Mid-South Youth Camp, owned by Freed-Hardeman University, broke ground Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2020, on a $1.85 million dining hall. Charles Tucker Dining Hall is scheduled to be completed in time for camp in 2021.
The 8,000 square foot structure will contain a commercial kitchen, dining space for 312, director’s office, nurse’s station, conference room for counselors, camp store, restrooms and laundry room. It will be built on the site of the old dining hall.
Retired FHU faculty members Drs. Milton and Patricia Tucker are the naming donors. The dining hall is named in honor of their son Charles who teaches engineering and physics courses at the university.
In addition, an outdoor game area, dubbed “Grandma’s Porch,” will be constructed. The pavilion, especially for junior campers, is being named in memory of Fern McDonald, mother of assistant camp director Gayle McDonald.
The new structure will replace the current dining hall which has served the camp since 1963 when it was purchased and converted from its original purpose—a nightclub and dance hall. Since that time, campers have provided their own entertainment, music and skits, on the small stage. Plans call for the stage to be incorporated into the new structure.
Camp is growing, according to its directors. Since 2015, attendance has increased by 31 percent. In 2019, the total number of campers reached 1,482. Traditionally, the 77-acre camp served young people from age 9 to 18. However, in 2006, a junior camp for younger children was added. A day camp, it has since served 1,751 children. This year’s camp sessions were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ceremonial groundbreaking featured remarks by previous camp directors: Hoyt Kirk, Roy Sharp and Frank Bradford as well as current director Brad Montague. FHU President David R. Shannon expressed his gratitude to the many supporters of MSYC.
Doug Short with iDesign Architecture Group in Jackson, Tennessee, designed the dining hall. E&T Contracting of Henderson has been selected as the contractor.
In addition to the groundbreaking, the day also featured an online fundraising challenge “$20,000 in 20 Hours.” Approximately 170 donors gave $22,475 online in 15 hours. Anonymous donors had agreed to match the $20,000 if the drive were successful. Others interested in contributing may do so at https://give.fhu.edu/msyc by referencing Dining Hall in the comment section.
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