Crooked Lake is home once again to summer camps after two years of renovations to Lake Villa Township's Peacock Camp.
The 2014 Summer Adventure Day Camp, beginning June 16, will be the first official use of the property at 21777 West Edgewood Ave. since it was purchased by the township in December 2011.
"We did a lot of the renovation work ourselves with an internal staff," township Supervisor Dan Venturi said.
The projects included a new roof, new plumbing, finishing shower construction and a new kitchen in the main building, now called The Main Lodge, Venturi said.
"Structurally, the building was pretty solid," he said.
There also were several projects that Eagle Scouts, mostly Troop 188, and Boy Scouts worked together to help complete.
There is a new fire pit and a flagpole, thanks to the Scouts, and stairs that lead from the Main Lodge to the beach.
"Without those stairs, there would be about a 30-foot drop," Venturi said.
The property features the 8,000-square-foot Main Lodge, a 3,000-square-foot arts and crafts center, a 2,000-square-foot picnic center and a newly redone swimming pool, in addition to the 600 feet of Crooked Lake beachfront.
It originally was thought that a home on the property would be demolished, but Ed Kelly, the facilities director, will live there.
"I wanted a full-time presence," Venturi said.
Lake Villa Township bought the old summer camp for $600,000, Venturi said, and completed about $500,000 worth of improvements.
Venturi was pleased with the deal because the property initially was appraised at about $1.1 million. The township had offered a little more than $1 million to buy the property a few years ago, but the deal fell through, according to Venturi. Since then, the property went into foreclosure, which sparked the latter offer that secured ownership for the township.
The camp dates back to the 1930s when the three daughters of Ernst Johann Lehmann, a historically influential businessman in Lake Villa, opened it for children with polio.
The Lehmann sisters intended to provide a fun-filled escape for the children.
The sisters donated the camp in 1943, and in 1948 the property was sold.
The proceeds went into constructing a new camp building that was especially designed for disabled children. It remained a therapeutic camp until 1999.
"These kids needed complete care, but they had fun," said Lake Villa Historical Society President Sue Cribb, who was a substitute nurse at the camp for several summers.
The property was sold in 1999, but operated for several more years as a summer camp.
Cribb said she is happy to see the property being used again.
"I think that it's really nice to have it for another community scenario," she said.
Four, two-week sessions of camp are planned for this summer, from June 16 through Aug. 8. Each session has focus on swimming, boating, STEM or outdoor adventure skills.
Venturi said he has a goal of about 30 campers per session.
Peacock Camp also will be open to the public for private events and community events, such as Boy Scout retreats, throughout the summer.