From the Advocate: Why I chose to donate to the Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center
May 4, 2016 / By Peg Shields
In the mid-1950s, fellow Carnegie Mellon University student Bob Shields and I joined other Methodists from the Northeastern Jurisdiction for a conference in a remote area of Central New York. We had never heard of “Casowasco on Owasco Lake.” During that first week, I had a “mountaintop experience ... a recommitment of my religious faith.”
Bob and I were married after graduation. We began our ongoing relationship with Casowasco when we settled in Syracuse permanently after a favorite professor at Carnegie Mellon suggested Bob interview at Syracuse Research Corporation. He was hired, and in 1958, we moved to Eastwood, joining the James Street Methodist Church.
One by one, our five children were born and grew to camp age. For two years, we were in charge of family camp at Casowasco, took Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) students to retreats, and enjoyed stays in Galilee. My parents also fell in love with the grounds, activities, faith, and all of its history.
Fast forward to the year 2000. My parents had passed away, just months apart the previous year, and had left a sizeable inheritance for my sister, Jane, and me. They had lived frugally in their 68 years of marriage, helping Jane and me from time to time when the costs of raising a family had become too much. They educated their daughters and provided college funds for their great grandchildren as well.
I believe there are no accidents in life, and so on that day in the late summer of 2000 when I experienced the urge to visit Casowasco, I again had that feeling of commitment. This time it had to do with preserving the place that had meant so much to us and our families through the years. I toured a brand new kitchen facility, and in the dining room, I saw a plaque of persons who donated to this wonderful place. Among them was George and Grace Vetter, my parents. I think they were trying to tell me something: Live by example!
After touring Galilee, my favorite building, I was agonizingly aware of the needs for major renovation of this original home of Ted Case and his family. So, with no strings attached to the money, it was my intent to help bring that building back to the grandeur of the late 1800s, when it was the Case summer home. Galilee had served campers for many years, and was in need of repair and upgrading to consistently attract campers. So, it has been my mission and continues to be so.
In summer 2002, Bob and I began a new and exciting adventure with the dedication of Galilee. There is still more to do to complete a wing of Galilee. I hope and pray that there are other persons ready and willing to take up the challenge in Christ’s name. Amen, and thank you, Mom and Dad.