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A leaky valve requires the lake be drained to undertake repairs; fundraising effort begins

COURTESY PHOTO: CAMP TILIKUM - The 13-acre lake at Camp Tilikum has been drained to allow for repairs to a valve that has failed and is allowing water to leak from the body of water.

For more than a half century kids and adults alike have traveled to Camp Tilikum each summer to frolic in the pristine waters of the camp's 13-acre manmade lake northwest of Newberg.

This year there will be no frolicking. The lake is dry.

A valve installed decades ago in the earthen dam that holds the water back began failing several years ago. The camp's staff and volunteers-initiated repairs in 2021, then handed off the work to contractors in April. Still, the valve failed completely soon after and water began to seep from the lake at a rate higher than it was fed by the inlet stream.

Owners of the camp, Northwest Yearly Meeting, drained the lake and began an effort to raise the funds necessary to replace the valve, a figure pushing nearly a half-million dollars. So far the organization has raised about $70,000 and spent $100,000.

"The lake is also the source of our drinking water at Tilikum," the organization said on its website. "Until the lake is filled up, we must purchase water every few days to maintain the water system."

The post explained that to finish the project the camp will need an additional $330,000, which includes direct costs of $180,000 for the repair and $150,000 for indirect costs like purchasing water and backfilling a loss of income from cancelling some programs.

"We are fundraising with individual donors and applying for foundation grants and a crowdfunding account," executive director Dennis Littlefield said. "For the first time ever, we have set up a GoFundMe account." Donations to the account may be made at

Once the funds are raised a process will begin to complete repair.COURTESY PHOTO: CAMP TILIKUM - For more than a half-century the lake at Camp Tilikum was a place where kids and adults alike recreated.

"We are still working with state agencies, engineers and contractors to finalize the best option to repair the lake this summer," Littlefield said. "We hope an initial repair can be done in July and August and another part of the project might be done in the summer of 2023."

As a result of the closure, the facility's popular Day Camp was cancelled for the 800 kids registered to attend this summer. But it's not all bad news for the camp.

"We are pleased that we are still able to have retreat guests in the lodge and run the Quest Camp program for middle schoolers, as it is not as heavily dependent on the lake," he said. "Especially after two years of running camp programs during the pandemic, this is the most challenging time in Camp Tilikum's 51-year history."

Littlefield added that he is confident the funds to undertake the repair and secure a place for kids of all ages to swim, fish and recreate are on their way.

"God usually provides in ways we don't anticipate," he said. "We appreciate the long-term care and support from the Newberg community."

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