Orion Twp. to celebrate the camp’s 100th anniversary
By Jim Newell
Construction on a new “Dream Playground” at Camp Agawam is Oct. 6 and Orion Township organizers still need about 150 volunteers to help with the build and with a host of activities planned for the day.
Event Coordinator Jenny Bhatti said she also could use 10-15 volunteers on Oct. 3-5 to help with preparing the site at Camp Agawam for the construction day. The project is being billed a community build-it-day for the playground, with meals and entertainment included.
“We’re in crunch time. Our biggest thing right now is that we need bodies. I still need a lot of volunteers,” Bhatti said, adding that if someone doesn’t want to help with playground construction, volunteers are still needed to supervise kids. “We want people to bring their kids. We’ll have activities for them all day.”
Anyone who would like to volunteer to help build the playground on Oct. 6 should email Jenny Bhatti at firstname.lastname@example.org. Register online at https://www.tfaforms.com/4688182. A registration link is also available on Orion Twp.’s website, www.oriontownship.org, or through the township’s Facebook page.
Bhatti also needs restaurants or businesses that would like to donate any breakfast foods, such as muffins, pastries, bagels, doughnuts and more. Bottled water donations can be dropped off at the Orion Center or Orion Twp. Hall, both on Joslyn Road.
The township also will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Camp Agawam that day. The camp was previously owned and operated by the Boy Scouts of America until 2014, at which point Orion Township took ownership, paying $1,025,000 for the roughly 140 acres of land.
Camp Agawam offers a wide variety of activities for all ages, with numerous campsites, rental facilities, walking trails, a chapel and a public beach on Tommy’s Lake.
Camp Agawam was established in 1918 at a time when the Boy Scout movement in the U.S. was new. Originally named Camp Pontiac, it was renamed in 1933 after the Pontiac Council was replaced by the Oakland Area Council.
Orion Twp. Parks and Recreation Dept. Programmer Jennifer Vezina said the township will host several activities for families during the celebration, all of which are free:
• Slow Row Kayak Paddle at noon at the Peterson Lodge Beach site.
• Inflatable Bounce Houses from 1-4 p.m. at Alberici Lodge.
• Youth Carnival Games from 1-4 p.m. at Alberici Lodge.
• Hay Wagon Rides from 1-4 p.m. at Alberici Lodge.
• Petting Farm from 1-4 p.m. at Alberici Lodge.
• Scavenger Hunt from 1-4 p.m. Winners will be put in a raffle to win a free camping weekend.
• Free Hotdog BBQ from 1-3 p.m., Alberici Lodge.
• Oakland County Kayak Fisherman from 2-4 pm at Peterson Lodge Beach site
• Mushroom Educational Walk & Talk at 2:00 & 2:45 p.m. at Birch Grove Lodge
• KaBOOM Playground Ribbon Cutting at 2:30 p.m. at the playground site.
Bhatti and Vezina also advise anyone who wants to come and help to park at Friendship Park on the corner of Clarkston and Baldwin roads.
“We will have a shuttle from Friendship Park to Camp Agawam running from 1-4:30 p.m. to allow for additional parking. All participants will receive a raffle ticket to participate in a drawing to receive a free camping weekend,” Vezina said.
The playground is funded through a $450,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, with an $8,500 contribution from Orion Twp.
“We’re going to build the playground in six hours on Oct. 6,” said Amy Larson, project manager for KaBOOM, a national non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all kids get a childhood filled with the balanced and active play needed to thrive.
KaBOOM and Orion Twp. officials previously hosted a design day so that kids from the community to have input on what features they would like to see at the playground. The adults, then, had input on what was feasible and what they would like to see at the playground.
Playground designers at Landscape Structures incorporated the ideas from the kids and adults and came up with a couple different options and then the township and parent committee selected which one is perfect for this park, Larson said.