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Local camp has raised $114,103 of the $400,000 needed to replace valve and drainpipe.

COURTESY PHOTO: CAMP TILIKUM - Construction crews are now able to access the leaky valve at the base of the earthen dam in the lake at Camp Tilikum.

Slowly but surely, Camp Tilikum's manmade lake is restored.

In April, after years of deterioration, a decades-old valve in the lake's dam failed, causing water to escape faster than an inlet stream could replenish it. The lake, which stretches 13 acres northwest of Newberg, has been the camp's main water supply for 51 years and a primary source of recreation for campers. Without the lake as a resource, Camp Tilikum has been forced to buy water every few days to sustain the water system.

On Aug. 25, roughly six months later, Pihl Construction deemed the lakebed dry enough to begin excavation to replace the failed valve with a new stainless-steel model. The construction crew will also install a 24-inch vertical pipe approximately 10 feet above the new valve, allowing the lake to drain water despite excess silt at the bottom.

Executive director Dennis Littlefield said the goal is to finish the lower valve in two weeks but acknowledged the project could easily be prolonged due to complications. COURTESY PHOTO: CAMP TILIKUM - Crews had to wait until the lake bed was sufficiently dry to begin work.

Next year, the crew will start work on the dam's deteriorating, 50-year-old top drainpipe, which was undersized from the start at only 12 inches in diameter. It will be replaced with a new 20-inch drainpipe that's more effective at managing winter storms. The plan is to finish the replacement by the summer of 2023.

"We don't know how much it will cost to finish the project, but I'm encouraged that the engineering team has created long-term and cost-effective solutions," Littlefield said.

While the project's final price remains uncertain, Littlefield estimated it could cost around $400,000, with approximately half going toward repairs and the other half purchasing water and replacing lost income due to canceled programs.

So far, the camp has raised $114,103. In addition to seeking individual donations, the camp is applying for foundation grants.

Although the camp's owner, Northwest Yearly Meeting, had to cancel this year's summer day camp due to the repairs, it is still allowing retreat guests and the middle school Camp Quest, which relies little on the lake for water, to use their facilities.

To help fund Camp Tilikum's lake renovations, visit its GoFundMe page at

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