Miniwanca has seen many significant improvements to its facilities in recent years, including extensive renovation of the West Eating Lodge and more than 50 cabins at Girls Camp and Boys Camp.
While restoration and renovation have retained some structures, Senior Director of Infrastructure Andy Mulcahy said the Miniwanca’s shifting sand dunes have made some older buildings unsafe to use. “The Fellowship Building in particular has been precariously situated on a steep hillside overlooking Stony Creek,” he said.
Built in 1951, the Fellowship Building served as a central meeting spot for leaders throughout the years. Its fireplace held special significance, as it was created with stones from each of the 50 states.
Mulcahy and the Miniwanca Operations Team consulted with several people and organizations to find options to salvage the structure, including the AYF board of directors property and maintenance committee, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, and multiple contractors.
“After assessing the information, we made the difficult decision to take down the Fellowship Building,” Mulcahy said. “We know this building held great importance to so many in our community, and we exhausted all our options before realizing this was the only way forward.”
The Facilities Team saw an opportunity to preserve the legacy of the Fellowship Building by carefully removing those important fireplace stones prior to its decommission. They have securely stored them for future use elsewhere on the campus.
“We are pleased we will be able to honor the camp’s history by incorporating those stones into an upcoming project as we continue the work of building Miniwanca’s future,” Mulcahy said. “For now, the site where the Fellowship Building stood vacant for several seasons will provide a nice green space for youth to play and connect.”