Inside True Friends, we believe in applying this approach to many things we do.
True Friends can …
Offer experiences – So many customers are reminded of their limitations on a daily basis. They are always hearing that they can’t do this or they can’t do that. At True Friends, we provide a place where they hear “you can!” It may be learning to ride a bike, playing an instrument, sledding down a hill, petting a horse or even traveling to London.
Deliver the service you need – True Friends can help with finding just the right respite session, creating cabin assignments that build friendships, offering volunteer groups flexibility and awakening potential in team building activities.
Do more with our supporters – True Friends can make the gifts of money, time and material have real meaning for children and adults with disabilities and their families.
Make work meaningful – There’s an incredible can-do attitude both inside and outside the organization. Co-workers lending a helping hand to stuff envelopes, clear tables, service ice cream, sharing in big events and small picnics. Staff helping a family unload their vehicle and carry luggage for a weekend stay.
Read our stories
Give campers something to look forward to year round!
Many of our campers come to camp with their hearts filled from memories and experiences of past summers…… Brian “Dewby” DuBois is one of our shining examples! I can think of only a few campers who love camp so much that they have caregivers at home read the camp catalog and scroll through the camp picture CD’s almost DAILY!
Dewby and his staff are so excited about summer camp that they make their own camp wear that is not even offered in the camp store (shoes shown to the right ). Dewby has been a camper at Camp Courage since the early 90’s and still gets excited when he gets his camp catalog in the mail or gets a call from the office, you can always hear him in the background laughing with anticipation of his upcoming session. The images and thoughts of his upcoming camp session bring Dewby to a place that is very special for him…. his home away from home, Camp Courage.
By: Tony Bown, Program Manager
Give campers the chance to learn new skills! The Miller-Dwan Foundation, located in Duluth, promotes the health and well-being of the people of northeastern Minnesota with its grant-making initiatives. Grants support the historical specialty areas of Miller-Dwan and Polinsky medical and rehabilitation centers, and promote innovative health care initiatives throughout the community. The $10,000 grant given to True Friends aligned with the foundation’s special interest in programs to benefit individuals with disabilities. The grant will be used for program development activities at Camp New Hope. Next summer, Camp New Hope will offer special “Top Chef”-like sessions using accessible equipment purchased through this grant. The program will teach campers how to use the equipment and walk them through several recipes which they can then take home and use for future cooking endeavors.
Help us serve more children and adults with disabilities! Western National Insurance Group, located in Bloomington, donated another vehicle to True Friends… the 2011 Toyota Sienna is their NINTH vehicle donation (mostly mini vans) since 2007! The value of their in-kind gifts has far exceeded $100,000…the money we save by not having to lease or buy vans for our program can now be used to help us serve and support even more children and adults with disabilities. Make a huge difference at camp! Midwest Asphalt Corporation replaced sidewalk pavement last fall for us at Camp Eden Wood. They donated their work to us and it has made snow removal this winter a breeze and will be great for campers this summer!
Here is a note from their office:
“Midwest Asphalt Corporation is happy to donate this work. We value the work you do and see the benefit to this community as well as to many others. Thank you to your entire staff and the many volunteers who put in many hours to make the camp a success.”
Bring new camper experiences to True Friends
True Friends (formerly known as Camps of Courage & Friendship) campers were able to benefit from new experiences in 2013. Summer campers had the opportunity to add Creative Learning Ideas for Mind and Body (CLIMB) Theater to its extensive list of programs and activities after being awarded Partner in Arts Participation grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board in spring 2013.
CLIMB, a non-profit children’s theater company, provided programming weekly at one of the five True Friends camp locations. The company presented plays and engaged campers in fun and creative games all while addressing topics like respect, friendship and acceptance of differences. Sessions combined interactive programming and entertainment and were tailored to meet age and ability.
With the leadership, experience and talent of CLIMB theater staff members, nearly 800 campers had a unique and hands-on experience with drama, theater and entertainment.
Climb Theater started in 1975 as a theater company for persons with disabilities “This is our way of getting back to our roots,” said Peter Mol, who has been with the theater company for two years.
“The program offers a unique experience that differs from typical camp activities by focusing on theater skills and expressing themselves in a different way. We are so pleased to add this new and fresh experience to our programming,” Program Director Jon Salmon said.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Being a summer counselor can…
Help you find meaning in summer work! Staff member Rachel Hodapp, left, with camper Molly McGovern.
“My experiences at Camp Courage have shaped me and taught me to value, respect and celebrate the beautifully unique manifestations of the human spirit.”
Whether it’s a physical disability session, Oncology session, or Camp Discovery session, every day at Camp Courage provides the opportunity for individuals to challenge themselves, celebrate life, continue to realize their full potential and have FUN while doing so.
My fondest memories are evening program pontoon rides at twilight. Campers always had the most interesting stories to share and I had a listening ear.
Through my two summers working as a nature program director and cabin leader, I have come to deeply appreciate every individual as naturally creative, resourceful and whole … regardless of mental or physical ability; and I now understand the resiliency of the human spirit to be truly outstanding.
Produce a long list of benefits for everyone involved! True Friends utilizes volunteers in a number of different ways in almost every area of the organization. Whether it’s programs or off-season maintenance (preparing and repairing for winter/summer camp) or a respite weekend, volunteers’ efforts make all of us very happy campers! Read all about the difference a volunteer can make here.
Help restore camp to its summer glory!
On a beautiful day in mid-April, 30 camp alumni and volunteers gathered to help ready Camp Courage North for the summer camp season. Courage North has a beautiful lawn, spotted with several gardens and in the fall it gets covered in leaves, pine cones and pine needles, which the volunteers removed. This work restores the grounds to their summer beauty and makes room for outdoor games and activities for campers. It took about 7 hours, but it was a sunny day in the mid-fifties and perfect for working outdoors.
The alumni clean-up saves True Friends time and money. The same work would take one maintenance person over a week to complete or would require the whole maintenance team to travel up north to complete the job. One family, the Baranski’s, have been doing cleanup weekends for over 20 years. It’s a work weekend, alumni connection and recruiting event all in one. We are grateful for the alumni, volunteer and staff participation that make this event possible!
Reunite to remember camp!
Staff Alumni serve an important purpose to Camp Courage and True Friends as a whole. They volunteer their time and money back to camp, spread the word about True Friends’ services and hold a special place for camp in their hearts. In honor of this, every fall an Alumni Reunion is held to allow these special people to come back together and experience camp anew.
It is a great time for past staff to reach back in the camp memory log and share old memories with others they experienced camp with and a time to learn about how camp is still providing our wonderful services to those traditional campers and populations. It is also a time of inspired learning and information sharing to highlight our new organization and how we are growing and expanding to serve more and more campers.
The goal for the staff Alumni Reunion weekend is to help keep our passionate and caring staff connected to the place they call “Their camp…. Their home” a place where “we met our lifelong best friends…our lives wouldn’t be the same without it”.
The 2013 Alumni Reunion was held on a cool, foggy late fall weekend at Camp. With the leaves tumbling in the grass and swirling around the paths and cabins in preparation for snow, staff members of old joined together to reminisce and re kindle their love for camp. 32 people joined us for the entire weekend and on Saturday the dinner and gathering in the reception center grew to 56 people.
As we look down the road and plan for the future we are always looking forward to our annual Alumni get together in the fall.