BAY COUNTY (WJRT) - (06/05/18) - A Bay County camp has opened for another season with new amenities and more on the way.
Getting to this point was a struggle for Camp Fish Tales, which serves children and adults with special needs.
In 2015 the Michigan State Police were asked to investigate after more than $100,000 went missing.
The camp's then-secretary was later convicted of embezzlement.
The camp, just outside of Pinconning, reopened in 2016 despite the huge financial loss.
Since then demand for the camp has grown and its now able to offer new amenities for campers.
"What's new is behind us. Leadership Bay County built the Sensory Cabin for us. And it's a therapeutic area for kids and adults with special needs. There's specialized equipment in there, special music, special lighting, and it just helps them calm, and become a little bit more focused," said Shannon Forshee, who stepped in as the camp's executive director six weeks ago. Previously Forshee served on the Board of Directors.
The Sensory Cabin is just the beginning of new features to greet campers this year.
Two Mid-Michigan Lions Clubs teamed up to build a new pavilion which is popular at meal times.
In addition, the dock leading out to the pontoon is brand new. The old dock was wooden and has been replaced with a more durable composite material dock.
Around the corner, nestled in the middle of the 67 acre camp, will be two new cabins and a bath house.
Construction on the bath house and one of the cabins will begin after the camping season wraps up in August. A start date for the second cabin hasn't been scheduled yet.
Forshee said each new cabin will house 24 campers, ultimately doubling the number of campers who can be here at one time.
Improvements have been made inside the existing cabins too.
Everything you see here has been donated by individuals or foundations who want to see Camp Fish Tales creating summer memories for years to come.
"It's unbelievable to see. When the campers come out and have such joy and are able to do things like ride the pontoon boat, go fishing, get on the zip line chair, go up the rock wall, the joy on their faces is absolutely priceless," Forshee said.
This summer Camp Fish Tales is offering 11 camps lasting six days each, along with 13 respite camps to be held on the weekends.
The camp will serve between 150-175 campers this year. When it opened at the Erickson Road location in the 90's there were only around a couple dozen campers.
Most of the staff members are new this year as well.