A Place for All Abilities at Camp

A recent article published by the Huffington Post, titled “My Son Has the Kind of Autism No One Talks About” sheds light on the many forms that Autism takes. “The media shows us all of the feel-good stories, like the child with autism who gets to be the manager of the high school basketball team, or the boy with autism who goes to the prom with the beautiful girl, or the girl with autism who is voted onto the homecoming court. We light it up blue every April and pat ourselves on the back for being so aware.

But we aren’t aware.

Because for every boy with autism who manages his high school basketball team, there are 20 boys with autism who smear feces. And for every girl with autism who gets to be on the homecoming court, there are 30 girls with autism who pull out their hair and bite their arms until they bleed. And for every boy with autism who gets to go the prom, there are 50 boys with autism who hit and kick and bite and hurt other people.

This is the autism that no one talks about. This is the autism that no one wants to see.”

Our amazing Program Manager, Erin LaVine, shared her thoughts about the article as it relates to camp and True Friends.
Erin L. with Camper“As someone who is one of the first to share stories of people with disabilities achieving great feats, I find this article wonderfully written and eye opening.

Each summer I have the honor of welcoming countless campers, with countless abilities to camp. I get to [...]

Family volunteers form lasting bonds

Sarah Wright-Walstrom was looking for an activity for her family to participate in over the summer that would allow them to do good while spending quality time together. After hearing about True Friends through a ‘Doing Good Together’ newsletter, Sarah decided camp was the place for them. Sarah, her husband, Dave, and three sons, ages 7, 10 and 12, spent a week volunteering during the last week of camp at Camp Courage this past summer.

Dave and the two older boys assisted in a cabin of 11 campers, who were mostly active and verbal. They enjoyed assisting the campers with games, arts and crafts, sports and waterfront activities. Sarah noted that she was particularly impressed with how much her sons were able to learn about differences and appreciate people as individuals. They learned about respect and patience while assisting the campers and felt a sense of accomplishment from the week.

Sarah and her youngest son were placed in a cabin of seven older campers, many of whom were nonverbal and only one of which was ambulatory. At first, Sarah felt overwhelmed and ready to give up. By the end of the week, she had formed lifelong bonds with several of the campers. One of her favorite memories was taking the cabin to the zip line. She had a great time and was thrilled to see the group so happy and excited about an activity.

Since camp, Sarah and her family have embraced several of the campers they met into their family. Neither camper has family close by, so Sarah has found time to visit them, take them to lunch or out of their homes for the day and call them on the phone [...]

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Give to the Max Day 2015

Support Camp Scholarships!

**UPDATE: We raised a total of $4,705 through this year’s efforts… Thank you!**

What is Give to the Max Day?

GTMD15LogoHorizontalColorSafeGive to the Max Day was created in 2009 to launch GiveMN, a collaborative venture led by Minnesota Community Foundation and many other organizations committed to helping make our state a better place. That initial spark touched off a blast of online giving — $14 million in 24 hours. Since then, Give to the Max Day has become an annual tradition. Every year thousands of organizations and individuals generate donations and excitement for Minnesota causes that are working to improve the quality of life for all Minnesotans. Give to the Max Day has become a national model for giving days.


2015 GTTM Day

This year, our goal is to send as many kids and adults to camp as possible. At True Friends, we never want to turn anyone away because of an inability to pay. Your donation supports financial aid for individuals of all abilities to experience life-changing adventures that enhance independence and self-esteem.

2014 GTTM Day

Last year we worked to raise money to fund a custom, multi-sensory playground for Camp Eden Wood. We are excited to announce that all of the permits have been secured and we are working towards a ground-breaking date!

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International Literacy Day – Literacy Camp

International Literacy Day: Sept. 8, 2015

IMG_3027The theme of International Literacy Day 2015 is Literacy and Sustainable Societies. Literacy is a key driver for sustainable development. Literacy skills are the prerequisite for the learning of a broader set of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, required for creating sustainable societies. At the same time, progress in areas of sustainable development, such as health and agriculture, serves as an enabling factor in the promotion of literacy and literate environments. From: UNESCO

IMG_3032The 11th annual Literacy Camp was held this summer at Camp Friendship. Literacy Camp is a session for children that are struggling with reading, writing or word comprehension. Campers spend time working with educational specialists learning strategies to improve areas of struggle unique to each individual. The camp is collaboration between the Minnesota Department of Education and the Center for Literacy and Disabilities Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and True Friends.
Qualified literacy experts use many different technologies and strategies to improve campers’ literacy. The educators test reading comprehension using a wide range of materials, from formal books to fun magazines. One piece of technology used at camp helps campers learn how to type out sentences. The software uses a word prediction tool to help campers select the next word in the sentence and spell it correctly.
Camp is an important part to having campers become literacy proficient. According to Jonathon, going to camp has helped him read better. “Going to camp lets [...]
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Camp Courage 60th Anniversary

Camp Courage celebrates its 60th year of serving individuals with disabilities this year. In 1955, Camp Courage opened to serve campers with physical disabilities such as polio, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, as well as other congenital and acquired disabilities. To make camp a worthwhile experience, children with disabilities had to participate, be challenged and have opportunities to learn new skills they could use in their daily lives. The original camp location is now called the Lakeside at Camp Courage. In 1966, a new campus was added to serve children with communication disorders. Children with speech, hearing and language impairments were now able to have a summer experience that included speech therapy and education. This site, originally called Speech and Hearing Camp is now called Woodland at Camp Courage.

