News from the Camp Director
Peter Secchia Family breaks ground on Camp expansion project
August 12th, 2015
The Peter Secchia family, along with local dignitaries, broke ground on Tuesday, Aug. 11, at Camp O’Malley on a $500,000 dining room renovation project that will also include the expansion of outdoor dining area and a barbeque pit.
Since 1942, Camp O’Malley, which is operated by Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth, has provided a world class camp experience each summer for the region's most underserved youth. The Secchia Family Foundation provided the gift through the camp's Building Bridges for Brighter Futures Capital Campaign.
"We are extremely grateful to the entire Secchia family and the Secchia Family Foundation for this very generous gift," said Rick Huisman, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids. "Each year, we are reminded just how special Camp O'Malley is for so many Campers. We have each come to know the power of this Camp, and what the great outdoors can do to completely change the life of a child. Through this gift from the Secchia family, we will be able to provide more space for Campers to dine, more space to go during inclement weather, and a beautiful outdoor space where Campers may enjoy dining and relaxing outdoors."
Camp O'Malley is located on 40 acres of beautiful woods on the banks of the Thornapple River southeast of Grand Rapids, The project is expected to be completed in Spring 2016.
Meet NEW Camp O'Malley Director!
June 10th, 2015
It's time to get to know our NEW! Camp Director Tim Horton a little better...
Q: What is your background? What did you do before Camp O’Malley?
A: I have a bachelor's degree from Ferris State University in Recreation Management, and a Master's Degree from Central Michigan in Administration of Leisure Services. I have worked in other camp settings including a camp for emotionally impaired youth. I worked for several years in a school-based behavioral treatment program, in a residential treatment center, and even taught for three years. Prior to coming to Camp O' Malley, I was a transporter/youth care worker and a Family Treatment Facilitator. I even worked some construction for a year or so.
Q: What are you most excited about this Summer?
A: What excites me most about Camp is the opportunity to give young people who have had limited opportunities and experiences a chance to be at Camp and just enjoy being a kid.
Q: Did you go to camp as a child? What is your favorite camp memory?
A: I remember going to camp as a child and still have many vivid memories of those camp experiences. There is just something very unique and special about the summer camp environment. Specifically, I remember going swimming every day and getting to know new people. Though I would often miss home and my family, in the end it turned out to be a valuable growth experience for me.
Q: What unique experiences does Camp O’Malley provide youth?
A: Though sometimes individuals are not always certain about the benefits of camp, I would encourage anybody and everybody who has the opportunity to come to camp (especially Camp O' Malley) to take advantage of it while they can. There will come a day when those opportunities, like going to camp, are no longer available, and you may perhaps look back with regret. However, for those of you who still are of camp age, Camp O' Malley is replete with activities that will challenge you, humor you, encourage you, and help you meet new friends. Whether it's our ropes course, our climbing wall, our swimming pool, or the Up and Over Wall, Camp O' Malley has always been, and will continue to be, that special place for kids to have fun, discover new things, and create memories they can cherish for a lifetime.
Q: What’s a hidden talent you have?
A: Something unique about me is that I am an avid Ultimate Frisbee player, and have been known to throw a Frisbee almost the full distance of a football field.
Camp Clean-Up A Success!
April 14th, 2015
On Saturday April 11th, 40 volunteers joined us at Camp O’Malley to help get the camp ready for summertime! Volunteers came from various organizations including GE Aviation, the Grand Rapids Police Department, Grand Valley State University and the Seidman Torch Club.
It was a beautiful day and the volunteers did a fantastic job raking leaves, cleaning up the cabins, organizing the gym and arts & crafts hall, and much more. Our Campers will greatly appreciate all of the hard work!
A big thank you to all of the volunteers who joined us on Saturday. It is our vision to create a world-class camp experience for the kids in our community, providing them with fun, safe recreation in the outdoors. Thank you for helping us make this vision a reality!
Want to get more involved? Find out more here.
