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Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin
October 25, 2002 Issue

Sustainable camper culture

New camp chapel uses resources responsibly

By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor

Visitors to scenic Camp Tekawitha, located on Loon Lake in Shawano County, have a new place of worship that diocesan officials hope will serve as a model of environmental stewardship for parish building projects. Bp. Robert Banks will dedicate St. Francis of Assisi Chapel at a 3 p.m. Mass on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

The 1,950 square-foot chapel was not initially a part of the camp's building and renovation projects, which began last year and include the new main lodge.

"An anonymous donor gave a sizable contribution to specifically build a new chapel," said Kevin Brunner, diocesan director of properties. "We also received another donation for the chapel from Dr. Edward and Ana Coleman. The goal was to build a sustainable building in the woods."

"Sustainability" refers to the responsible use of the earth's resources, which chapel architect Martin Kleiber of Kahler Slater Architects used in its design and construction. These include managing soil and storm water runoff, reducing and recycling construction waste, selecting construction materials that incorporate recycled materials, using lumber from sustainably-managed forests, reducing energy costs for heating and cooling, and using insulation and finishes that protect air quality.

"Sustainability is good stewardship," said Brunner. "The plan is for the camp to have an environmental education program in the future, so having a sustainable building is important."

The chapel, which seats 130, is located, by design, in view of other camp buildings.

"It's in a prominent location," said Brunner. "All the cabins face the chapel. There are big barn doors, which open on the sides. If kids are at Mass, there can be free flowing air and wind. When the doors are open, you can see the woods on one side and look out at the lake on the other side."

Additional design elements include a clerestory, which allows natural light to shine down on the altar, and a gate to close off the tabernacle.

The gate makes the facility more versatile, said Diann Wimmer, diocesan director of worship.

"We wanted to include this separation in order to use this chapel space for group meetings," she said. "For retreats, there will be a need for more breakout space."

Artwork in the new chapel embraces the camp's namesake, Blessed Kateri Tekawitha, a 17th century Mohawk. Sr. Mari Ella Erdman, OSF, painted Native American style renditions of Mary and St. Francis of Assisi for display in the chapel.

The existing chapel, which dates to the early 1930's, may become a theater, said Bobbie Larson, camp director.

Building and renovation projects continue as Camp Tekawitha draws closer to serving as a year-round facility.

"Three cabins are being winterized," said Brunner. "Heat and insulation are being installed. All the buildings will eventually have cedar siding like the new buildings. There is still a need for a year-round restroom facility. We are thankful for the support we have received and encourage continued support. Donations are still being accepted. We are currently $100,000 short of our goal."

To support Camp Tekawitha or for donor information, contact Cindi Brawner, diocesan director of development, at (920)437-7531, or toll-free at 877-500-3580, ext. 8173.

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1825 Riverside Drive | P.O. Box 23825 | Green Bay, WI 54305-3825
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