Rose Lake Youth Camp gears up for summer

By Emily Nummer Special to the Herald

LEROY- Members of the Rose Lake Property Owners Association gathered on Saturday to help prepare Rose Lake Youth Camp for the upcoming summer.

“The camp awakening from winter is happening this week and next week,” said Robert Patterson, who was a Rose Lake camper, staffer, volunteer and serves on the board.

“It’s really nice to be able to give back to the community and do something that you enjoy,” he said.

About 10 members of the owners association ventured out to the youth camp on Saturday to assist with cleaning the camp’s grounds, according to Donna Thompson, who serves on both the Rose Lake Youth Camp executive board and as treasurer for Rose Lake Property Owners Association.

According to Thompson, the non-profit camp is run almost entirely by volunteers.

“We hire staff for the summer for the campers, but for everything else, everybody volunteers their time,” she explained.

The camp has seven week-long sessions, beginning June 27 with Discovery Camp. Discovery Camp is a free day camp for children and adults with special needs, Patterson said.

“We have a guest director, Rosemary Thiebaut, who comes in who works as a naturalist with special needs people. We base it on our regular camp weeks,” he said. “We have archery we do with different equipment and some fun water games. Participants make some fun crafts and have nature hikes. We pretty much do what we would in a regular week, but it’s adapted.”

During the following six weeks, Rose Lake Youth Camp offers both day and resident camp. Some weeks it holds specialty camps, such as Western Sport Camp, Sports Camp, and Outdoor Adventure Camp. However, Patterson believes that all the weeks have something important in common - unplugging from electronics and appreciating nature.

“It’s rustic camping so the kids sleep in tents, and it’s electronic free, so that’s great. No cell phones, computers or IPads. Leave all that behind and just enjoy nature. To me, that’s what’s neat about it,” Patterson said.

“We are right on the water so you can open up your tent and look out and see the lake, and then get out there and walk around in the muck and collect things. It’s fun,” he added.

The rustic setting and focus on nature have been elements of Rose Lake since it started as a Girl Scout Camp in 1948. Since then, many campers have been sent by parents or grandparents who attended Rose Lake in their youth, Patterson said.

“The majority of our campers come from Mecosta, Osceola, Lake Counties, but we do get kids from all over, especially if their parents or grandparents went there”, said Patterson. “It’s kind of a tradition and a feel good thing for people to be able to send their kids and grandkids to be able to camp where they went,” he added.

Thompson also stresses the financial accessibility of the camp.

“It’s economical and it’s really a good time,” she said. She also mentioned that numerous campers attend on scholarships.

Rose Lake Youth Camp is not lacking in programming. Activities include recreational swimming and swimming lessons, kayaking and canoeing, snorkeling, handicrafts, archery, team building things like a bouldering wall and fun games like a gaga pit, Patterson said.

Thompson loves hearing Rose Lake Youth Camp kids enjoying themselves.

“In the summertime, I can hear the kids singing around the campfire. The whole lake can hear them, and they’re just laughing and having a great time,” she said.

Those memory-making experiences are just what new Camp Director Sarah Kelley-Crowe hope the kids will get out of camp.

“I know as a kid, it’s the memories you make at camp, the friends you make, they stay with you forever. It’s a pivotal part of growing up. I think camp should be experienced by every kid,” Kelley-Crowe said.

If people are interested in volunteering for Rose Lake Youth Camp, they can contact Donna Thompson or Robert Patterson.

“If someone had time to volunteer, we could certainly put them to work, if it’s an hour or 20 hours. We’ll take everything we can get,” Thompson said.