At a recent Fort Bend County Commissioner’s Court meeting, the Court unanimously approved two agreements with the YMCA to partner on the development and programming of an outdoor education and recreation camp at Bates Allen Park in Kendleton, Texas.
The Bates Allen Park based project, named Camp Cloud, will be a public-private partnership between the YMCA and the County that will develop outdoor recreational and educational facilities funded by YMCA fundraising efforts and constructed, owned and maintained by Fort Bend County on the park property. “I very much look forward to working with the YMCA in making this a very successful project”, stated Fort Bend County Precinct 1 Commissioner, Richard Morrison.
The agreements approved recently were broken down into two separate agreements that included a Donation Agreement and a License Use Agreement. In the donation agreement, the County agreed to accept funds raised by the YMCA for the purpose of designing and constructing phased camp facilities as agreed upon in advance by the YMCA and County. Once all funds are raised by the YMCA for a particular phase, the County will accept the funds from the YMCA to start the construction of the facilities that will be owned and maintained by the County.
In the License Use Agreement, the YMCA is granted a 30 year renewable license to use the designated area of Bates Allen Park known as Camp Cloud to schedule and provide recreational and nature based programming. When not in use by the YMCA, the designated area will also be available for scheduled activities by the County or third parties. “The YMCA is so excited to have the opportunity to provide outdoor education and recreation to area residents at such a beautiful and natural location as Bates Allen Park”, stated Charlie Myer, YMCA Regional Advancement Officer.
Over the course of the next 12 months, YMCA volunteers led by Camp Cloud Project Committee Co-Chairs Marshall Whichard and Mike Flory, will be raising capital funds to start the first phase construction of the Camp Cloud Project, expected to start sometime in 2014. Plans are still being formalized, but the goal of the first phase is expected to construct a multipurpose facility at the site to act as the main gathering area for the many planned programs and activities at the camp. This main facility will include, but not be limited to, open multipurpose program space, parking, restrooms, and office and storage space. Future phases of the project will include an outdoor amphitheater, archery range, raised nature trails, playground, splash pad, pavilions and docks. According to Marshall Whichard, Camp Cloud Co-Chair, “Our fundraising efforts will be broken into three focus areas that will include Foundation Support, Corporate Giving and Individual Support.” A formal campaign kick-off will be announced later this year.
Although the formal camp facilities had not been constructed at Bates Allen Park, programming started during the 2012 year. With approval from the Fort Bend County Parks and Recreation, the YMCA ran summer day trips to Bates Allen Park. The joint program between the Fort Bend and TW Davis YMCAs was started in June of last year to provide area youth with the opportunity to enjoy and learn about nature and participate in outdoor activities that they may have never experienced.
During the course of the ten week summer program, upwards of 500 YMCA Outreach Program youth from urban and rural at-risk areas participated in the free week long day experiences at the park. Led by YMCA Counselors and Texas AgriLife Extension Service Personnel, the youth of the YMCA program enjoyed many outdoor activities, including: archery, canoeing, fishing, hiking, and environmental education. “The summer program last year really showed the positive impact that nature can make on our youth”, stated Mike Flory, Camp Cloud Co-Chair. The project was fully funded by support from the YMCA of Greater Houston’s Camping Services Board and the Fluor Foundation.
To find out more about the YMCA or how you can volunteer or donate to the organization, go to www.ymcahouston.org