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“It’s a Leadership Camp.”

July 19, 2017

The most common things I hear when I tell people I work at Farmers Union Camp are “Oh a farming camp?” “You’re a farmer?” “What do you do there, farm?” To which my response is always: “No, it’s a leadership camp.”

It is a fair question to ask these days. Long gone are the days where everyone sent their kids to summer camp. It seems like kids and families are getting busier and busier, whether it is with sports camps, family vacations, or just general things to do. We don’t often have a full camp like we did for Wesley 3, with 100 campers. So what does your child do when they come to camp?

Junior camps and senior camps are very similar in their general schedule. Each day starts with flag, and we sing camp songs after breakfast. Some of these are long standing traditions at NDFU, such as the Union Button, Flee Fly, Humpty Dumpty, and Little Pile of Tin. Have your child purchase a $1 songbook at the camp store if you want to see the words to some of these songs. After singing, we jump right into project. Senior campers are learning about the Seven Wonders of the World this summer. Junior campers are learning about Stewardship: Care for Land and People.

The first day of junior project we teach the kids about care for land: recycling, water management, food waste, and their ecological footprint. We have a quick co-op store break and then we have second session of project where we teach the campers about endangered animals. After that we have lunch and daily breather, which is 45 minutes we set aside to relax and recharge for the rest of the day.

When we get the kids up from daily breather the first day we sing some more camp songs, and then do some co-op and water games such as the human knot, water limbo, trust fall, and a slip and slide. After water and co-op games we have another co-op store break and head to the pool (or lake at Heartbutte), which is always a lot of fun. We hang out there until it’s time to get ready for theme night, which we have after supper. Junior theme is Superhero night, which has been really fun with games based on Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and other various heroes. I love seeing the kids get creative with costumes.

Most nights at camp we have a dance, which is a fun way to get the kids tired before bed. We do snowball, where we teach them how to slow dance, which is either camper’s favorite or least favorite part of camp. We also teach them a dance each year, this year to the hit N’Sync song: Bye Bye Bye. After the dance we have goodnight circle, snack, and go to bed.

The second day looks similar with flag, breakfast, singing, then project. Project the second day is care for people, so we teach them about kindness the first session and digital citizenship the second. After lunch and daily breather, we do craft and boats. We go swimming again then get all dressed up for banquet. We teach the kids about co-ops on the first day they get there, and teach them how to liquidate the store the last night at banquet. We have a talent show, a dance, and a campfire. The kids love pranking each other the last night of junior camp, and staying up late to enjoy their last night together.

At Wesley 3 the prank turned into a big pillow fight outside, which I thought was pretty fun, a 100-person pillow fight. The kids were loud but fun that camp. I enjoyed getting to know kids from my own county, Cass, as well as the Hillsboro and Wahpeton kids. I especially love making connections with a couple of campers, like my third year camper Lauren (name twins!), and one of the boys named Chase who was really fun. Having a full camp can be exhausting, but I loved every second of it. I wish every camp had that many fun, energetic, cool kids who loved being at camp.

I think NDFU camp is different from other camps because we not only have tons of fun, but also teach our kids leadership and social skills you don’t often learn anywhere else. Hopefully the campers of Wesley 3 had as much fun as I did, and we can have more full camps next summer.


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