How does the purchase of Camp Timber Trails promote and sustain the DNE community?
DNE members have wanted a “Homeplace” for decades, after our failed attempt to buy Omni Camp. Camp Timber Trails became available at time when DNE was disillusioned with renting from unfriendly camp owners.
A purchase like this is too hard for the DNE volunteer Board to add to their tasks. And buying the camp required a huge amount of money — $1.3 million. About 45 people quickly formed Friends of Dance New England, an LLC, to buy the camp with investments and loans, without having to use a bank — amazing! Did the buyers want to own a whole camp? Not really; it’s overwhelming. But the DNE member-investors really wanted to serve the community by providing an alternative to Camp Robin Hood.
The investors were also inspired by a vision of a place for gatherings of like-minded organizations to celebrate creative expression, such as Unifier. This is a unique location in the Berkshires to connect different communities as the business grows.
Is Camp Timber Trails the DNE Homeplace? DNE members are deeply involved in making this venture successful. The DNE Board has stated that they consider Camp Timber Trails their Homeplace, but haven’t defined exactly what that means. DNE has loaned money but does not as yet own a share.
DNE members are volunteering for work weekends, are helping on committees for the Friends of Dance New England, and have joined the separate Board for Camp Timber Trails. The participation of so many DNE members has brought about a deep sense of the delight of community working together. The camp would not succeed without the efforts of so many.
In the meanwhile the Friends of Dance New England is figuring out how this camp will work for a season of renters, survive financially, and pay back the loans — as well as formulating a long-term vision. We made it through two years, and over time we hope that DNE itself will own a large share in this camp.