Camp O'Malley Summer 2015 Schedule
February 11th, 2015
Leadership Training: May 26-29
All Staff Training: June 1-5, June 8-12
Session 1: June 15-18 | Safari Week (Ages 8-12)
EXCLUSIVE WEEK FOR MLK ELEMENTARY STUDENTS. Campers get ready for an adventure packed week at camp. Enjoy adventure competitions, biking, rock climbing, swimming, sports, zip lining and more!
Session 2: June 22-26 | Holiday Week! (Ages 8-13)
Celebrate Valentine's Day, Halloween, and Christmas. Campers get to trick or treat, exchange presents with other cabins and make valentines for one another.
Session 3: June 29-July 1 | Safari Week (Ages 6-8)
Frogs and turtles and birds oh my! Grab your binoculars and join us as we go on a safari all around Camp O’Malley! Campers will make their own safari vest and binoculars to wear on our rainforest adventure!
Session 4: July 6-10 | Zombie Week (Ages 12-14)
Get ready for zombie hunts throughout the camp! Have fun dressing up like zombies or be a part of the team that fights them off!
Session 5: July 13-17 | Girl Power! (All Girls Ages 8-12)
Girl power is all about balancing out all that fun camp action with some awesome girl time. You can expect manicures, pedicures and face masks when you aren’t conquering our high ropes course or showing the world how awesome you are at fruit loop wars!
Session 6: July 20-24 | Survivor Week (Ages 10-13)
Campers will get to compete against other “tribes” for fun daily competitions. Who will be the last cabin to survive? Sign up and find out!
Session 7: July 27-31 | Hollywood Week (All Girls Ages 7-11)
Get ready as we roll out the red carpet for our special DIVA banquet. Girls will enjoy spa night, laugh at our Miss America Pageant, and enjoy a night of karaoke… singing songs from their favorite Hollywood artists.
Session 8: August 3-7 | Super Hero Week (Ages 8-12)
Bring a costume of your favorite superhero or make one at camp! Campers will use their strength, agility and super powers to play super hero games like capture the villain and save the counselor!
What a Summer! Camp O'Malley Wrap Up!
August 20th, 2014
Another wonderful summer at Camp O’Malley has come to a close. Whether it was riding down the zipline, roasting a s’more over the campfire, catching a fish on the Thornapple River, or learning how to swim, Campers had a blast trying new things this summer at Camp O’Malley. We had more Campers than ever, welcoming 624 kids from Grand Rapids and the surrounding areas.
This summer we added a new garden thanks to the support of Farmers Insurance and The Amir Project. The garden became a highlight for Campers as they helped tend to it each day. Some Campers even got to pick a variety of the vegetables as they became ready. Our chefs then prepared the vegetables, and Campers were able to eat the zucchini and squash that they picked during the week. Campers were able to learn that food needs to be grown and taken care of not and that it is not just something you get at the store.
Campers were also able to visit with horses each week thanks to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department. Kent County Deputies brought horses from the Kent County Mounted Unit for Campers to learn all about and interact with. Our Campers really enjoyed it! In addition to horses, Campers also got to learn about birds, reptiles and amphibians thanks to our partnership with the Outdoor Discovery Center of Holland.
We are so thankful for all the individuals, corporations, and foundations that helped make Camp possible for our Campers this summer! More than 90% of our Campers came to Camp on scholarship, meaning that without the support of others they would have otherwise not been able to attend. This summer, Camp O’Malley has allowed so many children to make memories and gain new skills that will stay with them forever!
Camp O'Malley Gets NEW Farmers Insurance Garden
June 10th, 2014
Camp O'Malley is very excited to add an organic garden to the plethora of activities a child can enjoy in a camp setting. The idea for the garden was brought to Camp Director Amanda Alters by David Fox who is the founder of project Amir, a growing organization that partners with summer camps to teach children about social issues through garden activities. The vision of Amir is to enlighten, inspire, and empower youth to make sustainable life choices.
