News Updates

Camp Eden Wood Wins EP Givers Award

Along with a $5,000 grant to support camper scholarships, Camp Eden Wood was awarded the 2015 EP Givers Award. The award, won by public votes, gives True Friends – Camp Eden Wood $2,000 in public service advertising with the Eden Prairie News. We talked with Mary Beth, a member of our development team, and Ed Stracke, our President and CEO about the award and our work in the Eden Prairie community:

EP Givers Win Thank YouWhat do you think is True Friends’ biggest contribution to the Eden Prairie community?
Mary Beth: We provide unique, life-changing therapeutic enrichment services for individuals who have few such opportunities, and it’s right in Eden Prairie. Offering ready access to day camps and respite weekends offers a crucial break to families. Camp Eden Wood (CEW) is also a community resource, housing community events, school groups and corporate volunteer opportunities.

What does it mean to True Friends to be recognized for our efforts in the community?
Mary Beth: For many years, we kept hearing from community members that they had no idea CEW was in Eden Prairie! With a significant place in Minnesota’s history and many years’ experience providing unique and beneficial programs for people with disabilities, we want everyone to know who we are and what we do for the community!

What will the advertising dollars do for True Friends?
Mary Beth: The advertising dollars will greatly increase awareness of our services and inform Eden Prairie families of availability of diverse programs and fee assistance.

Do you have any comments on the other nominees and their work?
Ed: Eden Prairie is a great community. I was amazed at how many [...]

Vote for Camp Eden Wood!

Vote for ‘Camp Eden Wood’ here:

Read the article from the Eden Prairie News about camp here!

The Event

The Eden Prairie Community Foundation and Eden Prairie News are sponsoring a celebration of the city and its generosity during the upcoming EP Gives Week (April 19-25). During the special week of activities, the newspaper will highlight charitable giving and community service in Eden Prairie with a series of newspaper articles. The winner of the EP Givers Award will receive $2,000 in free advertising from the Eden Prairie News.

The Nominator

Residents and community members were encouraged to nominate a nonprofit or service club for recognition during the week. True Friends’ Twin Cities program center Camp Eden Wood is located in Eden Prairie, and we were greatly honored to be nominated by a wonderful volunteer. Elaine Taggatz, whose brother has attended programs at Camp Eden Wood, planned a significant volunteer project with Thrivent, her employer, to provide program supplies. Now she has nominated us to receive community recognition! We are so grateful to an already wonderful supporter for this new opportunity. And we’re very proud of the tribute she gave us in her nomination letter. Here are some excerpts:

The Nomination

Dear Eden Prairie Community Foundation Board,

I would like to nominate for the 2015 EP Givers Award, Camp Eden Wood, a part of the non-profit organization True Friends, whose mission is providing life-changing experiences that enhance independence and self-esteem for children and adults with disabilities. Camp Eden Wood is located in beautiful Eden Prairie and offers many different camp and respite programs throughout the year to children and adults with physical, developmental and learning disabilities. Camp Eden Wood has been in operation for 20 [...]

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True Friends discontinues used goods program

The True Friends Board decided to discontinue our used goods donation program with Savers/Apogee. True Friends was one of six charities identified in a MN Attorney General news release last week that stated Savers practices did not follow donor intent, transparency and compliance. In swift action by the board, True Friends severed ties with Savers. “While the revenue was an important source of funds for True Friends, sometimes decisions need to go beyond dollars and be defined by principle,” said President & CEO Ed Stracke.

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2014 Outstanding High School Volunteer

The Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration awarded True Friends volunteer, Sierra Hietala, with the 2014 Outstanding High School Volunteer for her work with camp.

Congratulations, Sierra!

Sierra's MAVA award These awards recognize Minnesota volunteers who have distinguished accomplishments
and have shown extraordinary interest in the area of volunteerism. These volunteers, through their personal examples, demonstrate the impact volunteers can have on the improvement of their community through an outstanding commitment to volunteerism.

While all of our volunteers make a difference, Sierra stands out from the crowd. Sierra began volunteering the summer of 2013 at Camp Friendship and although she was nervous and unsure, in the time since then, she’s grown so much and become an important part of camp.

To date, Sierra has volunteered 579 hours with True Friends by the way of 5 weeks of Summer Camp, 1 week of Winter Camp, and multiple Respite weekends. Every time Sierra steps onto camp she is outgoing and excited to work with staff, meet the other volunteers, but most importantly, give campers the best camp experience possible.

Camp changes without notice and staff and volunteers need to not only be adaptive, but to keep a positive attitude during it all; Sierra does that with every change that’s thrown her way. At 15 years old, Sierra’s fun and positive energy is balanced with confidence, maturity, and compassion that sets a high standard for our other youth volunteers.

Recently, Sierra told me a story about some classmates using the r-word around her. A friend (who hasn’t been at camp) spoke up and called them out about it because [...]

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True Friends in the News

True Friends has been in the news a lot this summer. You can check out the segments below.

An article about True Friends was in the Pioneer Press. It tells the story of a family of campers and their life-changing experience at camp. Read it here.

From July 29:

Fox 9 Visits Camp Eden Wood

WCCO Visits Camp ROCK at Camp Courage

Check out this segment about a gluten-free camp hosted by Camp Courage.

WCCO Visits Camp Eden Wood:

True Friends was featured on WCCO on July 14. They visited Camp Eden Wood, check it out!


An Interview with Kare 11 Morning News:

True Friends was featured on Kare 11 Saturday News on May 19 to talk about the new name and bringing summer camps and activities to children and adults with disabilities. Watch the full segment with True Friends President and CEO, Ed Stracke below.

Can Facebook Save a Life?

This was a three-part story on KSTP that follows people with MS. We are happy to be a part of this segment- helping people with MS connect and find relaxation at camp. (True Friends – Camp Courage is featured around the 3:00 mark)

An Interview with KSTP Morning News:

Ed Stracke was in the KSTP studio bright and early on May 23, sharing the amazing things True Friends has to offer!