Massive Fundraising Achievement For New Boy Scout Camp Pool

photo of Boy Scout Camp poolWaterfront frequently covers the humanitarian efforts of the pool and spa community, but few have the scope of this one. Between May of 2005 and July of 2011, a host of donors and contributors worked together to build a $700,000 pool complex for Camp Lakota in Woodstock Ill.

The project began when O'Neil, operations manager at Downes Swimming Pool Company, recognizing a need for an aquatic facility at the popular Boy Scout Camp outside Chicago, got together with the Midwest chapter of the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) and started putting together a plan.

Step one was finding an architect. This alone would normally cost between $30,000 and $40,000. He started dialing, but was turned down almost instantly by everybody when they found out their time and effort was to be donated.

O'Neil was not discouraged, because even though he didn't have a blueprint, he'd begun to gather labor commitments and materials for the upcoming project. Whenever it began, he would be ready. However, by the fall of 2006, after nearly a year and a half of fruitless effort, O'Neil told a friend, Wayne Dunbar, that he was just about ready to walk away from the project.

"No, you're not," Dunbar replied. It was a simple statement, not a suggestion. O'Neil decided to give it a couple more days, in which time a sudden donation of $20,000 came through and he was finally able to hire an architect, Complete Concept Group.

On March 18, 2008, they received the permit for the final plans. The 25-by-50-foot concrete pool shell was laid down, and then the economy crashed. All the donors disappeared as the economy plummeted, including the ones who were going to erect the bathhouse, bringing the whole project to a halt.

O'Neil's only option was to start panhandling customers and other pool industry companies that he worked with. There were very few huge donations anymore, but little chunks of change here and there slowly began to trickle in.

By August of 2010, the frame of the bathhouse was up thanks to George Stathopoulos and his crew, along with a generous donation of discounted lumber from Menards. The pool was then plastered and they celebrated with an unofficial pool party!

Word of the party got around and motivated people to put forward the last of the necessary donations. In July of 2011 the completed pool passed inspection.

Despite the years of effort, in the end, the project itself turned into an object lesson for O'Neil's scouting sons and Boy Scouts across the country. "The thing you learn in the Scouts is you have to put in an effort to excel," O'Neil says.

Click here for a complete list of donors.

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