Thanks to a grant Amir received, Camp O’Malley was able to partner with the organization to implement to garden. As a part of the grant, Amir has sent Camp O’Malley a full time gardener to tend to the garden throughout the summer, while incorporating an educational garden program with the Campers. “Farmer Ashlee” is from Idaho and is a Horticulture major who is passionate about helping high risk youth and teaching them about healthy life choices. She uses the garden as a medium to connect kids with social issues like water conservation, eating healthy, and even bullying.
The garden itself is 40' x 40' and in the shape of the Camp O'Malley logo, resembling a large sunshine with the center consisting of a giant herb spiral. The multitude of herbs include various basil species, peppermint, spearmint, lavender, sage, thyme, and oregano. The petal shaped raised beds house bell peppers, watermelon, cauliflower, cucumbers, and squash. The perimeter of the garden contains wooden beds planted with 40 tomato plants, strawberries, and additional squash like zucchini.
Thanks to a grant from Farmers Insurance, we were able to purchase all of the gardening materials including raised cedar garden beds and a six foot fence around the perimeter. A huge thanks to Kris Fisher and James Verduin from Farmers Insurance for their efforts in applying for the grant and helping implement our vision so perfectly. During the week of June 1st, we had more than 50 volunteers come to Camp O’Malley to get the garden ready for Campers to arrive on June 16th. All of the plants were donated to the garden from both Bos Nursery and Koetsiers Greenhouse.
2014 Summer Camp Sessions!
December 17th, 2013
2014 Summer Camp Schedule
Exclusive week for MLK Elementary | Co-ed Ages 8-11 | June 16-19th
This week is set aside just for students at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy.
Session 2: REGISTRATION FULL!
The Best of The Best | Co-ed Ages 8-13 | June 23-27th
This will be a week filled with the BEST camp activities! Enjoy an awesome week of swimming, rock climbing, biking, fishing, kayaking, team building, arts & crafts, camp fires and fun games of fruit loop wars!
Discovery Camp | Co-ed- Ages 6-8 | June 30-July 2nd
Discovery week is for younger campers who want to get a taste of what camp is all about! Campers experience a fun three day and two night adventure enjoying swimming, arts & crafts, climbing wall, songs, exploring nature and water games!
NEW Session: High School/Keystone Boys & Girls Club Members | July 7-11th
High School week for campers ages 14-17 year old and Keystone Boys & Girls Club Members. Campers will get to participate in a volunteer project, develop essential skills, and participate in all of Camp O’Malley's activities.
Session 4: REGISTRATION FULL!
Middle School Week | Ages 11-14 | July 14-18th
Get ready for a week full of fun events and activities! Campers will experience swimming, tubing, high ropes & low ropes courses, climbing wall, arts & crafts, hanging out with friends and the second annual O'Malley Relay Rally!
Session 5: REGISTRATION FULL!
Super Hero Week | Boys 7-11 | July 21-25th
BOYS ONLY! Bring your favorite super hero costume and come save the day at Camp O'Malley! Have fun rock climbing, swimming, biking and hiking! Come shoot a bow and arrow and make super hero masks! Plus play fun games like Capture The Villain and Super Hero Relay!
Session 6: REGISTRATION FULL!
Girl Power | Girls Ages 7-11 | July 28-August 1st
This week is filled with all things GIRL! Get your nails done at SPA night, wear your favorite dress to the DIVA banquet and have a dance party with your cabin mates! Plus experience all of the awesome events and activities at Camp O'Malley!
Session 7: REGISTRATION FULL!
Adventure Camp | Co-ed Ages 8-12 | August 4th-8th
Get ready for a week packed full of adventure! Experience swimming, kayaking, archery, fishing, team competitions, low ropes, adventure races, talent shows and more!
Be GREAT Gala raises $101,235!
September 15th, 2013
We're celebrating 75 years of serving youth in West Michigan, and in honor of this milestone, we held our fourth annual fundraiser focused on the great achievements of the organization's history and supporters. The BE GREAT Gala was at Thousand Oaks Golf Club (4100 Thousand Oaks Drive, Grand Rapids) from 6-9 p.m. on September 9, 2013
“Seventy-five years investing in youth development says something pretty special about the community in which we live,” said Executive Director Rick Huisman. “The BE GREAT Gala was a night where we celebrated our history, and the $101,235 we were able to raise thanks to our generous supporters will help us invest even more into the future of the Clubs and Camp O’Malley.”
