Center of activity: Salvation Army unveils Stephen S. Ball Conference Center at Nevada City’s Camp Del Oro | TheUnion.com

Center of activity: Salvation Army unveils Stephen S. Ball Conference Center at Nevada City’s Camp Del Oro

Following nearly two years of construction, there is now a large new feature on the campus of the Salvation Army's Camp Del Oro in Nevada City.

On Saturday, the camp held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of the Stephen S. Ball Conference Center, a large multipurpose room that also boasts three lodges, each with 13 rooms.

The center allows the camp to increase its capacity of services to help people around the community and the general region, said Major Ivan Wild, Salvation Army Divisional Commander for the Del Oro Division.

Additionally, he said the center allows the organization to generate income through rentals to sustain the camp so they can provide services to at-risk youth during the summer and keep the cost down so every child can attend camp.

During the summer camp months, the facility will be used as a gymnasium and for all kinds of recreational activities with the children, said Wild.

"The lodges will be used for additional staff, and will house volunteer staff who teach various classes and workshops with the children," Wild said. "(Instructors) come in but we've never had anywhere to house them because we only had dorms for the children. Now we can house incoming guest staff."

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In non-summer months, or offseason, the center will be used for various Salvation Army groups such as high school and college retreats, and will also be rented out to churches and other organizations for meetings and gatherings.

Wild said there are many attractive attributes to the new conference center and lodges.

With a capacity of 299 people, the Multipurpose Room can be designated as gym space, allowing volleyball and basketball configurations. The space can also be broken down into three separate sections for smaller group meetings. Wild said the space is equipped with state-of-the-art sound and media systems.

"The three lodges have incredible views," he said. "They all have outdoor patios. All three lodges also have on each floor a living area, where the centerpiece is a gorgeous fireplace."

The center's construction was made possible by a generous donation made by the estate of Stephen S. Ball, who spent his life as a champion for California's natural resources. A family member of Ball's was once served by the Salvation Army, an act that Ball never forgot, according to Wild.

"Ball liked the outdoors," said Wild. "He liked giving back to people, he liked to do things that could help children. In his estate planning he got in touch with the Salvation Army and he wanted to do something that would include nature and the outdoors, so the camp was a perfect fit for the things that he wanted to see happen."

The center has already been met with high demand, with nearly every weekend through November booked up for use — good news for the Salvation Army as it continues its efforts to provide a safe and enriching camp for kids in need.

"We don't turn away any children due to financial reasons," said Wild, "so we are always looking for ways to create scholarships and opportunities for children to come to our summer camp."

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com or 530-477-4231.

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