Friends of Lake Panorama to Raise Money for Playgrounds

This play set geared to younger children will be installed at Shady Beach. It includes three types of slides, several climbing features, a shaded play area, ground level calypso drums, and a fun fone. Nearby will be three swings, with one enclosed to accommodate toddlers.   This play equipment planned for Boulder Beach offers something new for both younger and older children. Stand-alone swinging, climbing, and balancing pieces will appeal to older kids, and provide an approach to the play set. The play set includes two slides, a covered deck area, and a “Big Kahuna” fish climbing bridge. Nearby will be three swings.  This bumble bee spring rider is an example of the two-child play pieces planned for the Shady and Boulder Beach playgrounds. There also would be room for one or two more single-rider pieces at both playgrounds, if additional funds are raised.

By Susan Thompson 

Since the first meeting of the Friends of Lake Panorama board of directors on December 3, 2013, this nonprofit public charity has made steady progress towards its goal of improving recreational amenities at Lake Panorama. Now a new fundraising effort is underway to improve playgrounds at Shady and Boulder beaches.  

In April 2019, the Friends board conducted a survey to gather input on future projects. The Friends board of directors reviewed and discussed the survey results, and advanced a list of action items to the LPA Board of Directors. At its July meeting the LPA board encouraged the Friends board to move forward with further study of its priorities.

Three volunteer task forces were formed—dog park, walking trails, beach amenities/gaming. In addition, Friends staff and two volunteers began researching options for a disc golf course.

The Friends board met again October 14. After a report by the beach amenities/gaming task force, the board approved a motion that continued improvements at the three beaches are a top priority. And that LPA member input from the survey reinforced the need to improve playground equipment at Boulder and Shady beaches. 

To that end, the Friends of Lake Panorama board proposed a fundraising drive to begin in early November, with a goal of raising $70,000 for playground equipment, to be split evenly between Boulder and Shady beaches. The LPA board approved the Friends proposal at its October meeting.  

Working with Boland Recreation, the vendor for the Sunset Beach playground, plans for $35,000 worth of new equipment at each of the two beaches have been developed. 

At Shady Beach, the existing swings and teeter-totter will be removed to make way for a multi-faceted play set, three swings, and at least one freestanding “spring rider” that can accommodate two children. 

At Boulder Beach, the gray mountain and play set currently there will remain. The three spring horses, tire swing and old bathroom will be removed. In the existing playground footprint, at least one freestanding “spring rider” that can accommodate two children will be added. A new playground nearby will include a multi-faceted play set with features geared to both older and younger kids, plus three swings. 

Fundraising for these two playgrounds has begun and will continue through the remainder of 2019, and into 2020. No LPA funds are available for this project led by Friends.

A Beach Ball fundraising event, similar to ones held in 2016 and 2017, is scheduled for Saturday, April 18, 2020, with all proceeds going to this playground project. More details on that event will be available in the coming months.

These playground upgrades will continue as the priority project for Friends of Lake Panorama until $70,000 is raised and the playgrounds are complete. A sign recognizing all donors of $500 or more will be installed near both playgrounds.

In the event fundraising stalls before the $70,000 goal is reached, the Friends board will review options. Preliminary discussions are that plans would be scaled back, with play equipment installed at the two beaches to match available funds.

Donations can be made by checks payable to Friends of Lake Panorama, and mailed to Friends of Lake Panorama, PO Box 488, Panora, IA 50216.

Donations also can be made by credit card on the Friends website at

Donations of securities (stocks, mutual funds, etc.) are welcome, as are direct IRA qualified charitable distributions—for donors over age 70 ½ that are required to take forced IRA distributions. There are potential tax-saving benefits when considering either of these direct donation strategies. For information, contact Kristen Crouthamel, financial advisor at GCSB Investment Center, at 641-755-2799 or

If donors prefer to direct their charitable contribution to another Friends project, donations can be designated to Sunset Beach, the Friends general fund, or golf course beautification at either Lake Panorama National or Panorama West. Money donated to these funds will be used for targeted projects approved by the Friends board.

The dog park, walking trails, beach amenities/gaming, and disc golf course task forces continue to meet and research assigned topics. It’s anticipated these groups will have final reports to the Friends board in March or April. Those reports could lead to additional recommendations to the LPA Board in 2020.

Questions or comments can be directed to Susan Thompson, Friends of Lake Panorama executive director, 515-240-6536, or