Since the Friends took over stewardship of the NJSOC and even more recently signed a 20-year lease with the state, our campus in Stokes State Forest has seen some major restoration efforts.
With more than 50 buildings, 240 acres of recreational land, Lake Wapalanne, a dam, and more – the campus has been prepared to welcome back school groups, educators, and neighbors from all across our state.
Through our first year of work, we focused on solving infrastructure issues, so that future restoration projects could move along smoothly. We worked on restoring electricity and plumbing as well as roads and potholes.
After smoothing over some bumps in the road (literally), our team was able to fix crumbling steps, rebuild chimneys, paint and patch up walls, and bring fuel contracts back online.
We are working diligently to make our spaces across campus more inviting and flexible. Our team recently refurbished several adult living spaces for visiting teachers and researchers, replaced the fencing around the corral used for stargazing, orienteering, and recreational activities, and completely overhauled “Big Timbers”, our largest eating hall.
The campus is being gradually restored to its prime condition, similar to the 1940’s and 1950’s, when the NJSOC would host thousands of folks a year through summer camps, foreign exchange programs, master’s programs, and educator trainings. We hope to return our campus to the level of excellence and beyond in the coming years.
As we go through the restoration process, we are particularly proud of our commitment to resource conservation and energy efficiency. All our buildings will be more environmentally sound, fresher, healthier places to spend time.
We are also working to ensure the campus is more conducive to learning and accessible to students. Our team is upgrading lighting, Wi-Fi, and technology, and aspires to make most of our spaces accessible for wheelchair users or those who face challenges with mobility.
By making sure our entire campus is held to high standards – we are able to pour more energy and resources into programming. When all our buildings are functioning without issue, our incredible programming team can focus on creating a world-class educational experience for our visitors.
While there is still much work to be done, we offer our sincerest thanks to the New Jersey State Legislature, especially Assemblyman John McKeon and State Senator Bob Smith, for allocating the funding that allows for the much-needed restoration to be completed. We are overjoyed to be receiving $2 MM from this year’s state budget and will continue using these much-needed funds to invest in the SOC campus that serves so many in New Jersey.
Stay tuned into the NJSOC blog for more updates on our restoration progress and don’t forget to check out our upcoming programming on campus!