Sid and Karen DeBoer Fund YMCA Camp at Lake of the Woods
A major gift from Ashland residents Sid and Karen DeBoer will help people of all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs experience the outdoors and learn together. The couple’s gift is remaking a former Girl Scouts camp at Lake of the Woods into a state-of-the-art, year-round facility. Their donation of the property and lead gift of $10 million through the Sid and Karen DeBoer Foundation, a supporting organization of OCF, enabled the construction of the new YMCA Camp DeBoer.
“We have enjoyed the lake all of our lives. We didn’t want the camp to close or be turned into a commercial enterprise. We want it to serve people of all ages and offer ways to access the lake all seasons,” said Sid DeBoer. “It stands for something we believe in. The camp will give people the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and understand nature and the environment.”
Ensuring Outdoor Experiences for Generations to Come
For more than 70 years, thousands of Girl Scouts spent summers at the camp, but it had fallen into disrepair. The Girl Scouts sold the property to the DeBoer Foundation in 2012, who turned it over to the Ashland Family YMCA.
The Y plans to operate the camp year-round. Along with summer camp activities for kids, the facility will accommodate state-supported Outdoor School programs in the fall and spring. All kinds of users will have access to the camp for weekend activities, boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, cross-country skiing, trainings, retreats and private events.
“This camp facility will have a positive impact on people of all ages for years to come. The Y-Camp experience engages youth in activities that help connect them with nature and the importance of stewardship, teach new skills, and develop character and self-confidence. Outdoor experiences help children increase their understanding of their natural and human communities leading to a sense of place,” said Lisa Molnar, project manager for the YMCA Camp DeBoer and former CEO of the Ashland Family YMCA. “Through a connection to place, youth develop environmental awareness and become more informed and responsible citizens. This directly aligns with our mission to build stronger children, families, and communities.”
Construction of the new camp is well underway and it’s scheduled to open in 2021. The 30-acre camp will accommodate about 150 people at a time with structures built to modern standards, putting an end to rustic accommodations, outhouses and infestations that had plagued the original facility. The new camp will include a main lodge, 14 cabins, bath houses, a pavilion, program buildings and a new dock.
Most of the total project cost of $13.5 million was funded by the DeBoers Foundation, with additional support from other foundations and individuals. The Y is running a fundraising campaign to furnish the facility, with the DeBoer Foundation matching new gifts up to an additional $750,000.
Celebrating Lifelong Generosity
On November 12, 2019, Sid and Karen DeBoer received the Vollum Award for Lifetime Philanthropic Achievement at the Oregon & Southwest Washington Philanthropy Awards luncheon, recognizing their long-term commitment to philanthropy and service to their community. Both serve on several boards including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Asante Health System Foundation, the Southern Oregon University Foundation and the Ashland YMCA. Sid DeBoer is Chairman of the Board of a Lithia Motors, Inc., a company listed on the New York Stock exchange.