to 1953, having been opened on 150 acres of farmland donated by Ellen Isanogel, a teacher. It offered day camps at first, then started residential camp programs in the 1960s.

Campers — children and adults — got to do traditional summer camp activities and variations on them, including crafts, wheelchair dancing and basketball, picnics, gatherings around the campfire, sing-alongs, swimming in the specially outfitted pool, even a night spent sleeping in tents or a large teepee.

Bennett said Hillcroft leaders decided to spend money on direct programming for its clients rather than continuing to pay the maintenance and facility costs at Camp Isanogel.

Reducing the number of weeks when camps were offered wasn’t feasible because staffers hired — particularly college students working as counselors — wanted to work the whole summer, not just a few weeks, she said.

AP



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