6 Things I Learned as an Oncology Camp Counselor

Camp VIP (Victory in Progress) is a special session held at Camp Courage for children with cancer or blood disorders and their siblings. Kids at these sessions get a much needed break from hospitals and treatments and spend a week just being kids.

ONE: By watching this group run and play and make new friends, you see that they are all still just kids. Their youthful innocence and enthusiasm is ever-present at camp.

TWO: They are living through serious diagnoses, trusting their doctors and nurses to help them and coming to camp without their parents.

THREE: These kids have been stretched emotionally and physically with their own diagnosis, or dealing with a sibling’s illness. From outward appearances, you would hardly know this was a camp for children with challenges. They are amazingly positive and bounce back quickly from setbacks.

Medical Knowledge
FOUR: These kids know a lot more about medical procedures than a majority of the population. While some of us are confused during a routine doctor’s check-up, these kids know about medications, side effects and what they can do to help themselves or their siblings.

FIVE: [...]
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Day in the Life: Summer Camp Lifeguard

1 7:00-9:00 a.m.: Wake up & attend staff meeting
After helping campers to get up and ready for the day and eating breakfast, the lifeguards attend the program staff meeting. Here, they discuss the events of the day, plus make plans for leading the evening program with activities like arts and crafts, a dance, games and more!

29:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Lifeguarding around camp
After the meeting, the lifeguards head to their assigned area for the day. There is plenty of water action around camp, so they could be assigned to the pool, waterfront or mud pit! Lifeguards ensure boaters’ and swimmers’ safety during the campers’ exciting day!

312:30-2:30 p.m.: Lunch and a break
At 12:30, everyone meets up with their cabin for lunch. Just after lunch comes rest hour where campers can play games, relax, take a nap or just hang out. The lifeguards use this time to recoup after a busy morning.

42:30-5:30 p.m.: More lifeguarding!
During hot afternoons, the waterfront can get busy with boat rides, swimmers, fishers and mud pit divers! Lifeguards must stay alert and prepared for any situation that could arise.

5:30-6:30 p.m.: [...]
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July 19-24, 2015

Events to Celebrate the ADA’s 25th Anniversary

MN Twins Discounted Game

Throughout the year and at the Minnesota Twins game on August 16th, celebrate the Americans with Disabilities Act 25th Anniversary. The Minnesota Twins are pleased to offer discounted tickets on August 16th when the Twins take on the Cleveland Indians. While much progress has been made, much remains to be done.

a7df41_6e5ca9f98ffd4ad2b7d28edee3aabcb1The Minnesota Twins are helping to recognize and celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act during their 1:10 p.m. game against the Cleveland Indians on Sunday, Aug. 16. Discount seats are available and range from $20 to $42. To order tickets, use this order form. The form can be completed and mailed or e-mailed to the addresses listed on the form. Tickets also can be ordered by calling Steven Wert at 612.659.3577. The deadline to order is Aug. 3.

Family Day at the MN History Center

The Family Day is noon – 4 p.m. Sunday, July 26 at the Minnesota History Center, 345 Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. The event is free.
“We’re very excited to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ADA by bringing together the community to share stories about the ADA, listen to great entertainers and see fabulous art. It will all be under one roof and we hope everyone is able to attend this historic event,” said Willshire.
The event includes live entertainment, speakers, an open microphone so visitors can share their stories, interactive arts activities and fun for all. Light refreshments will be served.
A barbeque lunch is available for purchase. See clips of The ADA at 25: Disability Rights in Minnesota, a documentary film produced by TPT. More information can be found here.

Twin [...]
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Day in the Life: Summer Camp Counselor

6:30 am: Wake up
6:30 may seem early, but with all the fun to be had each day, an early start is essential! The best way to start each morning is with a reminder to yourself of the camp motto, “Camp is for the campers” and vow to make that day the best it can be for each individual at camp.

6:30-8:00 am: Wake up the campers
Waking up the campers involves helping them out of bed and assisting in whatever morning cares they need. This can include helping them get dressed or assisting in teeth brushing, whatever they need.

8:00 am: Breakfast
Time for the first journey to the dining hall for the day. Getting yourself and your campers a solid breakfast puts the day on a good path. There is also coffee, and other forms of caffeine as necessary.

9:00-12:00: Activities
Morning activities vary by day, week and session. There are tons of things to do around camp, a few favorite morning activities are arts & crafts, swimming, fishing and biking.

12:00: Lunch
Lunch is usually another dining hall affair, but once a week your cabin will have a picnic outside. These are a fun way to relax outside with the campers and offer a nice switch in the routine. The dining hall provides a basket of picnic lunch and away you go [...]
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