The BE GREAT Gala included the first annual BE GREAT Awards, exciting live auction, delicious food, and live music. Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids had more than 250 supporters as well as prominent citizens and businesses in the Greater Grand Rapids Area in attendance.
The BE GREAT Awards were presented to three recipients who have shown tremendous support of their mission. Peter Secchia received the Outstanding Leadership Award, the Grand Rapids Police Department received the Community Impact Award, and Amway received the Outstanding Business Award.
The night would have not been the same without the support of our numerous sponsors and a special matching gift from Candace & Bruce Matthews, with which we were able to raise $20,000 at the event to sponsor Club members and Campers.
And of course...
“Special thanks to our incredible staff and volunteers for their support in making the BE GREAT event one of the best events in our history. We could not have done it without you!” – Rick Huisman, Executive Director
BE GREAT Staff & Volunteers (in no particular order): Kate Arnold Botma, Kathy Gates, Lynn Kotecki, Becky Reed, Janet Knaus, Lisa Hunter, Bruce Matthews, Barb Hanley, Derek Mason, Kelly Hassberger, Madelon Hassberger, Nan Swanson, Peaches McCahill, Ted Bingham, Sara Schneider, Ray Townsend, Nancy Schondelmayer, Erin Crison, Kevin Little, Zak Knaus, Chris Wilson, Jamie Prawdzik, Casey Stratton, Amanda Alters, Mario Leon, Suzan Guben, Dan Myers, Michael Harris, Sierra Demski, Joel Petroelje, Ryan Huizenga.
And Camp comes to an end for now...
August 8th, 2013
(Photo shows THREE GENERATIONS of Camp O'Malley Campers!)
It is hard to believe how fast the summer flew by here at Camp O'Malley. Each week, Campers enjoyed days filled with making memories, meeting new friends and participating in the many activities at Camp O'Malley. This summer has been an incredible opportunity for Campers to try new things, gain new skills and to do unique things they couldn't do at home. Whether it was climbing the rock wall, flying down the zipline, tubing down the Thornapple River, tye dying a t-shirt, or catching fish and fireflies, Campers had a blast this summer!
During our eight sessions, we were able to welcome kids ages 6-17. Each session had a special theme and Campers and their Counselors were able to dress up and participate in our weekly talent show on the last night of camp. Campers would sing, dance, act and show off all of their fun and unique talents. The talent show was always a highlight for many of our campers. This summer provided a unique opportunity for campers to get outside their comfort zone, try new things, learn new skills and have tons of fun. We believe that all kids deserve a unique experience like a week at summer camp, and we are thrilled to have provided that experience to 592 campers this summer! Although we are sad to see the summer of 2013 go, we are already looking forward to welcoming even more campers next summer!
- Amanda Alters, Camp Director
BGC Glee Week!
June 17th, 2013
This summer at the Clubs and Camp O'Malley, we have a new program as part of our new music programming. It is a Musical Theatre Workshop called "BGC Glee Week." Members and Campers will put together a mini-musical using a scene structure and popular music. Each scene will be improvised within the pre-written storyline about two friends from school who attend a summer camp and struggle against bullying and peer pressure. In the end, their loyalty remains and everyone learns a lesson about appreciating one another for our differences. Participants will audition for the various roles on the first day of each workshop, which will be held for three hours per day Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The workshop will culminate with a performance on Friday afternoon/evening (Camp O'Malley).
Seidman: June 24-28
Paul I: July 8-12
Camp O'Malley: July 29-August 2
Steil: August 5-9
This workshop is a great way for kids to learn important skills such as working together, listening, movement, acting and singing. Using improvisation to tackle a subject such as bullying is a great way for kids to explore their own feelings and make more sense of the world around them. For more information, contact Music Program Coordinator Casey Stratton at firstname.lastname@example.org or (616) 233-9370 ext 109.