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Wilcombs’ Y Camp a dream coming true

By Ken Levy

As co-chairs of the campaign to build the YMCA Horsethief Reservoir Camp near Cascade, Tim and Mary Wilcomb have raised $22 million, garnering the help of many others to aid in their quest.

“Success depends on your ability to inspire others to join you in the effort,” said Kim Peel, former camp development director for the Treasure Valley YMCA. “They inspire not only campaign volunteers and donors, but also the staff of the YMCA.”

Their efforts to help build the camp started as a tribute to their 12-year-old son, Cooper, who died in a snowboarding accident in 2001. It went far beyond that, into the desire to help the youth of Idaho, and because of how the Y has contributed so much to their family.

“The YMCA Camp at Horsethief Reservoir is an endeavor that has generated an amazing commitment and passion in the hearts of countless children and adults throughout the region,” said the Wilcombs, who run Jordan-Wilcomb Construction in Boise. “The truth is that this honor deserves to be shared by thousands of dedicated workers and volunteers.”

The family provided the original 142 acres of land in Valley County for the project, and the couple agreed to serve as chairs of the capital campaign to build the camp. Former Boise Cascade Chairman and CEO John Fery, a former Y camper himself, purchased and donated additional acreage. With an additional land swap, the camp is now more than 400 acres.

The Wilcombs have been instrumental in the effort to raise the $18 million needed to build Phase 1 of the camp, with much of the fundraising taking place over the last few years – during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, said Peel. In June 2010, the Y community celebrated this milestone with the grand opening of the camp.

The Wilcombs said the camp was able to enrich the lives of more than 1,300 youngsters and counselors during the many weeklong camp sessions this summer.

“With the 10 cabins, five yurts and an interim dining lodge, we were able to offer this world-class camp experience to over 150 campers each week,” they said. About 30 percent of the campers received some level of financial assistance from the YMCA of Treasure Valley.

“They are tireless fundraisers and have enthusiastically embraced the challenge of Phase 2, raising the remaining $4 million to build the main lodge at camp,” Peel said.

The last element of the current camp vision is to finish raising the funds for the construction of the main dining hall and lodge, according to the Wilcombs. They hope to start the construction of the $3 million lodge sometime in 2011 and complete the facility in 2012.

“If the generosity and passion of the past seven years is any indication of the future, our dreams will be realized once again,” they said.

As a child, Tim attended YMCA Camp Ponderosa in McCall, according to Peel.

“His camp experiences made an indelible impression. He still tells stories of the songs they sang, the games they played and the traditions they kept. Tim and Mary continued the Y Camp tradition by sending all three of their sons to Y Camp,” she said.

“The kids learn lifelong people skills – how to respect and care for others and how to set and achieve goals,” Tim Wilcomb said. “They learn to live the Y values of honesty, responsibility, caring and respect. If you want to bring out the best in kids, have them go to Y camp.”

“Tim and Mary’s support of the community doesn’t stop with the YMCA,” said Peel. “Their love of the community is evident in their untiring support of a variety of community organizations including FUNDSY, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Junior League, Saint Alphonsus Festival of Trees, Boise schools and Boise State University.

“Mary and Tim Wilcomb love people, they love their work and they love to help,” she said. “They are caring individuals whose genuine warmth inspires the best in those around them.”
Ken Levy is a writer and photographer residing in Driggs, Idaho.

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