7 Kansas organizations chosen for Gannett's A Community Thrives initiative. Here's how to donate.
Cathy and Ken Scroggs purchased the former Daisy Hindman Girl Scout Camp in 2018 with big dreams.
The couple set out to transform the 187-acre property into Mission Creek Camp and Retreat Center, a camp that offers programs geared toward those with physical, emotional and cognitive disabilities.
Since hosting its first summer camp season in 2019, the Scroggs — who also operate Hope Ranch Therapeutic Riding Center in Manhattan and Topeka — have been welcoming campers of all ages every week during the summer.
Mission Creek Camp is one of seven Kansas organizations selected to participate in Gannett Foundation's A Community Thrives crowdfunding and grantmaking initiative.
The program is sponsored by Gannett — the parent company of The Topeka Capital-Journal and USA TODAY Network — and is marking its fifth year supporting groups that address social issues.
The remaining Kansas organizations selected are Topeka Performing Arts Center, Helping Hands Humane Society, Butler Homeless Initiative, Junior Achievement of Kansas, Topeka Genealogical Society and Veronica's Voice.
Participating organizations will be fundraising and donations can be made through Aug. 13.
Organizations that raise the most money will be eligible to receive one of 15 national grants of up to $100,000. Separate incentives aimed at rewarding high-fundraising projects will be offered.
Donations can be made at acommunitythrives.mightycause.com.
Money that Mission Creek Camp raises during the fundraiser will in part go toward camp scholarships, said Cathy Scroggs.
"When they send us their scholarship they can come to camp for as little as $350," Ken Scroggs said.
Mission Creek Camp,7240 S.W. Douglas Road, is located southwest of Topeka near Dover.
The property sits at the top of a hill with plenty of trees to offer shade. The gravel roads running through the camp lead to cabins, a pond where campers can fish and ride canoes, a splash pad, archery, playground and horse stables.
Campers have the option to remain on-site for a week or a day, Ken Scroggs said.
Mission Creek Camp has an immense reach, attracting campers from such states as Maine, Minnesota and Arkansas.
The reason for that, Ken Scroggs said, is the lack of camps dedicated to individuals with disabilities.
"There's a lot of need for it. The problem is we are the only one in Kansas that does full-time special needs," Ken Scroggs said. "There's a couple of camps in Kansas City that do a week or two weeks but nobody really does it all summer long."
Ken Scroggs said some campers travel from different parts of Kansas and more recently, there has been an increase in campers from Topeka.
Although Mission Creek Camp has been offering weekly summer camps since 2019, some of which have been booked full, there is still plenty of work to be done to ensure the property is accessible to all.
"Our long-term goals are to be able to have all kinds of individuals with disabilities including mobility issues," Ken Scroggs said. "Because of the wheelchair situation and our topography, there are some things we have to work through."
The Scroggses would like to be able to add a lift to the campsite and find a way to transport individuals who use wheelchairs safely through the campgrounds.
"We wanna add more facilities," Ken Scroggs said. "We want to add a rock-climbing wall, a ropes course, zipline. We really want the kids to come here and experience things they can't do anywhere else."