New Age school out, camp in |

New Age school out, camp in

Dozens of San Juan Ridge residents turned out Thursday evening to protest converting Encompass, the failed New Age school, into a family camp.

The five Nevada County planning commissions approved Shady Creek Camp, but the group insisted that prospective camp owner Ken Croley bend to meet many of the neighbors’ concerns.

Croley will have to put a 100-foot fire break around the border of the 125-acre property. Working with the county’s Department of Transportation, he’ll need to construct a turn lane on the side of Tyler Foote Road.

And he’ll pay for a sign alerting lost Bay Area campers to the upcoming Pathfinder Way, where the camp is located.

But starting next summer, Croley, a former technology executive, will be able to open the Shady Creek Camp, a weeklong camp for parents and kids to escape from the stresses of everyday life and spend some quality time together.

The campers will play volleyball and watch movies, hike and sing camping songs. In the evenings, they’ll retire to a new cabin, a rammed-earth yurt, or a room in the lodge.

The yurts, and several other camp buildings, remain from the failed Encompass school and camp. In addition, Croley plans to construct 25 cabins, a pool, two bath facilities and a small general store to the existing facilities on the site.

Some neighbors have redirected their bitterness and mistrust of the former school to Croley’s venture. They criticized his Web site,, which touts off-site trips to the river and into Nevada City, trips the neighbors claim will clog the already dangerous Tyler Foote Crossing Road.

Croley justified his Web site’s claims Thursday, insisting the trips were needed to sell the camp spots (which go for $2,900 to $3,100 for a family of four) but would rarely be taken.

To decrease the noise generated by dozens of kids and their parents, Planning Commission Chairman Kurt Lorenz, also a Ridge resident, insisted the camp’s occupancy be strictly limited to 218 people.

He also lectured Croley on the importance of fire safety and imposed the requirement for a wildfire fuel break. But Lorenz broke from the neighbors with his belief the camp’s wells would not lower the area’s water table.

Croley hopes to finalize the purchase of the 125-acre property by the end of October, and he’s planning for families to begin arriving to the camp next June.

Grass Valley resident Tim Holland, a 20-veteran of the camp industry and former president and CEO of United Camps Conferences and Retreats, will operate the camp.

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