ST. CLOUD — Legionville Education Center is in a strong position again after a string of lean years.
The Department Executive Committee on Oct. 27 received a report from Carl Moon of Zimmerman Post 560, as he was elected president of the Legionville Board of Directors at its Sept. 22 meeting.
He said the past summer had 389 campers, who paid $400 each. Rates for participating this coming summer will be raised to $500, which he said remains lower than surrounding summer camps.
“This is still lower than a lot of the camps around us,” Moon said. “We had campers go to others nearby, and they said they had a better time at our camp.”
He said Camp Director Adam Felton has a goal of 400 to 500 campers in 2023 and is hoping to get the figure up to 800 in coming years.
Legionville is known for its crossing-guard safety, which is a partnership the Department of Minnesota has had with the Minnesota State Patrol since 1936. Moon said the camp staff have expanded offerings to have many types of safety: first aid, CPR, canoeing, swimming, camping, among others, and he said the State Patrol is working to begin gun safety, too.
To bolster camper numbers, he urged Legion members to speak to more than just the schools. They can go to school bus drivers, firefighters and police officers, and explain the importance of kids learning safety.
Legionville is its own nonprofit corporation. Its finances are separate from the Department of Minnesota.
Legionville revenue exceeded expenses by $268,793 this past year, Moon said, with an operating balance of $199,186.
He listed reasons Legionville is stronger now than in past years.
First off, Legionville received $148,630 from the state government for a Reinvest In Minnesota (RIM) grant, for land it has in conservation status.
Second, Legionville reworked a cell-tower lease agreement, which yielded a one-time $75,000 payment. Third, Legionville received a PPE loan for $50,000. Fourth, districts donated $87,149.
Moon said $50,000 of the overage will be invested in a CD, and after the markets improve, he hopes more investments can be added.
Additional income is expected in the coming year. At the Sept. 22 meeting, the board voted to sell two parcels. He said they are swampland that has been leased out for $1,000 a year in recent years. The board had an appraisal done and found they are worth about $225,000 to $250,000.
“We are going to put that up for a bid because we can’t get to it, we can’t use it.”
Moon spoke about a paver project and donor wall to show who has donated to Legionville. He mentioned the Camporee, which takes place Sept. 6-11, 2023, will no longer be hosted by the SAL Detachment of Minnesota. Now, it will be run by volunteers from the districts.
Organizer Shawn Davis will assist in 2023 to help with the transition.
Moon also said the camp is looking to replace 168 mattresses.
The string of lean years was caused mainly by closed summer sessions. In 2018, a large floating bog force the camp to cancel. In 2020, COVID happened. In 2021, COVID restrictions were lifted at a time that left a narrow registration window.