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Glacier Institute kicks off campaign to upgrade Big Creek

| August 3, 2022 6:20 AM

Hungry Horse News

Rotting boards. Outdated bathrooms. Old windows. Those are just some of the items that Glacier Institute plans on fixing as it formally launched a campaign for $600,000 in repairs and improvements to the Big Creek Educational Center up the North Fork.

The total cost of the project is $1.7 million, noted Institute Director Anthony Nelson during a presentation last week.

But to date, the Institute has already raised $1.1 million.

Nelson said Institute has already started on some of the renovations. The property is actually owned by the Forest Service. The Institute leases it.

Over its history, it’s hosted about 35,000 children and adults at various camps, outings and classes. Today, it hosts about 1,500 a year, Nelson noted.

That use also means decades of wear and tear that has left the buildings and the grounds in dire need of repair. After a full assessment, the Glacier Institute identified a long list of needs including a new foundation underneath the mess hall building, removing asbestos floors and ceilings, replacing all windows and doors, and installing a new septic system.

Plans also call for reclaiming the back shop and preparing it for sustainable carpentry courses, creating ADA accessible bathrooms in guest and staff cabins, expanding the solar power capacity for 90% solar dependency, preparing the site for year-round camps, and modernizing all plumbing and electrical.

Key gifts already secured include $200,000 from Benji Griffith and $50,000 gifts from Chris and Monica Graff, Bob and Pat Jepsen, Bill Smith, and Connie Lane.

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc. has also supported the effort, personally donating $100,000 after learning about the need while enjoying a personalized educational tour with Nelson during a recent trip to Glacier National Park.

“Every gift is a testament to a broad-based belief in the Glacier Institute, in Big Creek, and in the life-changing experiences kids have there,” Nelson said. “Every dollar ensures we can continue pushing towards our mission on an even bigger scale.” 

Thanks to early generosity, several key renovations are already complete with more planned for this fall and next spring. Once renovations are complete, the Institute plans to expand by hosting more kids and more programs at Big Creek, and by offering programs all year round.

“That growth and our future both depend on completing the work at Big Creek,” said Nelson. “And, completing the work depends on the generosity of our community.”

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