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 serve individuals with disabilities. Friendship Ventures was established in 1964, serving participants with developmental disabilities and special needs. Friendship Ventures expanded their service opportunities beyond camp and added a respite and travel program, as well as a team building and conference and retreat program. Camp Courage and Camp Friendship are names that have been around for decades. Through the years, Camp Eden Wood and Camp Courage North have been added to camping program. In 2015 True Friends then launched True Strides, an equine assisted therapy program.
We are camp and so much more
Our programs and services include summer and winter camp, day camp, respite, therapy riding, travel, retreat centers, and team building. We serve individuals with and without physical, developmental and learning disabilities. Through partnering with other organizations, we also host a wide variety of health and education camps. With four Minnesota camps and a Twin Cities office in Plymouth, we serve nearly 25,000 individuals of all abilities each year.
Our name: Why True Friends?
Many people with disabilities don’t have a wide circle of friends. We see the outcomes at camp … true friendships between campers, staff and volunteers. We envision a world where experiences and adventures are open to individuals of all abilities. Friends are good, True Friends are better.
The center figure represents individuals with disabilities. The wheelchair is purposely subtle because True Friends see the person first, not the disability. Blue and green colors represent the lakes and trees of our camps – a distinctive environment where our programs take place. The two figures on either side, and the two colors in the name represent the two legacy organizations coming together to support people with disabilities. It also shows one of the goals of our programs – creating friendships.
Experience True Friends:
Our Camps’ History:
Camp Courage – Opened in 1955 serving campers with physical disabilities such as polio, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, as well as other congenital and acquired disabilities. To make camp worthwhile experience, children with disabilities had to participate, be challenged, and have opportunities to learn new skills that they could use in their daily lives. The original camp location is now called 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 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.
Camp Friendship – In 1964, a group of parents with Arc Minnesota converted a resort near Annandale into a resident camp for their children with developmental disabilities. They purchased the 100-year-old Beecher’s Resort on Clearwater Lake and converted it into Camp Friendship. Although the camp was created to benefit the children, parents soon appreciated the respite they enjoyed while their children were at camp. Over the years, Camp Friendship evolved into Friendship Ventures, and programs and services grew well beyond the camp’s boundaries. In the late 1980s respite programs and Ventures Travel were created. In 1986, Friendship Ventures, the parent company, became an independent, nonprofit organization.
Camp Eden Wood – In 1995, Friendship Ventures expanded its services in the Twin Cities area through the acquisition of Eden Wood Center in Eden Prairie. The original facility was established in 1925 as the Glen Lake Children’s Camp, where it served as a summer haven for children with tuberculosis. In the late 1950s, Arc of Hennepin County operated the site as Camp Indian Chief for people with developmental disabilities. Today, camp and respite programs are held at this convenient, yet secluded metro location.
Camp Courage North – In 1971, Walter and Lydia Deubener donated to Courage Center 95 acres located near Itasca State Park. The site was perfect for another residential camp which was named Courage North and in 1972, a new leadership program for teenagers who were deaf or hard of hearing was offered. In 1976 the programs and facilities at Courage North were expanded.
How it came together:
By 2012, Friendship Ventures was providing camp, respite and travel services to nearly 3,000 individuals and their families each year. The organization acquired Camp Courage and Camp Courage North and used the interim name, Camps of Courage & Friendship, for nearly a year. In October 2013, the organization launched its new name, True Friends.
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