About True Friends

Our Mission

Provide life-changing experiences that enhance independence and self-esteem for children and adults with disabilities.

Our Vision

A world where experiences and adventures are open to individuals of all abilities.

Who We Are

True Friends is a nonprofit agency providing life-changing experiences that enhance independence and self-esteem for children and adults with disabilities. True Friends’ programs include camp, respite, therapeutic horseback riding, conference and retreat, travel and team building; serving over 25,000 individuals annually. With camps near Maple Lake, Annandale, Eden Prairie and Bemidji, True Friends serves individuals in Minnesota and throughout the United States.

John LeBlanc, True Friends President & CEO


John LeBlanc was recently named President and CEO of True Friends effective January 1, 2018.

“I am thrilled to be leading such an inspiring organization that has a strong foundation created by Ed Stracke,” said LeBlanc. “I look forward to continuing to offer the same life-changing experiences for individuals of all abilities.”

John was first introduced to True Friends when one of his children attended Camp Courage and Camp Friendship in the summer of 2014. John was inspired by the organization and soon expanded his career with the organization.


Building Community

We partner with various community organizations that support individuals with disabilities. We collaborate with social workers to broaden options available to their clientele. We also work with schools to increase diversity and cultural awareness, helping students better understand the value of contributions of all people.

True Friends is committed to providing quality services to all our customers. This includes the individuals who utilize our services, their families, friends, social workers and residential providers.

  • We have over 50 years of camp experience and serve over 5,000 children and adults annually, maintaining our commitment and advocacy for people with disabilities.
  • We are accredited by the American Camping Association, following its requirements for certification.
  • We are licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Human Services following their guidelines for licensing.

Great Staff, Great Experiences

Staff plays a vital role in our camper’s lives. We recruit and hire a team of caring, talented and enthusiastic counselors.

  • Our program staff completes a comprehensive training program including innovative activities, communication techniques, teaching and redirection strategies. They also receive training in medical and behavioral interventions.
  • In addition to providing a fun and safe camp experience, we strive to teach our campers new skills they can utilize when they leave camp.
  • All staff and volunteers must pass a background check and a careful interview process.
  • The ratio of staff/volunteers to participants ranges between 1:1 and 1:5, depending on each participant’s needs.

Camp Locations

Find All Locations

Camp Courage has 305 acres along scenic lakeshore, woods and fields near Maple Lake, Minn. on beautiful Cedar Lake. It offers multiple meeting facilities and has two campuses: Lakeside and Woodland, both with year-round lodging.

Camp Friendship is located on 115 acres of scenic woodlands and is on Clearwater Lake just 60 miles northwest of the Twin Cities near Annandale, Minn. The fully accessible camp offers modern cabins and facilities, dining hall, arts and crafts building, recreational hall, nature building, gymnasium, indoor pool, climbing wall, ropes course and more.

Camp Eden Wood is a fully accessible camp tucked in the woods on Birch Island Lake just west of where I-494 meets Highway 62 in Eden Prairie, Minn. Campers enjoy the modern cabins, waterfront, hiking trails, basketball court, ropes course, dining hall and numerous other activities.

Camp Courage North is located in the beautiful Paul Bunyan State Forest area near Itasca State Park. Situated on Lake George, this fully accessible camp adds that “up north” feeling to everything you do there – and if you like the outdoors, there’s a lot you can do!


True Friends is the result of two legacy providers coming together. Courage Center Camps and Friendship Ventures partnered together in November 2012 to create a new camp organization to serve people with disabilities. This collaboration brings together two of Minnesota’s largest and most dynamic providers in the disability community. Both organizations have rich histories of providing exceptional and much needed services. Camp Courage was established in 1955 to service individuals with physical disabilities. Friendship Ventures was established in 1964, serving participants with developmental disabilities and special needs. …Read More.

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