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
"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 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.