Rose Lake offers new camps, scholarships

LEROY – From a new summer dance camp to a batch of camper scholarships, organizers at Rose Lake Youth Camp hope new initiatives will positively impact many campers this summer.

After offering specialty camps for the first time last year, the camp will launch a new specialty Jazz Funk overnight dance camp in conjunction with Artworks in Big Rapids. The camp will run from July 8 to 13 and campers will spend three hours each morning focusing on dance combining jazz, hip-hop and new style dance movements from instructor Abigail Verberkmoes.

“We want to get the students comfortable with moving their bodies while having fun,” said Amber Kelso, Rose Lake Youth Camp board president.

Along with overnight camps specializing in dance, outdoor adventure and science exploration, RLYC also will offer day experiences for youth.

Discovery Day Camp, a three-day happening from June 27 to 29 for high functioning special needs children and adults with good mobility, was launched last year to accommodate campers needing additional assistance.

The camp includes environmental programs, arts and crafts and activities for students with special needs such as developmental or learning disabilities. While up to 48 campers may attend other weeks of camp, the Discovery Day Camp program is limited to 35 participants.

Though last year’s session was not filled to capacity, the camp hopes to see more participants this year while maintaining a camper to counselor ratio ensuring each camper receives specialized attention, Kelso said.

“We had a very small turnout (last year), but we were encouraged by it,” Kelso said. “Our biggest hurdle was funding.”

This year, 30 individuals can enjoy the camp for free after RLYC was awarded two grants for scholarships totaling $5,000 from the Osceola County Community Foundation and United Way of Mecosta and Oscoela counties.

“Rose Lake Youth Camp has been around a long time and they work with a very low budget. Sometimes the one-week camp experience can form role model (relationships) between counselors and mentors. The fun (campers) have can help build their confidence and self esteem,” said Larry Emig, Osceola County Community Foundation director of outreach. “Some families might not have the money to send the kids to camp for a week, and we wanted to help them out.”

Funded through camp fees, donations and grants, 40 percent of the 250 campers who typically attend Rose Lake Youth Camp during the summer utlize the camp scholarship, Kelso said.

Along with new camps this year, Rose Lake Youth Camp will still offer the traditional resident camp and day camp, offering campers the opportunity to participate in activities such as swimming, archery, songs, fishing, crafts, games, kayaking and campfires.

The camp, which employs one director, eight counselors and two kitchen staff, is committed to giving campers a traditional camping experience.

“They bring no electronics, no cell phones and they sleep in tents,” Kelso said. “For one week of the summer, kids focus on the outdoors.”

The camp invites representatives from organizations such as Emergency Medical Services and local fire departments to teach campers about the services and give them a well-rounded camping experience.

“It’s a week just to be a kid,” Kelso said. “It doesn’t matter where you came from or if you came on a scholarship. When you’re here, you’re a kid.”

Campers receiving scholarships for attendance will have all expenses covered including lunch and activities, but may still need money to spend at the camp store.

Those interested in registering for camp at RLYC or applying for a scholarship can visit www.roselakeyouthcamp.org.