Rounding out its third year, our annual Auctus Innovation Competition challenges RVi employees to come up with an innovative idea in line with RVi’s mission that can be meaningfully advanced in a year’s time. With a lot of great entries to choose from, this year’s winner truly honed in our purpose statement: to inspire people to be outside and engage in the community around them.

In order to compete, RVi employees had the choice of competing individually or forming teams. Each submission requires a written Manifesto as well as supplemental research explaining the idea. Entries were evaluated by an independent panel of judges, including:

  • Jane Winslow, PhD, FASLA, PLA, AICP – Texas A&M University
  • Lee Pilz – Marketing Consultant
  • Mike Jesberger – TerraWest Communities
  • Noah Halbach, PLA, AICP – Toole Design
  • Todd LaRue – RCLCO

This year’s winner: Camp Scottie Creek Bridge & Nature Trail

Camp Scottie was submitted as a solo entry by Annie Vos of our Tempe office. Going back to her roots as a “camp kid,” Annie reminded us all about the formative experiences we have as children. “Camp – away from the social pressures of school and life, where you could get dirty and experiment, where you could take the time to explore the intricacies of nature – is where I developed my self-confidence, appreciation for nature, and love of being outdoors,” Annie said.
Located in Howard City, Michigan, Camp Scottie is an 85-acre property that features a running stream and swimming pond, lodge and retreat center. Visitors come to Camp Scottie for services including outdoor education, team building, summer camp, and facility rentals. Located in a largely under served region, Camp Scottie provides opportunities for campers of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to “Find Life Outdoors”.

The Problem – Lack of Access to Camp Scottie’s Full Acreage

Camp Scottie is fortunate to have the Tamarack Creek running through the property; however, the path of the creek renders 12 acres of the site inaccessible and therefore unusable for outdoor programming. Without full access to their acreage, Camp Scottie has been unable to recognize its full potential and consequently must restrict the number of campers they can serve at any given time.

The Solution – A Creek Bridge & Nature Trail

Annie, with the support of other various RVi employees, will design and help implement construction of a bridge over Tamarack Creek thus giving Camp Scottie access to the pristine forest, rolling hills, high bluff, and marshy areas on the other side of the creek. Since this area has been previously inaccessible, no trails currently exist across the creek. In conjunction with the bridge, a trail system will also be designed and constructed upon completion of the bridge. The design intention revolves around creating “destination nodes” such as fire pits, stump circles, interpretive areas, or stationary team challenge equipment stations. These nodes not only draw in users but provide defined spaces for exploration thus building long-term relationships between humans and nature. To support the health and well being of the camp’s precious biological systems, the trail design will follow sustainable trail building best practices.

Plans for the Camp Scottie bridge and natural trail are already underway. In August 2019, Camp Scottie received preliminary approval from the Department of Environmental Quality to construct the bridge over Tamarack Creek. In addition, the camp has received assurances that the County Township that they are in support of this project and will work with the Camp to facilitate a smooth permitting process.

This ability to expand not only enables Camp Scottie to increase their existing day camp and outdoor education programming, but also reduces the impact on other areas of the forest and will literally “Open the Outdoors.” Camp Scottie’s Assistant Director of Outdoor Education, Rueben Sportel explains, “Tamarack Creek is my favorite feature at Camp Scottie and I love taking outdoor education groups to experience it…A bridge would allow access to the creek in a unique way. Having access to the land across the creek allows us to open up more spaces for outdoor education groups to explore and the separation from other spaces creates a feeling of being deep in the outdoors”.

In addition to $700 in take-home cash, Annie/Camp Scottie will also receive a stipend of $3,000 in reimbursable expenses and 80 hours of billable time to develop the bridge and trail system design over the course of the next year. Stay tuned as Annie works to bring her proposal to fruition!

You can read Annie’s full manifesto here.