Originally founded by Charles J. Miller, the camp was created with the goal of giving a residential summer camp experience to children with disabilities.
In addition to his morning show host and Program Director responsibilities for 92.7, Mike Clayton has decided to utilize his skill set to help Wonderland Camp in Rocky Mount as Director of Fund Development.
Wonderland Camp was founded in 1969 and will be hosting celebrations throughout the year to honor its 50th anniversary. Originally founded by Charles J. Miller, the camp was created with the goal of giving a residential summer camp experience to children with disabilities. Camp history information states that Miller wanted “A camp designed to match their special medical needs and provide them with the maximum safety with freedom to enjoy nature.”
Clayton says one of his top priorities in the new position is to simply make more people aware of the camp all together. Currently, he says the camp is getting around 100 members weekly during its main 11 week sessions in the summer. Membership is aimed at those with disabilities, though there is no age limit to who can attend. During the months of May-August, he says the camp employs around 100 people as well with paying jobs.
In 2019, the camp will showcase a number of themes from week to week in order to entice members to join during a week that might peak their interest most. The summer camping season will start with a Disney theme and continue for 11 weeks with other themes such as Hollywood, Harry Potter, Safari and more. This will all be capped off with a 50th anniversary party on Sept. 14.
“We have campers come back all the time and tell us that it was one of the best week’s of their lives,” Clayton said.
A service that the camp holds, which Clayton says is typically not known by the average community member, is year-round use. Whether it be birthdays, office events or just general gathering needs, he says Wonderland is open for use.
To better relay these points of interest with the camp, Clayton says they will be rehauling their social media presence. This includes more actively sharing updates on Facebook, Twitter and so on, while also revamping their website. With public outreach being a large part of what Clayton will be taking over, he says it’s crucial that the camp finds new ways to become known to the greater community.
At the base level of becoming Director of Fund Development, Clayton says he and the camp board have a few ideas as to increasing lines of revenue to keep the camp running. One method is keeping with tradition and hosting a number of public events and fundraisers. However, Clayton says that he will set a focus on returning to the donors and camp promoters who have been generously contributing to helping Wonderland Camp for years past.
“We can’t forget about the people who have already contributed to the camp,” Clayton said. “We want them to know how important they’ve been for us.”
In the long term, Clayton says his goal will be reducing operating costs as much as possible and keep a flow of donations, monetary or otherwise, steady to continue camp events. He says that Wonderland Camp fills a need around the lake that is not found anywhere close by. Clayton sees the camp as a staple in the community that is important for those who utilize it the most. Because of this, keeping operations running well past this 50th anniversary is crucial.
“It just fits in with the giving nature of this lake,” Clayton said. “There’s no community this size that I know of that gives this much back.”