Machia Wilderness Camp: Annual Report 2020


The Annual Meeting of Machia Wilderness Camp (MWC) was held January 11, 2020 at Faith United Methodist Church in S. Burlington from 2:00 – 4:00pm. A slate of officers was voted on:  President: Denis O’Brien, V. President: Margaret Wilbur, Secretary: Bonnie Machia, and Treasurer: Paula Blanchett.

We ended 2019 with $6,712.63 in our Operating Budget; and $74,331.14 in our Capital Campaign.

In January we had a booth at the Sportsman’s Classic in the Exposition Center in Essex.  Many good contacts were made with exhibitors, and patrons.  Apprentices assisted in manning the booth, talking with patrons about camp, getting reacquainted with each other and generally having a nice time.  Margaret was able to collect items for the Calcutta from a number of the exhibitors, so while we did not make any money with our raffles, we felt it was time and money well spent, but continue to discuss whether or not we should stop having a booth there. If we are to continue at this venue, we need to find other ways of raising money there. (2021 there will be no Sportsman’s Classic)


While we have not signed any papers yet, we are moving forward on the purchase/acquisition of land in Milton.  Denis O’Brien worked on our charter change with the state, and on January 16 MWC completed the paperwork and added Machia Land Trust as a sub-organization. This is the 90+ acres next to the 16 acres we are purchasing. Land that was donated to MWC by Rand Larsen as part of the purchase agreement. Lee Sienkiewycz created a poster of the land with drawings of possible cabins, lodge, and boat shelter.  This has been added to our website so folks can see it is real.

In February letters were sent to schools and recreation departments announcing MWC will be July 13 – 18, asking them to please spread the word. Invitations, to become an apprentice, were sent to 16 campers and 12 letters were sent to 2019 apprentices inviting them back.


Early in March 8 letters were sent to area food sources asking for donations for Camp in July.  Then the USA was put into an alert status because the whole world was dealing with a virus called COVID 19.  We had 16 camper applications in, but due to COVID applications stopped.  We moved into a wait and see mode, continuing to line things up for camp but not finalizing anything and finding out what protocol we would need to follow at camp in 2020.

A new “Giving Tuesday” was created that happened May 5.  Margaret Wilbur created a presence for us and we raised $7,650.00 toward our Capital Campaign.


Early in June it was determined that we would not be able to hold camp in 2020.  A letter was sent to the families of each camper explaining and offering 3 options: 1) receive a refund 2) apply the fee to next year and the camper will come for the $100.00 or 3) offer the camper fee as a donation to MWC. Nine families chose to come to camp in 2021 and one family requested a refund.   Letters of regrets were sent to apprentices hoping they would be able to join us in 2021.

In July, realizing that we need to raise money more rapidly than $10,000.00 a year (from our Calcutta) we looked into the Network For Good Fundraising Program (NFG).  We all liked it, and agreed to participate in using it to help us raise money.  Garth Peterson generously offered to pay for the use of this program for the first year. We were officially enrolled as of July 17, 2020.  We also revised our Mission statement at this time feeling that it better reflects our mission and how we plan to accomplish it.

In August, Bonnie received notification that the application to Vermont Shares (United Way) had been accepted.  Hopefully we will receive money from them in the spring.  We received notice from the Eagle’s Club in Milton (the site we planned to use for our Calcutta) that they had to cancel all engagements scheduled because of COVID mandates made by the state. We talked about having the Calcutta virtually, and discussed a variety of possibilities, however, this did not materialize.

A coach from NFG informed us that Bonnie should not be on the board as she is the Executive Director, and he stated that the primary job of the board is to raise money. Bonnie agreed to continue as Secretary.

In October, using our NFG program, we had an e-mail blast plea to raise $7,000.00 to get us to our first $100,000.00 in our Capital Campaign.  We were successful, raising a little over the $7,000.00.  We then had the November Giving Tuesday campaign in which a little over $8,000.00 more was raised.

Sadly, also in October, we said good-bye to our Treasurer, Paula Blanchett as she moved back to Washington State to be near her aging parents.

Looking forward we have much to do: 

  • become more familiar with our NFG Program and its capabilities,

  • hire a Fundraiser, 

  • add more people to our board to help with our work,

  • Create a “sub”/peripheral group of people who are not interested in being on the board, but want to be involved with MWC,

  • Hire a professional Forester to help us develop a plan for the Land Trust

  • Hire an Architect to help us plan the layout of the “community” of MWC, are some of what lies ahead for us.


While this all seems overwhelming, we need to remember one step at a time and we will get there. We have come a long way since the first camp in 2004. We have a long way to go yet as we move forward to further Larry’s vision of camp to teach youth how to enjoy nature and become good stewards of the earth.


This has been a stressful year (no camp, purchasing land, realizing we need to raise more money and figure out ways to do that, saying good-bye to our Treasurer) but it has also been a good year.  There is excitement about the acquisition of the land with plans to move forward as soon as we sign the paperwork.


We end the year on a high note with a little more than $107,000.00 in the bank in our Capital Campaign and waiting for the NFG check to arrive, about another $3,000.00, so we hit the ground running with a healthy $110,000.00 in the Capital Campaign, ready to raise the rest of the $300,000.00 needed to purchase the land.


Board Members:

          President:               Denis O’Brien

          Vice President:        Margaret Wilbur


          Directors:                Dennis Briggs, Lead Instructor

                                        Garth Peterson

                                        Tim Kane

                                        Lee Sienkiewycz

          Secretary:               Bonnie Machia, Executive Director