The shores of Lake Wissota are again filled with fun and laughter as youth gather for Farmers Union Camp at Kamp Kenwood. Summer camp sessions, open to ages 8-18, kicked off June 16 and continue through mid-August.
Built in the 1940s through the volunteer efforts and funds of members of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, a statewide family farm organization, WFU Kamp Kenwood has created summer memories for generations. For nearly a century, the camp has been a summer destination for rural and urban youth from throughout the Midwest. Scenes of youth performing skits, swimming, enjoying arts-and-crafts, and cooking meals around the campfire have been unfolding there for nearly a century. At least, up until 2020.
“Last year was the first year in our history that camps were not held,” notes WFU Camp Director Cathy Statz. “We are excited to be resuming Farmers Union Camps this summer after taking that pause amidst the pandemic.”
Statz noted that extra safety precautions are in place this summer to protect the health of campers. “Safety has always been a top priority at Farmers Union Camp, and we are taking extra health and safety precautions as we consider the impact of COVID on the camp experience,” Statz said. “We want our campers to feel safe and remain healthy throughout their time at camp, and for their families to be confident that we are taking care of the health of their children.”
In the 1940s, WFU President Ken Hones began advocating for leadership training for farm boys and girls, believing that education was the cornerstone of a better future for rural communities. Today, the camp still focuses on cooperative education and values and continues to be run by WFU, which is headquartered in Chippewa Falls. At each camp session, campers learn about the 7 Cooperative Principles and create their own consumer cooperative; they nominate and elect a board of directors, buy shares, and receive patronage dividends.
Limited spaces are available for remaining summer camp sessions. WFU encourages friend and family groups to form cohorts, as efforts are being made to keep cabin groups regional. This year a special focus of the camp programming will be on mindfulness.
With the support of Milwaukee-based partner Christin Cleaver, campers will be introduced to the notion of mindfulness of self, others, communities, and the land. “This interdisciplinary approach is a perfect example of Farmers Union’s ‘big tent’ thinking,” said Statz. “Our relationships to each other, our cooperatives and other community organizations, and the environment are all connected, and our policy reflects this cohesive approach to advocating for solutions to the challenges both of rural and urban people, here and abroad.” Campers also learn about water conservation and the effects of human activities on the health of Lake Wissota and local watersheds.
Co-sponsored by a grant from the CHS Foundation, the four- to five-day camps are affordably priced at $100 per camper for WFU members. (Non-members add $30 for a one-year Farmers Union family membership.) Learn more at www.wisconsinfarmersunion.com. For questions, please contact Cathy Statz at 715-214-7887 or [email protected]