Pam Wolf wants to hear children’s laughter at Camp Montvale again.
If fundraising goes as planned, she just might get her wish as early as next summer.
The camp may soon have new life as a camp to serve adopted children and their families.
Wolf, the founder of Harmony Adoptions, recently signed a contract to purchase 80 acres of the former camp from businessman Sam Furrow. Harmony is working with Ackermann Public Relations to put together a fundraising team to get the money to close on the property.
The appraised value for the total 338.94 acres of Camp Montvale is approximately $2.6 million, according to the Blount County property assessors office. Harmony is planning to purchase 80 acres of the total acreage. Wolfe said the price is still being negotiated.
“Harmony is actually going to buy the camp portion that will have a land conservancy on it, so land will never be developed for anything other than what we say our mission is,” she said. “It will never be sold and made into condos and houses.”
The purchase price is still being negotiated Wolf said. “Part of it depends on appraisals,” she said. “Until I get that I can’t tell what the purchase price will be.
“We have to raise the money. We would like to close by the end of the year,” she said.
Wolf said her dream is to create the first residential treatment program for adopted families in the country, one that provides adoption preparation and residential treatment camps and the follow-up treatment with families. “We have courageous families who have adopted kids through the Department of Children’s Service. Some of the kids have been through some pretty harrowing times and have a lot of needs,” she said.
Wolf said in addition to using the facility as a summer camp, Harmony will also turn it into a state of the are training facility where mental health professionals and child welfare professionals who focus on adoption can learn. “We do a lot of clinical work on a daily basis, and we’ve developed a number of dynamic training processes,” she said.
Wolf also wants to open the grounds up to the public. “What we plan to do is renovate buildings to use them on year-round basis so you can do training and also open it for people to use for family reunions, weddings or corporate retreats,” she said. “We also really want to open it up to other non-profits.”
The Harmony founder said there is a high and low ropes course. “It is set up perfectly for team building and board development activities, and we hope to open it up in that respect and we also hope people can on a reserve basis and hike on the trails or ride horse along the trails,” she said. “It is a magnificent and sacred piece of land. We think it needs to be used by this community and we’re going to hopefully make that happen.”
Wolf said Harmony also will raise money needed for renovations. The current time line is that Wolfe will put a team together by end of month and announce who that is by first of October. “We hope to have money raised by early next year in March or so and have the renovation, and open in the summer,” she said. “It has been a long time since anybody has been in there. It is overgrown, and there is work to be done to the land in terms of getting water. The wells need maintenance.”
Wolf said the main building needs a new roof, completely new wiring, a new heating and cooling system and the kitchen needs to be completely renovated. “It was a summer camp, so to use it year-round takes a different structure,” she said.
The lower cabins, formerly known as the Boys Cabins, will need to have bathrooms added to them in addition to insulation and heating and cooling systems. “A couple of buildings are falling down, and there will be tough decisions on what we can preserve,” she said. “The pool is in pretty bad shape, and there are trees growing in the tennis and basketball courts.”
Wolf said the old office and infirmary will be used as offices, as will the old director’s house, so each will need to be renovated. “The opportunity is for families to heal and grow together, and it will be an incredible place of learning. We see it as an opportunity for the public to really enjoy a magnificent and sacred piece of land,” she said.
“It is really an amazing place and I just want to hear kids laugh again. Its silent now, its sad go out there now and it be so silent,” she said. “I want to hear kids laugh again.”