Inspiration Hills celebrating debt elimination

Local News

NEAR INWOOD, Iowa (KELO) — A camp in northwestern Iowa is celebrating a major milestone.

Inspiration Hills Camp and Retreat Center has been a part of Lucas Draffen’s life for at least 12 years. But the camper-turned-staffer says something has been looming over the place he loves: just over $600,000 in long-term debt.

“So much so that we could feel the stressers on ourselves as summer staff,” Inspiration Hills CHIPS coordinator Jacob Draffen said.

“The cost of servicing debt was somewhere around $85,000 a year to our operating budget,” Inspiration Hills board president David Odens said.

Earlier this year, the board of directors launched a campaign to get out of debt.

“We’re a people-focused organization, so we really wanted the money that comes here to serve people directly,” Odens said.

Initially the debt elimination campaign was supposed to take three years, but an anonymous donor changed all of that.

“We received the offer of a $300,000 matching grant, which we needed to match,” Odens said.

It took just 40 days to raise the matching funds.

“For us to be able to be kind of released from that burden and being able to use funds that are directed towards Inspiration Hills, towards ministry opportunities, and that allows us to grow in different ways,” Inspiration Hills interim camp director Kristi Palsma said.

Now, the debt is no longer a stress for staffers like Draffen.

“Now that it’s lifted it’s just so amazing to think that campers are going to be impacted by generations to come,” Draffen said.

More than 270 donors helped match the $300,000. The camp was also celebrating the last week of regular summer camp on Friday.

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