Rose Lake Youth Camp celebrates 66 years

LEROY – After 66 years of serving the area's youth, it's business as usual at the Rose Lake Youth Camp in LeRoy this summer.

The camp and staff are now serving campers for the last week this summer, and continue to work hard to make it a special experience for all. Bob Patterson, a Rose Lake Youth Camp volunteer and member of the board of directors, said the camp has made it this long by adapting along the way.

"It actually started in the 40s as a girl scout camp for Osceola County and changed to a co-ed camp later," he said. "Now, we serve people from all over Michigan."

Alex Booth, of LeRoy, is the camp's health officer and said the small facility and limited number of campers makes for a more intimate and individualized experience.

"It's definitely a place where kids get a lot of experiences that they wouldn't normally get," he said. "There aren't a lot of places where they can go and camp out in tents all week."

Booth said the staff-to-camper ratio is about 10 to 1, with only eight counselors and about 40 campers each week.

The camp's connection to the surrounding community also helps Rose Lake to give its campers a well-rounded week. Booth said the LeRoy and Tustin Fire Departments visit the camp to give an educational demonstration, and campers also are able to visit a nearby farm to learn about the milking process.

"It's a nonprofit camp, so we function with a lot of the grants we get from different communities around the area," Booth said. "A large portion of the kids we have are here on scholarships through the grants from the community."

The latest change to the camp is the construction of a new bathing facility on the grounds, which is set to be completed within the next month or so, Patterson said.

If the bath house is completed on time, there will be a ceremonial ribbon cutting to celebrate the new building.

Patterson has seen plenty of campers so far this summer and the camp has been at full capacity. Once a camper at Rose Lake himself, Patterson began volunteering as a teenager and has been involved with the camp ever since. For him, the camp's down-to-earth method is what makes it so special and attracts campers year after year.

"Rose Lake has a back-to-basics approach," Patterson said. "The evening campfire is the best part. It's just a great closing to the day and a good time to reflect."