WALLINGFORD — On a cold, clear night under a bright moon, more than 80 Silver Lake supporters gathered at the Wallingford Country Club for the Fancy Camp Gala for Silver Lake, an evening of dinner, dancing, and supporting this outdoor ministry.
Longtime supporters, such as the Rev. Davida Crabtree, who attended Silver Lake as a conferee in the 1960s, mingled with many who have been connected to camp for a year or less, including the new Executive Director, the Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer, and his wife, the Rev. Abby Gackenheimer. Attendees included alumni, parents, counselors, deans, board members, summer staff members, and year round staff. First Church in Windsor was well represented, with 11 members in attendance.
The event is put together by a volunteer committee of Silver Lake alumni, led by co-chairs Brian Lapis and Chrissie Wadelin.
"Fancy Camp is Silver Lake's most sparkly evening," said Lapis, who in addition to serving as the event's co-chair is an alumnus of camp, a summer dean, and a member of the board of directors. "With the live band, the unique items in the silent auction, the fancy and campy dress, it's a one-of-a-kind night! I'm impressed by all the folks who are willing to spend an evening and spend some money to support Silver Lake. It's all part of our ongoing effort to make financial support a part of what being a Silver Laker means."
The evening began with hors d'oeuvres and mingling while a jazz band played. All the musicians at the event were members of the Silver Lake community. The jazz band included Alan Munshower, Summer Staff Director, on bass, Tom Polizzi, last summer's Ceramics Specialist, on guitar, and James Allen, a former dean, on drums. Guests browsed silent auction items, which included a weekend stay in the newly renovated Lodge, handicrafts and artwork made by Silver Lake staff, artists-in-residence, and alumni, skydiving, and tickets to the Big Broadcast, an on-stage recreation of a 1940s radio variety show, featuring the Jazz Ensembles of Mount Holyoke College, with Brian Lapis as the host, Fred Kelley.
The Rev. Kent Siladi, Conference Minister, welcomed guests and acknowledged that the celebratory tone of the evening was dampened by the post-election turmoil the country is currently engaged in. He also remembered that the 2015 Fancy Camp Gala was held in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. He said that world events like these highlight the importance of the youth ministry done at Silver Lake. He referred to the Silver Lake mission statement, emphasizing the "work of forming life-sustaining leaders for the church and the world."
A buffet dinner followed Rev. Siladi's remarks. Over dinner, Executive Director Rev. Gackenheimer showed a slide show entitled, "Transforming Our Gifts into the Future." He highlighted the renovation of the Lodge, the oldest retreat building on camp, into a passive house structure and recognized Site Manager Greg Arifian for the work he did to make it happen. He also recognized the many donors who made Arifian's vision a reality. (View Rev. Gackenheimer's remarks about the Lodge on the Silver Lake Facebook page, www.facebook.com/silverlakect.)
Rev. Gackenheimer then went on to talk about the summer program, sharing photos taken at camp over the 2016 summer. He talked about the important work of building inclusive community for young people from all different backgrounds. He also shared a new video, produced by Silver Lake alumnus John Cooksey (to view the video, go to https://youtu.be/w5G-M-66f3M, or go to YouTube and search for "slcc2017").
Silver Lake Board Chairman the Rev. Ken Peterkin followed Rev. Gackenheimer, playing up the "camp" in Fancy Camp with turquoise pants and a loud tie. He spoke about he became involved in Silver Lake 12 years ago and how important the ministry is in the lives of young people.
Dancing followed dinner, with music from The Silver Lake Band, comprised of former Executive Director Tim Hughes on guitar, Silver Lake dean Whendi Cook-Broderick on vocals, Silver Lake alumnus Jona Ziac on bass, Dan Broderick on guitar, and James Allen again on drums.
In addition to the ticket price, the event included several other fundraising opportunities. Rev. Nicole Yonkman won the 50/50 raffle and donated her winnings to Silver Lake, for a total of $510. A table offering for the scholarship fund raised about $1,400.
And the silent auction, which was greatly enjoyed and sparked a few bidding wars, brought in about $3,500. The winning bidders displayed their treasures proudly, including Rev. Susan Townsley, who brought her original Godzook's puppet out on the dance floor.
All together, the event brought in just under $9,000 for Silver Lake.
Jennifer Kronholm Clark is the Administrator at Silver Lake Conference Center.