After more than 10 years in the works, Camano Chapel’s new Saratoga Hall, a Christian education building for both children and adults, is finally nearing completion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

After more than 10 years in the works, Camano Chapel’s new Saratoga Hall, a Christian education building for both children and adults, is finally nearing completion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Camano Chapel nears completion of decadelong building project

CAMANO ISLAND — There are Bible verses written in black ink under the drywall and on the concrete of the unfinished floor.

The Camano Chapel’s effort to build Saratoga Hall, a new Christian education building for children and adults, stretches back more than a decade. Planners say faith is what kept the project going. Now the building is nearing completion and that faith has been written into the frame.

Camano Chapel, on Southwest Camano Drive, was founded nearly 70 years ago by a man who lived in Seattle but had a cabin on the island. He wanted to “build a church in the wildwood,” church administrator Jon Rice said.

Famous evangelist Billy Graham was in the area and agreed to dedicate the chapel in 1951. Black and white photographs show hundreds of cars and thousands of people there.

The church has added to its campus and congregation over the years. Saratoga Hall is the latest addition. About 13 years ago, the church started working on permits for the two-story, 24,600-square-foot building. It took five years and the permits were finished at the start of the recession, Rice said.

Church leaders had committed to building the hall without taking on debt, relying instead on donations. They broke ground in November 2008. A drop in lumber prices allowed the church to put up the walls and roof right away and make the building weather-tight.

A team has been working to finish the project as donations come in. Several workers died of cancer shortly after construction began, and the recession meant everyone was tightening their belts, Rice said. Progress continued slowly. The final steps of finishing bathrooms, floors and doors remain.

Classes and programs currently share space in other church buildings. There are gatherings for young mothers, multiple Bible studies, evening activities, a food and clothing bank, and preschool classes, among other events. Most programs don’t have a dedicated space because there aren’t enough rooms.

The new building would give groups their own areas and keep related activities closer together, said Teresa VanSant, children’s ministry director. The bottom floor is for infants through fifth grade, and the upper floor is for adults.

The chapel has seen an increase in attendance and in the number of young families. There are usually about 800 people at Sunday services. VanSant said she has seen the number of children in some programs double over the last two years.

Seemingly little features in the new building should make a big difference, she said. There are restrooms attached to the classrooms for young children so teachers won’t have to walk them down the hallway. There are sinks in each room to clean up after crafts, snacks or spills.

The church has preschool and pre-kindergarten classes during the week and Sunday school programs during and after church services. Evening programs include “Kaboom,” with music, games and crafts for young children, and “Centershot,” an archery program for third- through fifth-graders.

Having dedicated classrooms means they can be set up for age groups, VanSant said.

“It’ll be the kids’ area and they can really see that and feel that,” she said.

Moving classes and activities into the new building also should free up room for the food and clothing bank so volunteers don’t have to set up and tear down each week.

The church has raised about $4.3 million for Saratoga Hall, Rice said. He estimates $200,000 more is needed. The building could open as soon as September.

Yvonne Laun has been going to Camano Chapel for more than 30 years. Her children grew up there and now her grandchildren attend. She’s excited for the new building.

“It’s going to be great,” she said during a busy Tuesday morning at the church, when a mothers group and preschool classes had adults and children bustling about. “It’s especially great for programs like these.”

People may contact Jon Rice at 360-387-7202 or info@camano chapel.org for more information about the project, the church or donations.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Kevin Duncan puts his ballot in the ballot drop box outside of the Arlington Library on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 in Arlington, Wash. The Arlington school District has three measures on the February ballot, including one to replace Post Middle School. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
High court: State must pay for some, not all, ballot boxes

Snohomish County sued to recoup the cost of adding 21 ballot drop boxes to comply with a 2017 law.

Les Parks, left, talks with his daughter, Kenzi Parks, after a laser etched drum finished printing Tuesday afternoon at his home in Tulalip, Washington on January 25, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After 1,200 positive cases, Tulalip Tribes face ‘deepest fear’

“We used to be big on family doings — not anymore.” On top of a cultural toll, the pandemic has exposed health inequities.

Stevens Pass on Dec. 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / Herald file)
Amid rocky ski season with 300 complaints, Stevens Pass offers deal

Vail Resorts said returning customers can get discounts for 2022-23 if they renew their passes by May 30.

A car drives by Everett Station where Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin's proposal for its ARPA funds includes funding a child care center at station. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald) 20211118
Council approves lease for Bezos Academy at Everett Station

The preschool will be tuition-free. “I just know how darned important it is,” Councilmember Liz Vogeli said.

‘Armed and dangerous’ carjacking suspect last seen in Edmonds

A man in a stolen truck led troopers on a chase. He crashed, assaulted another driver and took that car.

Sen. Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor, left, speaks on the floor of the Senate, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., during debate on a measure that would delay implementation of a long-term care program and the payroll tax that pays for it. The Senate passed the measure, which was passed by the House last week, and Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the measure on Friday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Delay of Washington’s long-term-care program signed into law

The bill addresses concerns about the program’s solvency and criticism about elements of the underlying law.

Police: Marysville Pilchuck student arrested for wielding knife

Neither of the students involved in the Wednesday morning fight was injured, police reported.

Police looking for Mukilteo bank robber, seeking tips

The man appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s, white, slender, about 5-foot-8, with dark blond hair.

Registered nurse Estella Wilmarth tends to a patient in the acute care unit of Harborview Medical Center, Friday, Jan. 14, 2022, in Seattle. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is deploying 100 members of the state National Guard to hospitals across the state amid staff shortages due to an omicron-fueled spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Inslee announced Thursday that teams will be deployed to assist four overcrowded emergency departments at hospitals in Everett, Yakima, Wenatchee and Spokane, and that testing teams will be based at hospitals in Olympia, Richland, Seattle and Tacoma. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Past the omicron peak? Snohomish County’s COVID cases declining

Hospitalizations are still a concern, however, and infections in Eastern Washington and Idaho could have ripple effects here.

Most Read