BARABOO -- On any given summer Saturday night in the Wisconsin Dells, one is bound to see a large group of young Catholic adults. They are likely cleaned up and celebrating the end of another week at Camp Gray, while also anticipating the next group of campers coming on Sunday.
On Saturday, April 17, the Camp Gray staff will not be getting ready for a new group of campers the next morning. They will, however, be changed out of their normal camp attire and ready for a celebration of a different sort at the Camp Gray benefit dinner.
Benefit dinner April 17
The benefit dinner will take place on the evening of April 17 at the Bishop O’Connor Center in Madison. It will include fellowship and testimonies from Camp Gray campers and staff members.
Kevin Andraska, former camper and brother of camp co-directors Jeff and Rebecca Hoeben, will cater dinner. Andraska is the owner and executive chef of South Shore Restaurant.
During the cocktail hour before dinner, there will be a silent auction and raffle, along with opportunities for attendees to participate in some traditional camp activities.
The theme of this year’s dinner, “Planting Seeds on Holy Ground,” is indicative of what the mission and work at Camp Gray strives to accomplish throughout the year. That is, providing opportunities for the youth of the diocese to flourish and grow in their faith within a joyful Catholic environment.
This work is achieved both through the nine weeks of summer camp and the year-round retreat programs.
How proceeds will be used
Proceeds of the benefit dinner will support both camper scholarships throughout the summer camp season and renovations to existing, and heavily used, buildings on camp.
As Assistant Director Chris Aderhold describes, “All the proceeds from the Canteen Store at camp go into the Camper Scholarship fund — appropriately named the ‘Campership’ fund. That goes to the tune of $25,000 every year, in addition to the several thousand dollars raised during the annual fund drive.
“We give a lot of money, but as you know, times are tough economically and we have seen a lot more folks who have requested financial aid or parents that aren’t going to be able to send their kids this summer. Sincerely, there is nothing tougher for us than to hear that there are campers who are not able to come back because of finances.”
Of many evaluations which flood the camp mailbox, this past summer found some parents reflecting gratefully on the aid given to their family: “We would absolutely not have been able to send our daughter this year (to her great disappointment) without the financial aid. Our situation has declined even more, and this is such a perfect release of stress for her. She can go and be herself and forget all of the worries she carries with her back here at home.”
Not only does the benefit dinner provide money to raise money for the needs of Camp Gray, but this also provides past and present staff members an opportunity to meet and personally thank the benefactors who make Camp Gray what it is.
Former year round volunteer and current summer staffer, Meghan O’Connell, describes how excited she is to volunteer at the benefit dinner, because “Camp Gray needs to bring in more money, and it will be awesome to have the support of these people who care about camp.
“I am excited to volunteer and meet these people who together can change the face of camp, because it does need a face-lift. Future campers and retreat goers will then be able to enjoy camp more than they already do.”
Whether a family with a long history at camp or one that would have to pull out a map to locate Shady Lane Rd., all are welcome to attend the benefit dinner. Attendees will be able to plant seeds in the lives of the youth of the diocese and help grow the future of the Church.
Tickets for the Camp Gray benefit dinner are $75 for a seat or $400 for a table of six. Businesses who sponsor a table will be recognized by name on their table.
For more information, visit www.campgray.com/BenefitDinner or call 608-356-8200.