Illinois News

Lunch with Santa benefits Ursa Retreat House bunkhouse project

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 27, 2017 8:50 am

URSA, Ill. -- Decorating a cookie Sunday afternoon, 5-year-old Mallory Selby made sure to include plenty of sprinkles on her tasty treat.

While watching her finish up decorating, her mother, Vicki Selby, asked whether she made it for her. With a smirk, Mallory shook her head no.

The family from Jacksonville visited the Ursa Retreat House for the Lunch with Santa fundraiser organized by the facility's board. Besides cookie decorating, families could feast on a free will offering soup, sandwiches and desserts, take pictures with Santa and enter a raffle for gift baskets.

Vicki Selby had attended the camp when she was a child, and she let Mallory know how it has changed since she stayed there.

"It didn't look like this," she said.

Soon the retreat just north of Ursa will change even more as groundbreaking is set soon for a bunkhouse addition that could be complete for next year's camp season. Money raised from the fundraiser will help buy bunk beds for the new addition.

The Retreat House Board launched a $50,000 campaign earlier this year to build the bunkhouse addition, as well as demolish the craft building. Another bunkhouse will be converted into a craft building.

"We're still actively funding for the project, and this is a part of it," said Board President Brennan Reed.

Besides more space, the new bunkhouse will keep those staying at the facility in closer proximity.

"It's going to add more room, and also we're having a basement below the bunkhouse that will act as a refuge against storms," Reed said. "The fact that the new bunkhouse is attached to all of this, everybody will be close together and not so spread out."

Established in 1956, the seven-acre facility is owned by a group of 15 local churches and is used as a summer camp and retreat for area church groups. It also can be rented out to the public for weddings and family events.

Besides the lodging facilities, the Retreat House also features a three-acre lake for fishing and paddleboats, a basketball court, a sand volleyball court and an in-ground pool.

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