Camp Courageous’ Longest Serving Board Member Kay Pitlik passes

Kay Pitlik passes  at the age of 87,  having spent over half her life actively involved in the CampKay Pitlik

I had the good fortune to have a beautiful visit with Kay Pitlik, just days before her passing. We had a wonderful time reminiscing over the past 40+ years and how far things have come. Kay was involved just after the start of Camp Courage. The Chair of the Board and Founder was looking for board members. He went to Bill Pitlik and Tait Cummins to see if they would take on the challenge of being on the board of a new camp, designed for those with special needs. Tait and Bill made a deal, they would support the cause, but as far as being board members, they volunteered their spouses…how lucky for Camp!

With that start from nothing, Kay never looked back and has been a remarkable visionary for the camp…a real trailblazer…

One of Kay’s earliest memories was the “World’s Largest Garage Sale” which was held at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids in 1976. A million stories came from that event, which was the largest fund raising ev
ent for this new camp, to date.

Kay was right in there with Dotty Cummins when United Airlines approached the camp about raising money by selling, “Jet Fresh Pineapple From Hawaii”…being sold at K-Marts East and West and Smulekoff’s Downtown Cedar Rapids. The entire Pitlik Family pitched in that first year, and have never slowed over the past 41-years of selling pineapples. The next year came the Pineapple Gala at the new Stouffer’s Five Seasons Hotel in downtown Cedar Rapids. Kay was on that original committee. This was to be the first big event for the new hotel in 1979. Bill & Kay were even in the kitchen of the new hotel making pineapple boats for the 830 attendees. They never missed being a critical part of the Gala from day one, to the day she passed.

Always looking to the future….

Bill & Kay Pitlik were among the first to contribute to Dr. DeShaw’s Perpetual Fund, which was started in 1980, at a time the camp was struggling to survive…with the whole concept being providing the foundation for Camp Courageous today, and more importantly, into perpetuity.

The Pitliks funded the 30-acres of land to the south of the original 40-acre base camp, that gave camp first right of refusal to hundreds of acres that surround the camp.

They funded Pitlik Cabin, which gave Camp Courageous the ability to serve more campers, in a modern, air conditioned facility. Originally, Pitlik Cabin also housed the pharmacy and infirmary.

They had the foresight to fund the purchasing of neighboring land, by parking money in the Camp Foundation, until that day comes…

Kay recently funded a new roof for the pool and solar for the pool’s roof…which was a huge move, once again for the future of camp.

At the end of our last time together, Kay handed me an envelope. Inside was a check to Camp Courageous to continue the camp’s solar program…once again, a gift that will have an immediate affect…but will also affect the camp, into perpetuity.

Kay was there to support the true needs of the camp, that didn’t always have the glow of a building, but was fundamental, like the Waste Water Treatment Plant, a Trash Compactor, Ice Making Machine, Walk-in coolers and freezers and so much more. If camp had a need, Kay has always been there to help.

Everything Kay has done has been good for Camp Courageous today…but more importantly it has set a path for the camp’s future…a true visionary…

What I personally appreciated the most about Kay Pitlik, is the fact that she has had many opportunities to bail on Camp Courageous…but she never did…even in the worst of times, (decades ago) when I was drinking a bottle of Pepto-Bismo before board meetings…she stayed 100% on board with what was best for camp. Kay has been key to shaping the camp into what it is today…for which we will be forever grateful. As she said during our final visit, “half my life has been Camp Courageous”. How fortunate Camp Courageous has been to have Kay Pitlik in its life…and how blessed I have been to have crossed roads with this incrediblely dedicated, good and caring and loving lady. Many lives will feel a huge void with her passing…she touched more lives than she could ever imagine.

-Charlie Becker