Camp Viola cuts the ribbon on new dining hall

Published 10:00 am Thursday, April 13, 2023

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The LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for the new Frankie “Bam” Newman dining hall at Camp Viola on Wednesday.

Viola Board Chair Kevin Stringham said the building was completed last summer, and they began using it immediately.

“Parts of it were still unfinished even when we had to start camp, so we weren’t able to do a ribbon cutting until later,” Stringham said.

Stringham said the dining hall was named after former Camp Viola board treasurer and wife of former LaGrange Mayor Gardner Newnan, Bud Newman, who helped fundraise for the camp after it fell into disrepair in the 1980s.

“She was instrumental in getting the funds together and helping lead that board to raise money to allow us to have camp again,” Stringham said. 

The Callaway Foundation recommended the camp name the dining hall after Newman due to her importance to the camp’s history.

Stringham said the Callaway Foundation was a major donor to help pay for the new dining hall. 

“We also got lots of donations from the community, private donations, other charitable organizations, the West Point Foundation and lots and lots of grants,” Stringham said.

The dining hall was finished in June 2022 and kids were in there a few days later, said Stringham. He said it was completed in about six months.

“We got a certificate of occupancy on Friday or Saturday, and I had kids coming out on Sunday,” he said.

The dining hall is crucial to the camp. Not only is it where the kids eat, but it’s also the indoor gathering place when there is bad weather, it houses the laundry facilities for the camp and has living quarters for summer staff.

The hall is also often used by the community for private gatherings. Lafayette Christian School is set to have its prom there this weekend.

“Those kinds of things help offset our costs for summer camp. Because we have a good number of costs here with the staffing and power bills and maintenance and upkeep of the facility. Rental income is a big deal for us out here,” Stringham said.

“Kids who want to come to camp can sign up through their school. Every school has a partnership with a local church and that local church is going to actually run their week of camp,” Stringham said.