An announcement Wednesday at a popular children's camp in Putnam County has left many people disappointed.
Hundreds of kids, counselors and volunteers are learning the Salvation Army's Camp Happy Valley will not open this year.
"When the decision was finally made that no we cannot do it, then we had to let everyone know that camp will not open this year," said Major Owen Gilliam, Area Commander for the Salvation Army
He said it was a decision that wasn't made lightly. The camp has provided fun to generations of kids, many who would not have been able to afford to attend a summer camp otherwise.
Gilliam said weather, combined with little to no funding for maintenance has lead to damage to several buildings. The camp's swimming pool cannot open because of extensive damage to the pipes. There is also a possible gas leak in one of the buildings.
Volunteers were at the camp over the weekend doing repairs but Gilliam said with the debt they have left over from last year's camp and all of the money it would cost to buy supplies to repair everything, there is just no way to get the camp open in time.
"It is definitely closed for this year because if we worked every day between now and opening we would not have this camp ready," Gilliam said. He estimates the damages around the property would cost $80,000 to repair. He said they would need at least $200,000 just to start camp this year. Gilliam went on to explain that while people are still willing to volunteer their time and talent, financial donations to buy supplies have been on a steep decline over the past few years.
With no way to get the kind of money they need to do the necessary repairs by the start of camping season in June, Gilliam and others at the camp are approaching the summer with a heavy heart.
"There is a great tradition here," Gilliam said.
The Salvation Army is planning to work throughout the summer to maintain and repair the buildings and plumbing. They also have to try to keep up with the grass even though almost all of their equipment is old and broken.
They are hoping to take campers by bus to another similar camp in Martinsburg.
If you would like to help the camp try to get back on it's feet you can call 304-343-4548 for more information.