Spotlight Stories

Renovation of Van Dyke Lodge (Formerly Bett's Lodge)

Camp Fire of Central New York is excited to announce the renovation of one of our oldest buildings.Old Betts Lodge has been overlooking the north side of Lake Temalo for over ninety years. First constructed in the 1920s, Betts Lodge served in many capacities, including staff summer housing, meeting center, program location, and CIT base camp. Following a fire in 1985, it was rebuilt in 1986. Unfortunately, Camp Talooli has been unable to use this historic resource in recent years due to some damage to its roof and structure, which has led to the hard choice as to whether to tear down the building due to safety concerns. Thanks to the incredible generosity, heart, and skill of one of our camp families, old Betts Lodge has been saved, and has been renovated to house a brand-new program this summer. Debbie and Dave Van Dyke, whose grandson attends camp, have been donating their time and expertise throughout the 2015-2016 off-season to give new life to the building we are proud to now call Van Dyke Lodge.

Their Story

After serving in the Army, both Debbie and Dave began working for General Electric in Liverpool, which later become part of Lockheed Martin. It was while they were both working on the GE medical team that Dave describes meeting his “best friend and future wife, Debbie.” They have continued to work together in their retirement, establishing Dave’s Home Projects in 2007. They provide a wide range of contracting services, and it was through this business that they first became acquainted with Camp Talooli. Not long after, their grandson, Caiden, began attending our winter and summer sessions as a camper. Debbie and Dave were moved by Caiden’s experience attending Camp Talooli, both because of the joy that it seemed to bring him and the new skills that he was developing. Specifically, they noted his improved swimming skills, interest in archery, and independence.

While working at Camp Talooli as our lawnmowers, Debbie and Dave had often noticed Betts Lodge as an interesting old building atop a hill overlooking our lake and wondered why it was not being used. So, when we approached them in June of 2015 about potentially tearing the building down, they instead proposed a plan for resurrecting it. In the short span of a few months, they had collaborated with our staff to draw up plans for shoring up the old damage, removing the central fire pit, renovating the interior, and installing a new porch with a commanding view of the lake.

When asked what prompted them to give so much of their time and energy to a project like this, both Debbie and Dave immediately identified that it was for the love of their grandson and the benefit of other children like him. Dave has long enjoyed building things and helping friends, neighbors, local farmers, etc. to build everything from houses to barns. He further said that, “When it comes to Camp Talooli, knowing long after Debbie and I are gone it will be enjoyed by kids, brings such joy to us. It is hard to explain how we feel.  Kids have their whole life in front of them and they have so much hope and if there is any way we can help promote that fire inside them, well, to me this is such a great feeling of joy.”  


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